NEW YORK (WFAN.com) -- The New York Knicks on Thursday traded their biggest star, Kristaps Porzingis, to the Dallas Mavericks -- a shocking and sudden exit for a player who was cherished as the future of the franchise.
The stunning development came hours after the All-Star power forward reportedly met with Knicks management to vent about the direction of the franchise.
In addition to Porzingis, the Knicks sent high-priced veteran guards Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee along with Trey Burke to Dallas in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr., the expiring contracts of center DeAndre Jordan and swingman Wesley Matthews and two future first-round picks (in 2021 and 2023).
The deal creates enough salary-cap space for the Knicks to sign two max-contract free agents this summer.
Porzingis was a fan favorite. His departure is a painful blow to Knicks fans who have suffered so much in recent years.
Mike Francesa reacted to the stunning news that Porzingis was set to be dealt to Dallas, saying he thinks it’s a tremendous deal for the Mavericks -- and not a bad one for the Knicks.
“If Porzingis is healthy next year, Dallas is back,” Francesa said. “First of all, they’re very well coached (by Rick Carlisle). Secondly, you got the kid there who is going to be a triple-double for his whole life: (Luka) Doncic is unbelievable. You got him and Porzingis, they are going to be a terrific team.”
Porzingis has not played since he tore his ACL in February 2018. He was enjoying an All-Star season when he got hurt last year, averaging a career-high 22.7 points per game. The Latvian turns 24 this summer, when he is also set to become a restricted free agent. Porzingis is planning to inform the Mavericks he intends to sign a one-year qualifying offer this summer, according to The Athletic.
The Knicks’s record of 10-40 is the worst in the league, but winning has not been the organization's focus this season as it rebuilds with the goal of becoming a consistent contender in the future. Jordan and Matthews likely will be bought out by the Knicks in the coming weeks, making them free agents. Smith, a point guard drafted ninth overall by Dallas in 2017 (one spot after the Knicks selected Frank Ntilikina), is averaging 12.9 points and 4.3 assists this season.
Francesa believes the deal is a prelude to the Knicks swinging for the fences in free agency this summer. The 2019 class is led by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
“With the Knicks you have enough money now for two max free agents," Francesa said. "And they kept their pick, which they have to … Smith can play, Smith can definitely play. You gotta make sure he’s healthy, but he can play. The other two are expiring contracts. It gives them more flexibility. They did not bring back a big player for Porzingis, but he’s injured.”