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Revisiting the Kristaps Porzingis trade to Mavericks: Did Knicks get value in return for All-Star forward?

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In case you needed another reminder that time flies, it’s been nearly three years since Kristaps Porzingis was traded to the Mavericks.

Drafted fourth overall by the Knicks in 2015, Porzingis’ time in New York had its fair share of highs and lows. After earning a selection to the NBA All-Star Game in January of 2018, Porzingis went down with a torn ACL on Feb. 6, 2018.

It would be the last time he ever suited up for New York.

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On Jan. 31, 2019, the Knicks traded Porzingis to the Mavericks as part of a seven-player blockbuster deal. While Porzingis won’t take the floor when the Mavericks visit the Knicks on Wednesday, there’s no better time to revisit the trade itself.

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Mavericks-Knicks trade details

  • Mavericks receive: Kristaps Porzingis, Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee
  • Knicks receive: DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, Dennis Smith Jr., 2021 first round draft pick, 2023 first round draft pick (top-10 protected)

Why did the Knicks trade Kristaps Porzingis? 

According to an ESPN report from January 2019, Porzingis gave franchise officials the impression that he wanted to be traded in a meeting that reportedly lasted less than five minutes.

Steve Mills, who was the president of the Knicks at the time, said that “we started to get a feel, we could see that he wasn’t completely buying into what we were trying to do. And again, [during Thursday’s meeting] we wanted a confirmation from him whether he was completely in or out. He made it clear to us when he came in to meet with us that he no longer wanted to be part of our group.”

The Knicks also received two players on expiring contracts in Jordan ($22.9 million) and ($18.6 million), freeing up nearly $71 million of cap space ahead of a summer in which players like Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard were impending free agents.

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Why did the Mavericks trade for Kristaps Porzingis?

After acquiring Luka Doncic in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Mavericks were in search of a player to complement their rising star.

It was reported that Porzingis had a good relationship with Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic and Dirk Nowitzki, who would ultimately retire at the end of the 2018-19 season. On the night of the trade, Porzingis took to Twitter to share a GIF of a moment shared between him and Doncic earlier in the season.

 Parting ways with Smith was a corresponding move, as reports also indicated that the 2017 lottery pick was frustrated with playing off of Doncic. 

The verdict

Two full seasons have transpired since the deal was made and the Mavericks have made two postseason appearances to the Knicks’ one.

When healthy, Porzingis has been impactful for the Mavericks, posting averages of 20.3 points and 9.0 rebounds through his first 126 games with the team. Durability has been a slight issue, as he missed half of the Mavs’ first-round series with the LA Clippers in the 2020 NBA Playoffs.

In addition to Porzingis, Hardaway has been a critical part of what the Mavericks do, averaging 15.8 points while shooting 37.7 percent from 3-point range through three and a half seasons. Hardaway was rewarded with a four-year $75 million deal in the 2021 offseason.

After a brief stint in Philadelphia, Burke returned to the Mavericks at the 2020 NBA Restart and has remained with the team since. The Mavs waived Lee in December 2020.

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On the Knicks side of things, Jordan walked as a free agent and Matthews was bought out prior to the end of the 2018-19 season. Smith remained with the team through the 2019-20 season before getting traded to the Pistons in the 2020-21 season.

With the Mavericks qualifying for the 2021 NBA Playoffs, the Knicks received the 21st pick in the draft, which was traded to the LA Clippers. 

New York’s biggest gain from this trade was cap space, which it has used to sign a number of free agents, most notably Julius Randle, who was selected to the 2021 NBA All-Star Game.

Given the Mavericks’ two playoff appearances and the fact that technically three players acquired in the deal remain with the team, a three-year lookback places them as the winner of the deal.



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