Coveted Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis voiced his frustrations with team management regarding the organization’s direction, giving the impression that he would prefer to be traded from New York. His wish was granted as the Latvian big-man will head to Dallas along with Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, and two first-round picks.
This move opens up immediate cap space for a Knicks team banking on a successful 2019 free agency to crawl their way back into contention. By dealing Hardaway and Lee, New York rids themselves of two multi-year, $10M+ contracts to make room for two max contract slots in July.
However, Knicks fans are in shock over losing their franchise centerpiece for expiring contracts. Porzingis was supposed to be the cornerstone that the team was built around, but now the front office must start over to bring a competitive team back to the World’s Most Famous Arena.
The only player still on the books at the end of this season is Dennis Smith Jr., who the Knicks infamously passed on with the 8th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft for Frank Ntilikina. Smith was named to the All-Rookie Second Team in his first year after averaging 15.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game.
New York also acquired DeAndre Jordan, a former All-Star center who led the NBA in rebounding twice. He is primarily known for his defensive prowess and dunking abilities, a combination that has allowed him to consistently be among the top players at his position. He has earned a spot on the NBA All-Defensive First Team in 2015 and 2016, a year where he also made the All-NBA First Team.
The real implications of this deal come after the end of the season when the Knicks enter free agency with $70M to spend. If the organization is unable to land Kevin Durant as they plan, what is the next move? They just traded away the only All-Star caliber player on the roster, which makes New York even less desirable as a potential offseason destination. The city is known for striking out when it comes to adding big names in the summer, and if they are unable to land a marquee player, the Knicks may have pushed the rebuilding process back another five years.
Although the team currently owns the worst record in the NBA which gives them a 25% chance to land the #1 pick and a chance to draft Zion Williamson or R.J. Barrett, this trade improves the roster in the short-term. This should lead to a spike in wins and move them further out of the running for these high-level prospects.
The future is uncertain, but this organization is going to have to roll with the punches.
Featured Image via Flickr/Keith Allison