Knicks-Celtics trade discussion in 2019 had the potential to change everything

Things would've been so different.
New York Knicks, Kristaps Porzingis
New York Knicks, Kristaps Porzingis / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

Over five years ago, the New York Knicks traded Kristaps Porzingis to the Mavericks. Since his two-and-a-half season stint in Dallas, the No. 4 overall pick in 2015 spent a season-and-a-half with the Wizards. In the 2023 offseason, he was sent to the Celtics as part of a three-team trade.

In his first season in Boston, Porzingis will play in his first NBA Finals. Or, he's expected to after missing over a month with a strained calf. Ironically enough, the Celtics will face the Mavericks in a match-up that few saw coming.

After a failed stint in Brooklyn that didn't see the Nets make the Eastern Conference Finals, Kyrie Irving is back on basketball's biggest stage.

The offseason after Porzingis was traded to the Mavericks, Irving had the opportunity to play for the Knicks, but he and Kevin Durant opted for their crosstown rival. It turns out that Irving could've already been in New York at that point.

Knicks and Celtics reportedly discussed Porzingis-Irving trade in 2019

On Monday, Yahoo Sports' Jake Fischer reported that the Knicks and Celtics discussed a trade before New York sent KP to Dallas.

"But come late January, when New York’s front office began to quietly pursue deals to move on from Porziņģis, the Celtics and Knicks even held tangible dialogue about swapping Irving for the 7-2 sharpshooter, league sources told Yahoo Sports, before the Mavericks swooped in and sent a package headlined by two first-round picks to New York."

Jake Fischer, Yahoo Sports

Imagine if Irving had been traded to the Knicks. Would he have stayed in New York in free agency? Would Durant have joined him? Would Irving have left after a few months? It might seem bizarre to say this, especially since Irving is in the NBA Finals, but in retrospect, the Knicks got lucky. The COVID-19 pandemic would still have happened, and the New York City vaccine mandate would've still been an issue.

The Nets didn't win their first championship with Irving, Durant, and James Harden (who joined them later). The Knicks likely wouldn't have ended their championship drought with that duo (maybe a trio if New York would've been open to trading for Harden).

Irving's found the right place for him. The Mavericks lost Jalen Brunson in 2022 free agency but traded for the veteran point guard less than a year later. New York got Brunson (and dodged Irving and Durant), while Dallas got Irving. Boston would've gotten Porzingis a few years early. It's worth wondering if he still would've been a Celtic or if they would've won a title with him already.