We’ve got a few weeks before the NBA offseason gets going at full steam, so you know what that means— time for rampant speculation! And who better to speculate about than the Dallas Mavericks’ floor-spacing, 7’3” playoff decoy Kristaps Porzingis. Maybe new head coach Jason Kidd will find a better way to integrate Porzingis into the Mavericks’ Luka Doncic-centric offense. But right now, it’s more fun to think about the players Porzingis could bring back in a trade.
The thing is, Mavericks fans will have to recalibrate their expectations for the return on any Porzingis trade. You can forget about the Latvian corner 3-point specialist bringing back a star like Damian Lillard, or Bradley Beal. His value is too low right now. Maybe even too low to trade, which is something to discuss. But if you’re the type of fan who’s ready for the Mavericks to cut their losses and move on, this article is for you.
Below are four trades that work with the salary cap and make sense (for the most part) for the teams involved. I didn’t include draft picks in the particulars of the trades, because those are incredibly negotiable at this point. Again, we’re speculating here. Rampantly. If you’ve got a deal you like better, drop it in the comments. On to the trades:
Magic receive: Kristaps Porzingis
Mavericks receive: Gary Harris, Jr., Mo Bamba.
A version of this trade was floated on Zach Lowe’s podcast a few weeks ago, and I like it for both teams. The Magic get a former all-star for at least three years, and that’s something they can sell to fans. Porzingis pairs nicely with Jonathan Isaac in the front court, and if for some reason he doesn’t, could be used as a trade chip down the road if he performs at a high level. The Mavericks get to take a chance on Bamba, a former lottery pick, and acquire the streaky Harris as a shooter and playmaker on the perimeter. If Harris doesn’t work out, he’s only got one year remaining on his deal. Dallas could either move him at next year’s trade deadline, or renounce him in the offseason to clear space.
Pacers receive: Kristaps Porzingis, Jalen Brunson
Mavericks receive: Myles Turner, Malcolm Brogdon
This one is probably far-fetched now that Rick Carlisle is coaching the Pacers, but if Indiana is ready to move on from Turner, it could make sense. A healthy Porzingis is the type of player that the Pacers can’t typically acquire outside of a trade, so maybe they buy low. It’s a known rumor that they’re ready to choose Domantas Sabonis over Turner, and if they’re retooling their team they may as well move on from Brogdon as well. Jalen Brunson gives the trade a higher floor for the Pacers, as he replaces Brogdon and has potential for growth.
The benefit for the Mavericks is obvious. Brogdon provides a veteran back court mate for Doncic, and Turner slides into the center position. He shoots well enough for a big, and protects the rim. This one seems a little too one-sided for the Mavericks, though, so the Pacers would really have to be willing to take a chance on Porzingis.
Warriors receive: Kristaps Porzingis, Maxi Kleber
Mavericks receive: Andrew Wiggins, James Wiseman
Steph Curry will be 34 by the end of next season. Draymond Green seems to be slowing down. There’s no telling what Klay Thompson will look like when he returns to the court after tearing his ACL and Achilles’ tendon in consecutive seasons. The Warriors are in win-now mode, and they don’t have time to wait on Wiseman to develop. Maybe that makes them willing to take a chance on Porzingis.
The Mavericks get to see if Wiseman can develop into something like DeAndre Ayton alongside Doncic. It’s a risky bet at this point, but high lottery talent is worth taking a chance on. Wiggins comes along to make the salaries match, and provides the Mavericks with some depth on the wing. His contract is a year shorter than Porzingis’, so that’s a bonus.
Hornets receive: Kristaps Porzingis, Dwight Powell
Mavericks receive: Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier
The Hornets bring in Porzingis, who’s younger than Hayward, and slightly less injury prone. Powell gives them some front court depth. They also shed Rozier’s contract, though he’s been a crucial part of their rotation. Maybe the Mavericks have to send a first round pick in this scenario, or have to add Brunson to the deal. It’s hard to say. It would depend on how much the Hornets believe in Porzingis and his ability to return to his Bubble form.
Hayward fills a crucial role for the Mavericks, providing shooting and playmaking on the perimeter. If he can stay healthy, which is a big if. Rozier slots into the starting back court immediately, providing some shooting and the ability to chase around small guards that Doncic can’t. Again, this feels a little lopsided in favor of Dallas, but the Hornets might think that the best version of Porzingis pushes them to a top four playoff contender in the East. Or maybe Hayward’s injury history helps them pull the trigger. You never know.