New York Knicks: Evaluating the Kristaps Porzingis trade 14 months later

The New York Knicks traded Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks just 14 months ago. How is the trade looking at this stage?


On Jan. 31, 2019, New York Knicks fans glared at the phone screens in shock as they learned that their hero, Kristaps Porzingis had been traded to the Dallas Mavericks.

Who did the Knicks get in return for Kristaps Porzingis in the Dallas Mavericks trade?

Porzingis, along with guards Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke, and Courtney Lee, had just been dealt to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews, DeAndre Jordan, and a 2021 (unprotected) and 2023 (protected) first round pick.

Just over a year later, it’s time to look back each piece of this trade and through evaluation of their effectiveness on the team give them a personal rating. I will then determine if the Knicks won or lost this blockbuster deal.

Knicks

Dennis Smith Jr.

When the Knicks received North Carolina State product Dennis Smith Jr., it was a truly ironic move. Just two years prior, fans were irate over the fact that Phil Jackson had selected point guard Frank Ntilikina out of France over Smith.

Now, the Knicks are in possession of both and it’s hard to say if the result could be worse thus far.

Smith was traded to the Knicks just days after putting up a triple-double at MSG in his final game as a Dallas Maverick. He had an immediate impact, averaging 14.7 points along with 5.4 assists. Not bad to begin a tenure in NY.

The story of the following offseason had everyone staring, as you could look across social media every day and see Smith putting in relentless work to be ready for a season with high expectations.

This is where everything hits rock bottom.

Smith was diagnosed with a back injury early in the 2019-20 season. That was followed by a severe oblique injury and a concussion. In his 34 games played, the 22-year-old out of Fayetteville, North Carolina scored a measly 5.5 points per game while shooting 34 percent from the field.

Throughout this entire mishap of a year, it was rumored that Smith had requested a trade. Per Marc Berman of The New York Post, Smith was quoted saying:

  1. “I’m not really a wait-around-type guy, you know what I’m saying?”

The quote arrived after a series of DNP’s following his eligibility off of the aforementioned oblique injury. We saw more progression in Ntilikina’s game this season, so maybe Jackson did make the right move after all.

It’s obvious that Dennis Smith Jr. was the highlight of the package that Knicks had received. We’ll have to see how he progresses in 2020-21, but for now, I’m rating this acquisition as a failure.

My Rating: D+

Wesley Matthews

This is definitely the easiest player to evaluate on New York’s side. Matthews played two games for the Knicks in 2019 before they decided to buy out his contract so he could sign with a contender.

Matthews was only a throw-in, so don’t take any move made with him seriously.

My rating: N/A

DeAndre Jordan

Deandre Jordan’s contributions to the Knicks started out promising but had a very bitter aftertaste. Upon his arrival in New York, people questioned if Jordan would even get minutes on the team, as they were far from a playoff birth, as well as looking to play rookie center Mitchell Robinson for a significant amount of minutes.

Jordan ended up becoming the starter, however, and it was becoming evident that the now 11-year NBA vet was establishing himself as the perfect mentor for Robinson. The two have the same style of play, and this was the first time Robinson had the opportunity to be taken under someone’s wing that he could specifically relate to.

Because of this, I had high hopes that, following a big offseason, Jordan would take a pay cut to stay with the Knicks and play a very similar role. Unfortunately, that big offseason went to the Brooklyn Nets and Jordan’s new apprentice became Jarrett Allen.

My Rating: C

2021 and 2023 First Round Picks

Not too much to say here. I think it’s quite obvious that the Knicks were and still are looking for draft picks as they continue to try to establish a productive rebuild, and the Mavericks were able to provide a couple in the exchange.

With the 2023 pick being protected from the “juicy” part of the lottery, it’s the 2021 pick that has the best chance to have a significant impact for the Orange and Blue.

Fans shouldn’t get their hopes up, as the Mavericks only got better as the year progressed this season and are without a doubt a contender for next season. The Knicks will be extremely lucky if this pick sniffs the brim of the lottery.

My Rating: B-

Mavericks

Kristaps Porzingis

Before I get into this evaluation, it needs to be established that Porzingis was and still is the crown jewel of the entire trade. The Latvian big man was getting sick and tired of the Knicks’ dysfunction, and the Mavericks were looking for an All-Star to be paired with and complement Luka Doncic.

Porzinigs didn’t play the entirety of the 2018-19 season as he continued to recover from a torn ACL. He had a slow start to the 2019-2020 season along with that.

He was able to bounce back however, averaging just south of 20 points per game along with 9.5 boards prior to the NBA’s suspension. Entering his sixth NBA season, Porzingis, still just 25 years old, has likely not even hit his ceiling yet.

That Mavericks team is looking as good as they have since their 2010-11 championship.

My Rating: A-

Trey Burke

Trey Burke played 17 minutes for the Mavs once he arrived in Dallas, but I would still compare his value to Wesley Matthews’. Burke signed with the 76ers following 2018-19’s conclusion.

My Rating: N/A

Courtney Lee

The Mavericks are Lee’s eighth NBA team and what’s evident to me is that his role has never changed. The 34-year-old is relied on to play productive minutes off the bench night in and night out, and he’s one of the guys that can be relied on to do that.

He’s been solid.

My rating: C+

Tim Hardaway Jr.

Tim Hardaway Jr. is serving as the starting shooting guard for the Dallas Mavericks in the third year of his four-year, $71 million contract. It’s a contract that the Knicks gave him prior to the 2017-18 season.

His primary task is to shoot from behind the arc and give the offense a consistent dose of the 3-pointer. Hardaway shoots 40.7 percent from three-point range and averages 15.8 points per game.

While he definitely is streaky, I’d say the Mavs have benefited from his play. When Dallas gets a shot at a playoff run, defenses need to make sure they don’t give this man any space.

My Rating B+

Knicks’ Overall Rating: C-

Mavericks’ Overall Rating: B+

It’s fairly obvious that the Mavericks won this trade, and it’s hard to convince me otherwise. My personal belief is that once Porzingis demanded a trade, the front office reacted too quickly and jumped the gun rather than exploring options.

Barring a superstar selection in the 2021 or 2023 draft, or a sudden surge from Dennis Smith Jr., it can safely be said that the Dallas Mavericks have effectively secured the much greater haul—and could make a run at a title in 2020

Unlike the New York Knicks, the Dallas Mavericks didn’t give up any needed assets to do so.

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