There have not been good times in New York lately when it comes to the NBA. Despite being one of the most popular NBA teams and playing in a top tourist destination, the New York Knicks have not had any success over the last decade. The last time they made the playoffs was in their 2012-2013 campaign and the most recent Knicks squad to make it past the second round of the playoffs was in the year 2000. The Knicks’ lack of success has been caused by many different mishaps, including bad draft decisions, trades that didn’t work out, and heavy contracts given out to players unworthy of them.
One of the few good decisions that the Knicks have made, though, was drafting 7’ 3” power forward Kristaps Porzingis 4th overall in 2015. At the time, many Knicks fans infamously booed Porzingis after unexpectedly being drafted so high up. However, Porzingis proved to the Knicks and their fans that he was a great talent and deserving of being drafted 4th overall.
After becoming an all-star in 2018, Porzingis established himself as one of the league’s great players. He was averaging great numbers for New York throughout his young career, however that did not translate to wins for the team, as Porzingis has not yet experienced a single playoff game.
Unfortunately, the all-star went down not too long after the all-star break last season with an ACL injury. This kept him from playing for the rest of the season, and up until now, as he hasn’t played an NBA game this season either. He is expected to return late in the season, but can very well miss the whole year just to be safe.
The Knicks forward had been involved in rumours surrounding a Knicks trade for Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans, but a very surprising event occured in the evening of January 31st, 2019; a week before the trade deadline: The Knicks were finalizing a deal sending Porzingis to the Mavericks.
The details of the Knicks-Mavericks trade are as follows:
Knicks receive: Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews, DeAndre Jordan, and likely a first round draft pick
Mavericks receive: Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee, Trey Burke
The reason for the Knicks giving up more than just Porzingis, was so that the salaries would match up, making it a valid trade. The problem for New York is, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee, and Trey Burke were all important assets to the Knicks, despite being secondary pieces being shipped off in the blockbuster deal. Tim Hardaway Jr and Courtney Lee are both spot up shooters on a team that struggles form deep. By removing two of their best three-point shooters, the Knicks hurting their team’s success from downtown even more, in a league where 3-point shooting can really win you lots of games. Trey Burke is a promising young player who is averaging 11.6 PPG, 1.9 RPG, and 2.8 APG with a usage rate of 20.5 MPG.
The Mavericks are really getting value outside of Porzingis with this trade, and at a very good price. They didn’t need to give up much for those four players: DeAndre Jordan is 30 years old, and his career will likely end pretty soon. Wesley Matthews is 32, and similar to Jordan, is nearing the end of his NBA career. Dennis Smith Jr. is by far the most valuable piece that the Knicks are receiving in this deal: He’s a young, promising player at the age of 21, and has proven to score the ball pretty well. However Smith Jr. is only a slight upgrade from Trey Burke, and hasn’t played much this season due to injury.
It is easy to see that the Mavericks earned a clear advantage in this trade. After all, Porzingis is only 26, and has many more years in him. With the way the Knicks have been heading, it seems that they are trying to rebuild their team. However, rebuilding an NBA franchise requires young players blossoming into stars. It’s not very helpful to add older players, because they are typically aiding win-now teams such as the Toronto Raptors or the Boston Celtics, that have already gone through rebuilding mode and are now title contenders.
Whatever the Knicks try to do with the players that they received through this trade, it’ll be interesting to see how things will fall into place. Will Porzingis be the same following his devastating injury? How will Dennis Smith Jr. shape up as a player? Will the Mavericks make the playoffs this year? We’ll have to find out later, but nevertheless, this trade likely made a drastic impact on the entire NBA picture.