Trade rumors are heating up and Dennis Smith Jr. is all but on a new team. Seeing him go would be the end of a failed experiment for the New York Knicks.
Sure, Dennis Smith Jr. isn’t playing well this season. Chalk it up to injuries, lack of minutes, or just the lack of ability to step up. Bottom line is that if the New York Knicks trade Smith at the February 6th deadline, it would see out the last player that New York received from the Kristaps Porzingis deal.
The Porzingis situation was a little murky, to begin with. Getting booed when he was drafted fourth overall in 2015 to basically forcing his way off the team. It was never a paradise matchup for either party involved. Saying that, he was and still is a transcendent talent in the NBA. A 7’3, 24-year-old sniper from three with an ability to move downhill like a Small Forward. If anyone were to think about moving a talent like that, you would hope that the team moving him gets something worthwhile in return.
For the most part, the Knicks did. The Dallas Mavericks gave them Wesley Matthews, an aging, but solid bench scoring option, DeAndre Jordan, who’s always a threat in the pick and roll and is known for offensive production, and Smith, at the time a 21-year-old with a whole lot of upside-only in his second year.
You would hope as a Knicks fan that despite giving up not only Porzingis but Tim Hardaway Jr.; the man that they would draft, get rid of, then bring back for $71 Million, that they had something in mind other than clearing cap space in hopes of landing Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving.
News Flash, they didn’t.
When things hit the fan in the free agency window and Durant and Irving ended up in Brooklyn, the Knicks picked up Julius Randle as their marquee signing. A solid acquisition if you ask me, but was it worth everything New York basically threw away in the KP deal? Definitely not, especially now that Matthews and Jordan are both playing for different teams and Smith is basically all but gone.
So, you’re telling me that once again, the Knicks are more than likely going to come up empty-handed in what they were hoping was a blockbuster offseason?
Credit to Mavericks General Manager, Donnie Nelson, because not only did he fleece the Knicks in every way imaginable in that deal, but two of the three pieces they received from the Knicks are playing good basketball. If it wasn’t for the stellar play of Luka Doncic, Porzingis would be getting much more attention in the media for his play despite his injuries this year. Instead, they’re a tandem with Hardaway as a respectable third option and are leading the Mavericks to what looks like their first playoff appearance since 2016.
They’re not just going to make the playoffs either. If they’re fully healthy, there’s no reason why they can’t give a potential second-round matchup serious problems and even become a conference finals team.
Smith is still a young piece that deserves to contribute to a good team. He just needs to be utilized correctly. Who knows, maybe somebody sees his upside and gives the Knicks something decent in return that’ll lessen the blow of how awful this whole deal turned out to be. I truly believe he has the highest ceiling out of any of the point guards on the Knicks roster and somebody, hopefully, a competent organization is going to bring the best out of him.
Until then, let’s all sit back and enjoy the last remnants of the failed Kristaps Porzingis deal until February 6th, when they can officially turn over a new leaf and start a new rebuild.