The Dallas Mavericks made injured forward Kristaps Porzingis’ wish come true Thursday by agreeing to acquire the All-Star player from the New York Knicks in a deal involving seven players and two first-round picks.
The Knicks will also send Trey Burke, Courtney Lee and Tim Hardaway Jr. to the Mavericks in return for two future first-round picks, Wesley Matthews, Dennis Smith Jr. and DeAndre Jordan. Porzingis — who will be a restricted free agent after this season — has yet to make a decision on his future with Dallas, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported.
ESPN adds the first-round picks will be an unprotected selection in 2021 and a top-10 protected choice in 2023. As part of the trade during the 2018 draft to acquire Luka Doncic, Dallas owes it protected 2019 first-rounder to the Atlanta Hawks.
According to an earlier ESPN report, Porzingis met with Knicks management Thursday and gave the team the impression he preferred to be traded.
Per ESPN, Porzingis and his brother/agent, Janis, reportedly attended a meeting with Knicks brass to express concern with the team’s losing and “an uncertainty that a culture is developing that will enable sustainable organizational success.” The Knicks came away from the meeting with plans to discuss trading Porzingis before the Feb. 7 trade deadline, the report added. Hours later, news of the deal emerged.
The Knicks’ record this season is an NBA-worst 10-40, and they have lost 11 in a row, 19 of 20 and 24 of 26.
Porzingis, who has been out almost a year while recovering from a torn left ACL suffered in February 2018, had his name surface in trade rumors for the New Orleans Pelicans’ Anthony Davis, but ESPN reported earlier Thursday that it was unlikely he would be part of a package deal this summer because he would be a restricted free agent and “reluctant” to agree to a sign-and-trade.
New York decided not to sign Porzingis to a rookie extension before the 2018-19 season — allowing him to become a restricted free agent after this season — in part to preserve an extra $10 million in cap space to go after free agents this summer.
Before the trade, the Knicks were projected to have slightly more than $30 million available under the salary cap, enough to lure a max-value contract in free agency. Now, along with Porzingis and Burke, they are also parting ways with two large salaries.
Hardaway, a 6-foot-6 guard averaging 19.1 points and 3.5 rebounds and 2.7 assists a game this season, signed a four-year deal with the Knicks in 2017 worth $71 million. His yearly pay increases from $17.3 million this season to $18.2 million in 2019-20, with a player option in 2020-21 worth almost $19 million.
Lee, a 6-5 guard averaging 4.7 points and 2.3 rebounds in only 12 games this season, signed a four-year deal in 2016 worth $48 million, topping out at more than $12.7 million in 2019-20.
Burke, a sixth-year point guard, is averaging 11.8 points per game this season.
If Porzingis decides to play this season with the Mavericks, there’s no telling when he will be ready.
Updating the 23-year-old Porzingis’ condition in December, Knicks president Steve Mills said he couldn’t predict when — or if — the Latvian star would play this season. Mills told reporters then that he wouldn’t put a timetable on his return, while awaiting tests in mid-February.
Porzingis had a run-in with Knicks coach David Fizdale in November, who said his star player had yet to start sprinting as part of his rehab. Porzingis quickly refuted that, posting photos of him sprinting on an outdoor track, along with another shot of UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov captioned, “This is number one bull(bleep).”
A day later, Fizdale tried to clear the air, saying, “I’m the only doofus that didn’t know he had went out to the track. Like I said, part of it is because I’m just locked into (coaching the team).”
Porzingis underwent surgery to repair his torn ACL on Feb. 13, 2018, and initially was expected to be out for at least 10 months. He was averaging 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and an NBA-best 2.4 blocks per game at the time of his injury, earning his first career All-Star selection in his third season.
Matthews, a veteran small forward, is averaging 13.1 points and 2.3 rebounds per game this season.
Smith, a second-year point guard who was a 2017 lottery pick, is averaging 12.9 points and 4.3 assists per game. He recently returned from an absence from the team after disappointment with head coach Rick Carlisle over his reduced role this season.
Jordan, a 6-foot-11 veteran center, is averaging 11.0 points and 13.7 rebounds over 50 games this year.
—Field Level Media