What’s next after the New York Knicks’ trade of Kristaps Porzingis?
The worst nightmare that New York Knicks fans could have happened Thursday afternoon.
Within a two hour span, Kristaps Porzingis had left a meeting with Knicks brass, gave them an indication he wanted to be traded, and was ultimately traded. Porzingis, dubbed a “unicorn” by many, was tired of seeing the franchise go into the dark tunnel that is tanking and not being able to see the light at the end.
The trade was the first major transaction of the Scott Perry era. It came as a surprise to the league and Knicks fans everywhere who were expecting his first blockbuster transaction to either be trading for Anthony Davis or signing Kevin Durant in the offseason. However, instead of adding Davis or Durant, the Knicks added Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews, and DeAndre Jordan.
First off, the possibility for Zion is still completely in play. Wesley Matthews and DeAndre Jordan are not good enough as a tandem to uplift the Knicks to wins. Now, without their top scorer, Tim Hardaway Jr., Matthews and rookie Kevin Knox become the top scorers, each scoring 13.1 and 12.5 PPG, respectively. Additionally, with Kanter barely seeing the floor and Emmanuel Mudiay hurt, the top spot on offense is completely up for grabs. The process of tanking, if not already, just hit its highest level.
Secondly, this was a salary dump at the highest level. The only way to clear two max slots this offseason was to get rid of Courtney Lee and Tim Hardaway Jr.’s contracts. Porzingis had expressed his discontent with the losing, granted he only gave them one offseason to build a contending team with him as the focal point.
Now comes time for the ifs.
With Matthews and Jordan added to the roster, their expiring contracts create space for not one, but two max contract spots. All year long the speculation of Kevin Durant or Kemba Walker or Kyrie Irving coming to the Knicks to be the savior of the franchise. If the allure of Madison Square Garden or the weak Eastern conference is enough for one of those stars to become a Knick, then there is a future with hope. However, if history chooses to repeat itself, the world’s most famous arena will be inhabited by G-league call-ups and players that are two years away from being two years away.
One player that doesn’t fall into either one of those categories is Dennis Smith Jr. An uber-athletic, 21-year old point guard that has yet to come close to reaching his potential. It’s only fitting that he is a member of the Knicks now when two years ago everyone except Phil Jackson thought he should’ve been drafted with the eighth overall pick. Smith is a competent NBA point guard with highlight potential on every play. After a sophomore season filled with ups and downs, a change of scenery could be all he needs to get on a track to stardom.
With Kristaps gone, this is the clean slate Scott Perry needed. The only thing left from the tumultuous Phil Jackson era is Frank Ntilikina, who barely plays as it is. The books are clear and the canvas for the front office to paint a winning situation is blank once again.
This move can’t be declared a failure just yet either. It’s a preparation for a home run swing in the summer. It provides a sliver of hope that the franchise is actually progressing. However, every move the Knicks have made for the better part of the century was to provide hope and not results. This trade has the potential to set the Knicks up with two marquee players or set them back another decade.
We will have to wait until July to find out which destiny manifests itself.