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Roundtable: Reacting to the Mavericks trading Kristaps Porzingis for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans

Dallas Mavericks v Washington Wizards Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

What’s your initial reaction to the trade of Kristaps Porzingis for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans?

Matt: It ended up being a case of simply needing to get off of KP’s contract. As high as his ceiling was, having that amount of money invested in a guy you can’t depend on to be on the court just isn’t the path to contention. It’s not all great, though. In Dinwiddie they get a guy who’s best incarnation was as an inefficient volume shooter on the pre-Durant Nets. It’s not a player profile that looks great no matter how much you squint, but Cuban getting the guy he wanted (i.e. the NBA’s leading crypto-enthusiast), is just high comedy.

With Bertans, you get the guy Rick Carlise wanted Porzingis to be in the first place. A big who won’t complain about standing in the corner and stretching the floor by shooting 40% from 3. And you get it without having to cater to all the rest of the baggage that comes with assuaging KP’s need for “more touches” and post ups to keep him engaged. Put together, Dallas isn’t really saving any money, but perhaps two contracts are easier to manage than one, and the hope has to be that at least they can count on these guys to be on the floor for extended stretches.

Ben: I don’t have to think about Porzingis anymore, so that’s a plus. If you enjoy unrealized tantalizing potential and checking injury reports, then you might have enjoyed the Porzingis experience. I did not. I’m not excited about the return of Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans. But two players on average contracts are easier to trade than one injury prone player on a max contract. And hey, maybe Dinwiddie and Bertans return to their previous play after escaping the quagmire that is the Washington Wizards.

Kirk: I’m pretty shocked they moved Porzingis. His availability is likely the main reason why they opted to move on, but he’s a ceiling raiser and now I think the team has real limits in terms of what they can do this year. Both Dinwiddie and Bertans have been actively bad. The hope has to be that, for Bertans at least, playing with Doncic gives him some life. Dinwiddie, I just don’t get it. Maybe he’s the second team playmaker/scorer guy? He needs the ball to be effective and there’s only one ball on the floor in basketball.

Luke: My initial reaction to the trade was shock. I just didn’t see it coming. I’m happy I never have to watch Porzingis in a Mavs uniform again (it’s just not a fun experience), but I wish the return was better. Dinwiddie scares me with his ball-stopping nature and Bertans is useless if he’s not knocking down threes at a high clip. Could we have thrown in some more stuff and gotten Kyle Kuzma in return? Who knows. Ultimately, this move is kind of meh. Getting off of KP is a good thing. Adding what they added isn’t a good thing. It’s a lateral move.

Matthew: I began the day concerned the Mavericks would do nothing. Now I wish they had. Davis Bertans is not a useable NBA player. Spencer Dinwiddie is not useful on the court with Luka Doncic. This is a horrendous trade and a terrible day to be a Mavericks fan.

Josh: I’m just most amazed that the Mavericks actually had the balls to move on from Porzingis, despite the amount of crowing and panhandling Mark Cuban and the rest of the Mavericks organization has done for the last three years. The trade, on paper, is neutral at best: Dinwiddie currently is an actively harmful player and Bertans got lost in the woods months ago. There is hope the Mavericks can wash the stench off those two players, but we don’t really have the track record of that with Jason Kidd’s coaching staff like we did with Rick Carlisle, who regularly polished up turds into diamonds. Assuming those players don’t turn things around, the Mavericks, right now, got worse. Even with Porzingis’ limited availability, there’s a chance these two players playing more for the current roster can drag down the team’s short term outlook.

However, there are lots of intriguing long-term implications: 1. The Mavericks have finally detonated a core that had grown stale a long time ago. If Porzingis can be moved, then that signals to me no one on the Mavericks roster is currently safe and the new regime is willing to mix things up. 2. It’s likely a net benefit to exchange one extremely large and toxic contract for two slightly smaller but also toxic contracts. At the very least the Mavericks can split their money up in more slices, which is helpful for matching salaries in trades. That doesn’t mean the Mavericks are going to flip these guys for stars, but these deals can at least get the money where it needs to be if the Mavericks find themselves in an advantageous position where a star wants to come to Dallas or a team is willing to get rid of an unhappy All-Star. 3. We no longer have to talk about Porzingis’ health or stature around the league. The war is over, we can all go home.

Doyle: I think it’s a move the Mavericks had to make. As much as I liked the promise of Porzingis, especially what we saw in the Bubble, it never became a sustainable reality. He simply isn’t available for long enough stretches of the season to really give Dallas the one-two punch with Luka Doncic that the team was hoping for since trading for him in 2019.

As for Spencer Dinwiddie, I’m sure he and Mark Cuban will bond over cryptocurrency conversations. Beyond that, he’s a capable ballhandler and knows how to run an offense. Even since Rick Carlisle was the coach, the Mavericks have needed more than one or two ball handling guards on the roster. Dinwiddie now gives them three, alongside Doncic and Jalen Brunson.

Bertans fills the Mavericks Latvian quotient now that Porzingis is gone. He is a fine forward that will play a reserve role most likely.

Jordan: So many people have asked for the Mavericks to do something; to move on from this version of the team and finally admit that going all in on an injury-prone giant with mood swings was a mistake. It was clear that game chemistry, and more importantly personality chemistry, was not meshing between Luka and KP. Catering to Porzingis’ style was a chore. Never knowing if a max contract player was healthy to play is draining. So the “new” front office moved on.

Does this solve everything, especially in the immediate? No. Plenty of questions remain, and it’s possible the team is worse this season. Dinwiddie and Bertans haven’t been good, and are due their money too. But I do believe it’s possible they bounce back playing with Doncic. And if they don’t, they are still movable. After all, we’ve also been begging the Mavericks to have players on the cap sheet in that pay range to use in other deals. The Mavericks have been playing well lately (even without Porzingis) so I understand the hesitancy to mess with that.

Maybe it’s my inability to get overly emotional about it all. But I can’t imagine being enraged by this. KP’s contract/injury history/style of play has been a monkey on this team’s back. And the front office has now shown they are willing to pivot. That’s a plus to me, even if this doesn’t solve everything.

We went live on Spotify Greenroom after the trade to take the temperature of fans following the crazy trade. Click here to listen or the embed below. Subscribe to our show on any podcast application by searching Mavs Moneyball Podcast.