When the news broke yesterday afternoon that the Dallas Mavericks were surprise trade partners with the New York Knicks and acquired Kristaps Porzingis, the Moneyball staff was stunned. Hours later, after all the details of the trade were finalized and the news settled some, everyone chimed in with their initial reactions.
So.... the Mavericks made a second straight blockbuster trade (remember draft night and Luka Doncic)! What in the world is happening? What’s your gut reaction?
Jordan: My phone started going off nonstop as I stood outside shoveling my car out of the below zero frigid snow of Chicago, and I thought it was because I was late to work. Then I got the notification, and I had this huge adrenaline rush and I couldn’t tell if it was because I was digging, or because Porzingis is now a Maverick.
There are obvious risks involved in this trade, all pinned to the injured leg of the young phenom center. But it’s a home run swing from the front office. They’ve bought in fully to building around Luka Doncic, and managed to grab not only his hopeful future running mate, but a couple of wing pieces that could play around Luka nicely in the meantime. I’ve been yelling all season about getting more and better wings in Dallas, and this is maybe that. I like Courtney Lee, and think there is potential in Hardaway Jr. to be unlocked. Trey Burke, I assume, will just be around to finish out this season.
My biggest snag is the additional first round picks. In Doncic and Porzingis, the Mavericks have essentially traded lottery pick Dennis Smith Jr., plus three additional first round picks. That’s really going all in. I’m a draft guy, so I’d like to see the Mavericks use it more. But I also know that isn’t their preferred path. It would have been nice to use those picks on someone healthier. But the potential with these two young stars is undeniable. And I love swinging for the fences here, than aiming for 30 year old vets in free agency to play with Luka. This is the sort of thing New Orleans was not doing enough of for Anthony Davis. Much to be determined, but you can’t accuse the Mavericks of being uninteresting.
Ian: It feels almost quaint to think about how surprised we were two years ago when Dallas pulled off another “shocker” trade to acquire a young big man in Nerlens Noel. This is orders of magnitude greater not just in the talent level of the player being acquired, but in how stunning and unexpected the whole thing was. In the early afternoon, word had leaked that Kristaps wanted out of NY, being fed up with the team’s questionable management decisions and overt tanking. When the first wave of potential destinations came out, Dallas was unsurprisingly not among them. It didn’t seem like the Mavs had anywhere near the trade ammunition necessary to get Kristaps.
Welp. There’s so much to unpack here, starting with the truly amazing idea of transitioning from the Dirk era to not just the Luka era but the Luka-Kristaps era, with that pair forming a two man game similar to the one Dirk ran with Steve Nash years ago, only somehow this version is nearly a foot taller(!). It’s almost too good to be true. Which, I suppose, brings us to some needed dosage of reality. The fact that Kristaps was available for a mid-level guard prospect and a pair of non-lottery(we think) draft picks says something about where Porzingis’ trade value was at. Still rehabbing from an ACL injury, Kristaps has missed a good chunk of time from injury in his short career, and the downside to being 7’3 in this case is that the risks associated with leg injuries become that much stronger. If Porzingis doesn’t pan out, Dallas will have a serious problem on their hands, and a gaping hole in their draft stockpile to address it.
Still, it’s hard to come away with any other impression than that this was a gamble worth taking. Kristaps and Luka could be a true star combo in Dallas, and with the right specialists around them, Rick Carlisle should have his most talented team by far since the title squad in 2010-11. Any sour feelings about the picks or about Dennis(and I do feel remorse that things didn’t work out differently for him in Dallas; hopefully he’ll thrive in the Big Apple) has to be overshadowed by the sense of hope and optimism that the 7’3 Latvian Porzingis brings. This is a fun moment for the franchise.
Kirk: It’s going to take a long time to digest this, but my initial reaction is “holy crap”. On the one hand, the Mavericks traded Dennis Smith and three draft picks for Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis! A superstar in Doncic and a 23 year old big man that still has so much potential. On the other hand, the Mavericks have gambled big time on the health of a 7’3” guy who has a rather frightening health history. When I peel this all the way back, both my head and my heart know this was a good idea. Dallas now has two players with talent and potential to grow. That’s what the draft is for so I really shouldn’t think about the future picks Dallas owes.
So short story, ignore me while I worry about something which isn’t likely to matter. Let’s get KP on the floor and see what all we have.
Doyle: Is this real life? After all the blunders the Mavericks have put fans--and themselves--through since the championship, is this the year Dallas finally gets back on track? Right now, the answer appears to be yes.
This looks like a team on a mission. On draft night, they went all in and nabbed Doncic and made fools of three other franchises. Now, they go for broke and deal three players who weren’t in their long term plans for a player who is, when healthy, a genuine superstar. Porzingis is a potential franchise centerpiece.
The worrisome part is whether the Unicorn wants to stay in Dallas. We still don’t know what his end goal is. However, he’ll be a Maverick for at least a season if he opts for a qualifying offer. He would also be leaving about $23 million on the table if he does that. So, based on that alone, he may have a change of heart and want to take a max offer from the Mavs.
Regardless of what the future holds, it’s nice to see the Mavericks as movers and shakers again. This move will excite the fanbase and energize the crowds at the AAC. That alone is worth making the trade. The potential of Doncic and Porzingis together for years makes it extraordinary.
I guess we all should have listened to Mark Cuban closer when he made those racially insensitive remarks about where players come from. If we had, we might have seen this coming.
Sam: My gut reaction was that I was getting increasingly frustrated that I was sitting in a work department meeting while the news broke, listening to people gab about metrics and other non important things while the Mavericks just traded for one of the best young players in the league, though he isn’t without his warts.
Honestly my first feelings were that of trepidation. A big man coming off a lower body injury (an ACL tear at that!) and who isn’t locked up long term is worrisome, and the Mavericks have officially sent the farm to acquire Doncic and Porzingis. If this doesn’t work out, the Mavericks could be in some serious trouble.
On the flip side, the Mavericks made a bold move in acquiring a second potential superstar to pair with Doncic for years to come. That’s exciting and instiled hope that this team will make the necessary moves to take advantage of a generational talent in Doncic, unlike a team in the Bayou has done.
I’ll certainly miss Smith as he was the first blue-chip prospect I had seen this team draft with my own two eyes. I had and will always have a fondness for him, but the Mavericks made a necessary gamble that could change the trajectory of this franchise if it pays off.
Brice: My gut reaction was initially confusion, excitement and disbelief. Beijing at the game the night before nothing felt different or that there was a move that was imminent. Carlisle even said in his post game press conference that Dennis’ triple double meant the two could play together.
Luka said he and Kristaps talked and that the two were close but I didn’t think much of it. Knicks reporters said they hadn’t seen Porzingis at games in a while before that night and I didn’t think much of it. Then it’s a day later and somehow Porzingis is a Maverick.
It all feels so sudden and so exciting. Outside of Dallas drafting Luka Doncic this is the most exciting thing to happen to the team since the title.
This team being hamstrung from chasing big free agents they’ll never get is probably what’s best for the team. If it means mortgaging the future on a guy like Porzingis you take that risk every time. I’m excited to see how this all plays out. At least the Mavericks are never boring