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The Dallas Mavericks are still the winners of the Kristaps Porzingis trade

It’s been a bumpy ride, but the Mavericks are still in good shape with their franchise-altering trade

Mavericks and Knicks fans are going to read the headline and believe I need to set up an immediate session with Frasier Crane but truly, if we look back since Feb. 1, 2019 till now, I wholeheartedly believe that the Dallas Mavericks won the Kristaps Porzingis trade.

The Knicks (currently 19-18 ) are in playoff contention for the first time since the 40 year-old Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler 2013 team. Dallas native Julius Randle is having a remarkable break-out season and the Knicks actually look....impressive?

Even with their potentially promising future with a playoff berth this year, Dallas already received that last year in a thrilling six game series with an NBA Finals favorite in the Los Angeles Clippers and will be in the playoff hunt for all of the Luka Doncic-Kristaps Porzingis era. As Porzingis is two games away from approaching 82 total games as a Dallas Maverick, I want to state my reasons why two years in, Dallas (currently 18-16) has won the Porzingis trade.

Dennis Smith Jr was a bust in New York

When the Mavs acquired Porzingis, Dallas gave the Knicks in return Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, a 2021 first round pick as well as 2023 first round pick (conditional on the Mavericks not moving up in the 2019 lottery, which they did not, otherwise those picks would’ve been 2022 and 2024). Smith was a second year super athletic guard who was supposed to be the scoring guard of the future for the Knicks. He showed amazing flashes as an All-Rookie for the Mavs and was set for a big role for the Mavericks his sophomore year until Luka Doncic started doing Luka Doncic things and that marriage never seemed to quite work.

It was only right the Mavs traded him and he was the biggest player-asset Dallas gave up to get Porzingis. Once traded to the Knicks, the injury bug hit Smith and new coach Tom Thibodeau’s strategy to play his best players the entire game created a shorter rotation which left Smith on the bench. This caused him to eventually get traded to the Pistons, where he is now trying to rejuvenate his career.

So if you were to tell me Dallas gave up three guys who are not even on the Knicks two years later (Wesley Matthews only played one game for New York) for an 7’3” 25 year old who is averaging 20 points and 8 rebounds and not even at his full-self then I’ll take that deal seven days a week and twice on Tuesday.

Tim Hardaway Jr. is that guy!

My personal but brutally straightforward opinion — if you got the best player in a trade, it’s hard for me to say that you lost a trade. If you received the best two players in a trade… it’s no question who ‘won’.

As our own Ben Zajdel stated this past weekend: “[Tim] Hardaway has become an integral part of the Mavericks’ roster.”

Tim Hardaway Jr. through 123 games as a Maverick is averaging 16 points per game while shooting 39% from deep and establishing himself as one of the microwave-type players in the league. The Knicks gave Dallas Hardaway as a “salary dump veteran” but I bet they wish they had his veteran experience and consistent shooting stroke to go along with some of those young guards such as Immanuel Quickley and R.J Barrett.

Also if you are a true Mavericks fan you must know when Tim Hardaway Sr. attends a Mavs game, Hardaway puts up nuclear performances and nearly guarantees a win when he’s there. It’s hard for me to go against those odds as if he were to attend every single Dallas game, I would take my savings, put it into my checking account, and head to Vegas to place a bet on the Mavericks winning the Larry O’Brien.

Dallas needed a second star… who is not old

There’s a funny line in The Office where Steve Carrell’s character Michael Scott, a profound idiot, says “you know what they say. Fool me once, strike one, but fool me twice...strike three.”

In terms of free agency/trade acquisitions, Dallas was on strike three a decade ago. Whether it’s letting Tyson Chandler walk in 2011, not signing prime Deron Williams, not signing prime Dwight Howard, the prime DeAndre Jordan fiasco, signing Williams only after he lost his secret stuff, trading for Rajon Rondo in 2014 when Dallas was legitimately awesome, to signing DeAndre Jordan four years later just to trade him half a season in and recently missing out on Kemba Walker. Stars do not sign in Dallas and that’s okay — that’s why if Dallas can do a mid-season trade for one, they should hop on it.

Dallas needs to get a star who is on his way towards reaching his potential or entering his prime and they got that with Porzingis. They took the risk of taking Porzingis off of a knee injury from the Knicks but that move turned into the 2020 Mavs having the most efficient offensive team in NBA history with an offensive net rating of 115.9 per 100 possessions.

Porzingis, when healthy, is the perfect big man to go along Doncic for the future and the best time that showed was in the six games in the bubble last season where Porzingis averaged 30.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. His ability to pick and pop, taking advantage of a mismatch for the opposing center, creating immaculate spacing for Doncic and the shooters was a sight to see. Thanks to this historic offense, the Mavericks were able to break a four year playoff hiatus.

The Knicks could have had a better deal!

So the Knicks did sign Julius Randle and Marcus Morris in the Summer of 2019 and traded Morris for a first round pick which turned out to be Immanuel Quickly.

Great move, no question.

But they had enough cap space to not do the Porzingis trade, keep him and sign Julius Randle to play along with he and RJ Barrett. Instead they were impatient. If they wanted to trade Porzingis, his value was way higher than what the Mavericks gave them unless they thought Dallas was going to be a lottery team in the next three years and overrated the value of those two first round picks they received.

Players such as D’Angelo Russell, Blake Griffin and Andrew Wiggins were traded for way more value than Porzingis when he is in the same group if not higher caliber of talent. Ex-Knicks President Steve Mills said they had eight potential trade scenarios with one being a possible Pelicans Anthony Davis trade. Trading away such a high potential talent for no return to show for it now but two future draft picks is a tough loss.

The Knicks’ front office claimed doing the trade with the Mavericks originally was to create cap space for a possible big free agent signing of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant summer of 2019 and dump Hardaway’s and Courtney Lee’s contract but they paid a premium. Not only did they lose out on both guys but they went down the street to play in Barclays Center and take DeAndre Jordan with them. These consistent misses caused President Steve Mills and coach David Fizdale to be without NBA jobs to this day.

KP is still a unicorn

Yes, I know the main reason New York Media outlets believe they won the trade is because Porzingis have missed a ton of games in his tenure as a Maverick. Healthy Porzingis still has major superstar upside. Porzingis’s potential to be a major building block of the future is still high.

Porzingis is not being asked to be the main guy now, he’s a secondary option and possibly can be good enough to be a second option on a contending team if he can put up the stats he had in his sole All-Star season in New York.

It’s no question that if he shows the desire to be elite, he can truly cement himself as an elite big man in today’s NBA. One step in the right direction for Porzingis is next offseason, be able to train without worrying about rehabbing another injury so he can start the season ready to take contact better. Hopefully working on his body and getting a better diet will cause him not to be so injury prone.

In regards to the original trade, even if Porzingis misses some games, Doncic is so good the Mavericks floor can only be so low. It’s doubtful the Knicks will receive a lottery pick. I can confidently say I don’t believe there is no non-lottery pick in the 2022 draft as well as the 2023 draft that will have more talent and upside than Kristaps Porzingis.

The only way Dallas can lose this trade is if something catastrophic happens to Porzingis or the rest of the team. I think Mark Cuban is willing to take on that risk and the Mavericks are better for it.