The Dallas Mavericks have agreed to a surprise trade for one of the most talented young players in the NBA, the New York Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis, according to multiple reports.
The Knicks will receive Dallas’s Dennis Smith Jr, DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and a future first-round draft pick in return for the 7ft 3in Porzingis, who has been out for nearly a year with a knee injury. Porzinigis was voted an NBA All-Star for the first time last season and was averaging 22.3 points per game before he tore his ACL. The Mavericks will also receive the Knicks’ Tim Hardaway Jr and Courtney Lee, according to ESPN.
The 23-year-old Latvian will join up with another talented young European player, Luka Doncic, in Dallas. Doncic, 19, is expected to be named the NBA’s rookie of the year in the coming months. Both played professionally in Spain before coming to the NBA as top-five picks.
Porzingis was the fourth-overall pick in the 2015 draft but has reportedly been unhappy with the Knicks’ management over the direction the franchise is heading for some time, and on Thursday it is understood he told the team he no longer wanted to play for them. ESPN reported that the Knicks initially contacted the New Orleans Pelicans to see if they would be interested in trading Anthony Davis in return for Porzingis. Davis has expressed his desire to leave New Orleans, but the Pelicans were reportedly not interested in a trade.
Kevin Durant once called Porzingis a “unicorn” due to his blend of skills. “He can shoot, he can make the right plays, he can defend, he’s a seven-footer that can shoot all the way out to the three-point line,” Durant said in 2016. “That’s rare. And block shots – that’s like a unicorn in this league.”
The Knicks declined to give Porzingis a contract extension last summer, and by trading him and Hardaway seem instead to be gearing up to pursue players in free agency. New York (10-40) have the worst record in the NBA and are headed towards landing a high pick in the draft. That would mean the Knicks will be set up to be big spenders perhaps for two top players in a free agent market that could include Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving.
This season’s trade deadline is on 7 February.