By Griffin Finch
Last week as the NBA trade deadline began motivating teams to make moves for the future, a potential dynasty was created. The New York Knicks traded their young superstar Kristaps Porzingis, to go along with Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Courtney Lee to the Dallas Mavericks. In return they received Dennis Smith Jr., Deandre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and two first round picks. In my opinion this is a very lopsided trade in which Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks fleeced the Knicks management and practically stole Porzingis and company from the Knicks.
From the perspective of the Mavericks, this trade is monumental for the rebuilding process they had been embarking on. They gave up three players in the deal and two of them are veterans on expiring contracts who really don’t fit into what the Maverick’s long term plans are. The third player traded is Dennis Smith Jr., a very talented young point guard who fit very well into what Dallas is doing. However, they were able to get Kristaps Porzingis who has nearly unlimited potential. If the choice is between Smith Jr. and Porzingis, every single executive in the NBA would chose the 7’3’’ sharpshooting forward. Dallas also had to give up two first round picks in the deal, but considering how good they are going to be going forward once Porzingis returns from injury, those picks are not going to be very good. Dallas also got a couple of talented young pieces in Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke. Hardaway Jr. is on a bad contract getting paid far more than he’s worth so Dallas management will likely look to get rid of him before the start of next season. Trey Burke on the other hand has been on very cheap contracts since getting significant minutes with the Knicks last season. He’d been averaging 11.8 points in New York this season so he may end up in a reserve roll on the team in which he provide a decent boost off the bench. Overall, this trade was a great accomplishment for the Dallas Mavericks.
Objectively, Knicks executives Steve Mills and Scott Perry made the best of the situation at hand. If it is true that Porzingis claimed that he would sign the 1 year qualifying offer as a restricted free agent this summer and leave after next season, than the Knicks did the best they could do. Many believe that this was a bluff by the Latvian star because the amount of money he is missing out on by not signing a max extension with the Knicks is astronomical. If he becomes a free agent next summer, no one in the league will be able to offer him nearly as much money as his current team the Dallas Mavericks. Knicks management leveraged the situation in their favor as best they could using Porzingis to get out of some bad contracts in Courtney Lee and Tim Hardaway Jr. They also only took on expiring contracts and in the case of Dennis Smith Jr., acquired a player who will help them going forward. They also got a pair of draft picks that probably won’t become anything special, but more picks is better than less picks. The Knicks have positioned themselves to make a splash in this loaded free agency class, they just have to hope a marquee name lands in the Big Apple.
After taking a few days to let this one sink in I’m convinced that Dallas clearly won this trade. They were able to acquire a generational talent in Kristaps Porzingis while only giving up one significant asset in Dennis Smith Jr. who is very skilled but not nearly as talented as the man nicknamed The Unicorn for his unique skill set. The Knicks while successful in what they were trying to do are only truly successful if they can land a big name free agent this summer. Only time will tell how this trade will pan out for the Knicks, but Dallas on the other hand looks like they may be set up for a potential dynasty in the very near future.