It turns out that no player on the New York Knicks is untouchable after the NBA’s worst team traded away its best player, Kristaps Porzingis, to the Dallas Mavericks in a seven-player deal on Thursday afternoon.
The injured star, who not long ago was believed to be the face of the franchise, lasted just three-plus seasons in New York as general manager Scott Perry and president Steve Mills dealt the 23-year-old shortly after a meeting Thursday in which he expressed concern of the organization’s direction.
His mounting frustration, which has lasted for a few years now, must have been all the indication needed that Perry and Mills either were not going to be able to re-sign him or just didn’t want to.
In total, seven players were swapped in the deal as the Knicks also sent Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee, and Trey Burke to Dallas. In return, New York received second-year guard Dennis Smith Jr., and the expiring contracts of DeAndre Jordan and Wes Matthews along with two future first-round draft picks.
While the Knicks do pick up a guard that has shown legitimate promise at the NBA level in Smith before falling out of favor in Dallas after the emergence of Luka Doncic, they, more importantly, were able to shed some serious salary. After the departures of Matthews, Jordan, and Enes Kanter, the Knicks will have approximately $71 million in cap space for free agency this summer, which makes them major players for two max-salary contracts.
At this point, it almost seems like a lock that Kevin Durant will be making his way to Madison Square Garden this summer. He and the Knicks have been linked since last offseason when it became apparent that the superstar might not return to the Golden State Warriors.
The Knicks can offer Durant a max four-year deal worth $164 million, which comes out to around $38 million per year. That leaves $34 million for the Knicks to nab another big-name free agent. If that’s the case, the Knicks can simply ask Durant who he wants with him in New York, which could very well be Kyrie Irving.
Boston’s star point guard has seemingly been on the fence when it comes to his future with the Celtics. Last summer saw Irving state that he wouldn’t be signing an extension with the Celtics after being traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers. It immediately catapulted the Knicks as possible suitors after Irving expressed an interest in a homecoming of sorts. The 26-year-old grew up in New Jersey, just 15 miles from Madison Square Garden.
The tune changed at the start of the 2018-19 season when he said he would re-sign with the team, but it seems as though things have flip-flopped again.
Should Irving hit free agency, the Knicks shouldn’t have much of a problem recruiting him, especially if Durant is in the cards as well.
If that wasn’t good enough, the trading of Porzingis all but eliminates the Knicks’ chances of trading away their first-round pick for the likes of Anthony Davis this year. Suddenly if the Knicks can nab the No. 1 selection, they can slot Zion Williamson into the lineup.
Suddenly the Knicks are looking at a starting five that includes Irving, Dennis Smith Jr., Durant, and Williamson.
I think Knicks fans won’t mind dealing Porzingis if this is what the Knicks roll out in 2019-20.