Knicks agree to trade Kristaps Porzingis to Mavericks, report says
Kristaps Porzingis won’t be rejoining the Knicks once his knee is healed.
Instead, he’s on his way to Dallas after a surprising trade the Knicks say the All-Star forward requested Thursday.
The Knicks dealt Porzingis to the Mavericks in a seven-player swap that also netted New York two future first-round draft picks and possibly enough room to afford two top free agents this summer.
‘‘As is standard for this time of year, we were exploring various options on potential trades,’’ Knicks general manager Scott Perry said in a statement. ‘‘Considering the uncertainty regarding Kristaps’s free agent status and his request today to be traded, we made a trade that we are confident improves the franchise.’’
Porzingis has been sidelined for nearly a year after tearing his left ACL. The Knicks said recently he would undergo testing during the middle of February that could have determined if he would be able to return this season.
If he does, it will be in Dallas, where he can form an intriguing international frontcourt with rookie Luka Doncic. Both played professionally in Spain before coming to the NBA as top-five picks.
The Knicks acquired Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews in the deal, while also sending guards Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Courtney Lee to Dallas. Neither team said when the Knicks would get the two first-round picks.
The 7-foot-3-inch Porzingis was the No. 4 pick in the 2015 draft and averaged 17.8 points and 7.1 rebounds in New York, where he was expected to be the Knicks’ franchise player for years. But they declined to give him a contract extension before this season, and now by trading him and Hardaway seem instead to be gearing up to pursue players in free agency.
Hardaway has two more years and about $37 million left on his contract, and moving that was necessary if the Knicks were going to find a way to open the most cap space possible.
New York (10-40) has the worst record in the NBA and is headed toward landing a high pick in the draft. Then the Knicks will be set up to be big spenders — perhaps for two top players — in a free agent market that could include Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and more.
But they won’t have Porzingis, who they once believed was the kind of talent who could help attract those players. The Latvian has 3-point range on offense and shot-blocking skills on defense, and had made his first All-Star team just before tearing his ACL after a dunk against Milwaukee on Feb. 6.
He had been frustrated with the franchise before, skipping his exit meeting after his second season before returning to Europe for the summer. But Knicks coach David Fizdale had said Porzingis was frequently around the team even while he couldn’t play, taking part in meetings and some activities on the court.
The most valuable player in the deal from the Knicks’ standpoint is likely Smith, the point guard they passed on with the No. 8 pick in 2017 when they instead took Frank Ntilikina. The Mavericks took Smith one pick later, and he posted the second triple-double of his career Wednesday when Dallas won at Madison Square Garden.
Jordan is a former US Olympian and top defensive center, but it’s unclear if the Knicks will hold onto him. They are focused on playing their young players, so they could look to move Jordan. The trade deadline is next Thursday.
All-Star Game reserves
New Orleans has an All-Star for the sixth straight year.
That is, unless he gets traded first.
Pelicans standout Anthony Davis — only three days removed from having his trade request made known publicly — was one of the 14 players announced as reserves for the All-Star Game in Charlotte. Davis wants to be swapped out of New Orleans by the Feb. 7 trade deadline, so it remains unclear if his uniform for the All-Star contest on Feb. 17 will bear a Pelicans logo.
It’s the sixth consecutive All-Star nod for Davis. The Pelicans aren’t sure if he'll play for them again, though there’s also no guarantee that he gets traded by next week either.
‘‘That’s something that will obviously have to be discussed about what’s best for him and what’s best for our team,’’ Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said.
The other Western Conference reserves are Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, Denver’s Nikola Jokic, Portland’s Damian Lillard, Golden State’s Klay Thompson, San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns.
Jokic said he wasn’t surprised, though some of the people closest to him, he said, were apparently caught a bit off-guard.
‘‘My girlfriend started to cry and my brother started yelling and screaming,’’ Jokic said on TNT, which broadcast the reserve announcements.
Indiana’s Victor Oladipo was selected as one of the Eastern Conference reserves, even though his season is over because of injury. The other reserves from the East are Toronto’s Kyle Lowry, Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton, Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, Washington’s Bradley Beal, Detroit’s Blake Griffin and Orlando’s Nikola Vucevic — the first Magic player to make the game since Dwight Howard in 2012.
Jokic, Middleton, Simmons and Vucevic are the first-time All-Stars.
Fans, media and players collaborated on the voting for the starters. The reserves were picked by NBA coaches.
‘‘It’s truly an honor to be selected as an All-Star by the coaches in our league,’’ Griffin said.
Dallas rookie Luka Doncic didn’t make the cut, getting denied in his bid to be the first rookie since Griffin in 2011 to be picked for the game. Only seven rookies in the last 30 years have been All-Stars — Griffin, Yao Ming, Tim Duncan, Grant Hill, Shaquille O’Neal, Dikembe Mutombo and David Robinson.
Utah’s Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert both fell short, as did the Los Angeles Clippers’ Tobias Harris. Phoenix’s Devin Harris also wasn’t picked, despite entering Thursday 11th in the NBA in scoring and 10th in assists. Rebounding leader Andre Drummond of Detroit also didn’t make the game.
Up next: The All-Star draft, to be handled by team captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo on Feb. 7. James will have the first overall pick, and they’ll keep going until each side has 12 players for the matchup. James and Antetokounmpo will pick the starters first — with that pool including Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard, Boston’s Kyrie Irving, Charlotte’s Kemba Walker, Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City’s Paul George and Houston’s James Harden.
Meanwhile, for the second time in three years, the fans’ hopes to see Miami’s Dwyane Wade play one more All-Star Game seem dashed.
There is one path for Wade to make the All-Star Game, and that’s if NBA commissioner Adam Silver chooses him as Oladipo’s replacement. But there’s no shortage of other candidates from the East, with Philadelphia’s Jimmy Butler, Brooklyn’s D’Angelo Russell and Boston’s Jayson Tatum all figuring to be worthy of consideration.
Wade got the second-most votes of any Eastern Conference guard in 2017 and the second-most votes of any East guard again this year — and in both cases, he didn’t make the team even as a reserve. Under the system that was in place through 2016, he would have been a starter. But the NBA went to a weighted voting system in 2017, one that put less emphasis on the fan vote.
So Wade’s career ends with 12 All-Star selections. He’s retiring after this season.
‘‘I don’t care. I don’t know how many times I've got to say it,’’ said Wade, whose stance throughout the All-Star voting process was he would play if selected, but he wasn’t going to lobby for a farewell appearance. ‘‘Whoever gets into the All-Star Game, congratulations to them. If it’s their first time, congratulations. I know how much it meant.’’