The New York Knicks have largely been a dumpster fire for a better part of the 2000s mismanaging their basketball operations, but even Mark Cuban, who was on WFAN’s “Moose & Maggie”, remains astonished at what transpired during the blockbuster deal that landed Kristaps Porzingis in Dallas.
Porzingis, the former fourth overall pick in the 2015 draft was enduring an extensive rehab process after tearing his ACL in February 2018, when a tumultuous relationship with the Knicks’ brass came to an abrupt end.
Reports surfaced that the Latvian big man requested a trade, naming the Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors as his preferred destination. The Mavericks, having just traded valuable draft capital to snag Luka Doncic and devoid of any valuable trade chips outside of expiring contracts seemed like long shots to pull a rabbit out of the hat and land the promising and versatile Porzingis.
Speaking on “Moose & Maggie”, Cuban revealed just how stunned he was and likened the deal to the infamous James Harden trade in 2012:
“Very,” Cuban recalled. “It happens in the NBA. It’s like the James Harden trade. Harden gets traded from OKC to the Rockets and I’m like, damn, why didn’t we even get that offered to us? We weren’t in the mix. Nobody was. It was one phone call and the Rockets said yes. [The Porzingis trade] was our one phone call.”
Harden, who refused to accept anything less than a max extension, forced the Oklahoma City Thunder’s hand and was dealt to the Houston Rockets days before the season opener for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb and two first-round picks.
The Mavericks ‘one call’ included an offer of Dennis Smith Jr. the expiring contracts of DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews and two future first-round picks in exchange for Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr. Courtney Lee and Trey Burke. A good chunk of the NBA had a heyday after the deal went down.
The surprising nature of the Mavericks-Knicks mega-trade can be uncovered in the timeline of events. Around 1:45 EST Porzingis met with Knicks to discuss his future. By 3 p.m. Porzingis’ camp expressed his desire to be traded. Fifteen minutes later, ESPNs Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted the Nets, Clippers, Heat, Spurs and Raptors were interested in Porzingis, But at the fateful time of 3:37 p.m., Marc Stein, Shams Charania and Wojnarowski all tweeted that a colossal deal between New York and Dallas was all but done.
Cuban added that discussions about stars happen all the time between general managers. “We already had those conversations before. GMs talk all the time,” Cuban told WFAN. “We’re willing to do this if you ever want to give him up … We used to get calls on Dirk [Nowitzki] ‘we’ll give you A,B,C,D,E and F,’ but we’re not trading Dirk ever. [They said], ‘Well, if you do.’ In this case, [the Knicks] changed their mind.”
Like the Rockets with Harden, the Mavericks are hoping the partnership of Doncic and Porzingis can lead the franchise to a sustained run of playoff success. And through one season, the duo has the Mavericks in prime position to reach a postseason berth since 2016.
While the Knicks were afraid to make any long-term commitment to an injury-riddled Porzingis, the Mavericks were willing to gamble on the former 23-year-old all-star, and the bet seemed to be paying off as the season drew to a close.
From the start of February (14 games) Porzingis averaged 25 points, 11 rebounds and 24 blocks in 34 minutes per game while shooting 45 percent from the field and 37 percent from three. Before that, the Mavericks’ big man contributed 17 points, nine rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 31 minutes per game while shooting 30 percent from the field and 34 percent from three.
Dallas has Porzingis locked up for the next for the next four seasons after the 2020-21 campaign. If he can continue to shake of the rust and stay healthy, the Mavericks and Knicks trade could go down as one of the most lopsided trades of the decade.