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Roundtable: Trading Kristaps Porzingis?

Some thoughts following a Dallas Morning News column

BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2017 Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

This week Dallas Morning News Columnist Tim Cowlishaw suggested the Mavericks trade Kristaps Porzingis for Ben Simmons. While he acknowledges it’s not a real trade, it’s largely about the value of Porzingis and the need for Dallas to have some defensive players. It got us to thinking and talking: should the Mavericks trade Kristaps Porzingis? Should he get more time or should they move him as soon as possible?

Darreck: I think you have to give him this one final year to really evaluate. It’s a new coaching staff and his first healthy off-season in three or four years. His value is at it’s a lowest right now so we wouldn’t be able to do much in all likelihood anyway. I don’t see the Simmons swap happening. Might as well give him this last year to see if he can fill the role they envisioned when they acquired him. If not, he will have two years left on his contract and be easier to move.

Xavier: Despite all the time we spend arguing about other players, Porzingis and Porzingis alone holds the key to the Maverick’s season. If he regains the ability to protect the rim, it will unlock the team on both ends of the floor. Because of his contract, there isn’t a player or package we could get in return that would raise the team’s ceiling the way Kristaps Porzingis would as the defensive anchor.

Jordan: It really should be two separate questions: should the Mavericks trade Porzingis; and should the Mavericks trade Porzingis for Simmons? The answer to both right now is no. The least complicated path to contention involves KP being healthy and fulfilling his role. With some new leadership (and healthy offseason) it was always worth seeing how it plays out. But I won’t be surprised that, if things are rocky early, KP is on the move by the deadline. NOW, should they trade him for Simmons? No, Simmons doesn’t fix the problems the Mavericks have and he won’t play the role that the Mavericks would need him to — so now, or five months from now the answer is no.

Ben: There aren’t a lot of Porzingis trade scenarios I’d say no to, but this is one. Not only does Simmons’ complete unwillingness to shoot cause as many problems on offense as he solves on defense, his performance in last year’s playoffs is still shocking. I can’t remember a player of his caliber shrinking in such a way in the postseason. It’s truly historic. So while I’m comfortable with the idea of moving on from Porzingis, if it’s for Simmons, I’m out.

Luke: Look… I’m not on board with the idea of trading Porzingis for Simmons, but I’m not NOT on board with it. The ideal guy to play next to Luka is someone in the Kristaps mold — a guy who can stretch the floor and protect the rim. Unfortunately, KP doesn’t actually do a lot of protecting the rim, and he’s so fragile that who knows how often he’ll be around to actually stretch the floor. Giving Luka a Ben Simmons type of player to play next to would be interesting, but more so a sign of desperation, and I don’t think they have a need to be that desperate — yet.

Matthew: I understand the appeal of this idea and Simmons would solve one Mavericks problem. The team currently has no point of attack defender and Simmons is the best in the league. The problem is the reason this trade idea doesn’t work is actually mentioned in the article. “I’m just wondering what the Mavericks would be like if they had Doncic doing his thing with plenty of shooters to spread the ball to at one end and a world-class defender at the other end.”

The problem is they can’t have plenty of shooters around Luka and Simmons. Despite his height Simmons neither defends bigs nor protects the rim. The Mavericks would have to play Simmons with a center, meaning they would not have plenty of shooting. Maxi Kleber can play the 5 some, which would mitigate this issue but a lineup with Kleber and Simmons as the only big men would get killed on the boards and in the paint. Further Maxi has not shown an ability to hold up to rigors of a full season so asking even more of him seems foolish.

The difference in spacing with Porzingis versus Simmons cannot be overstated. Porzingis obviously offers a ton of spacing himself but his size also allows the team to play Dorian Finney-Smith or Kleber as a 4, creating even more spacing. Luka has famously remarked that it is easier to score in the NBA than FIBA because of how spaced out the floor is. This trade would take away a ton of the space he thrives in.

Kirk: There’s no way to move him now, so it’s a marriage of necessity. I suspect both parties involved understand that it’s in everyone’s best interest that Kristaps Porzingis plays well. It’s just so difficult as all available data and past history on huge guys with injury histories project a guy who won’t ever be able to play more than two thirds of a season. The Mavericks need more from that from their second guy. I don’t think they move on from him soon, but if things look good this season, perhaps they try to move on while the value exists.