The New York Knicks have officially traded Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks, the teams announced on Thursday night.
KNICKS ACQUIRE DENNIS SMITH JR., DEANDRE JORDAN, WESLEY MATTHEWS, AND TWO FUTURE FIRST ROUND PICKS pic.twitter.com/I40j5mEYL9— NY_KnicksPR (@NY_KnicksPR) January 31, 2019
The Knicks receive Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and two future first-round draft picks from the Mavericks in the deal. Courtney Lee, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke are headed to Dallas as the Knicks look to create cap space for free agency this summer.
Porzingis, who will become a restricted free agent this summer, reportedly plans to sign the qualifying offer with Dallas, which would set the stage for him to become an unrestricted free agent in 2020.
Sources: All-Star Kristaps Porzingis is planning to inform the Dallas Mavericks his intent is to sign the qualifying offer in restricted free agency this summer.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 31, 2019
Kristaps Porzingis, who can become a restricted free agent this summer, has yet to make a decision on his future with Dallas, league sources tell ESPN. He expects to start the process of getting to know the organization soon. Porzingis will continue to rehab his ACL injury.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 31, 2019
Earlier on Thursday, ESPN's Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelbourne reported that Porzingis met with team management and left them with the impression that he would prefer to be traded before next Thursday's NBA trade deadline.
"When he came in today, it was clear to us that it was time to pull the trigger on something," Knicks President Steve Mills said Thursday.
That was a seven-player swap with the Dallas Mavericks that also netted New York two future first-round draft picks and possibly enough room to afford two top free agents this summer.
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.
"As is standard for this time of year, we were exploring various option on potential trades," said GM Scott Perry in the Knicks' official release. "Considering uncertainty regarding Kristaps' free agent status and his request today to be traded, we made a trade that we are confident improves the franchise. We thank Kristaps, Tim, Courtney and Trey for their contributions and with them all the best."
Porzingis talked with Knicks management about the state of the franchise and his future with the team. Porzingis and his brother, Janis, who is also his agent, expressed their frustration with the franchise's losing ways, past dysfunction on the team and uncertainty over creating a sustainable, successful organization, Wojarowski reports.
Porzingis would join forces with rookie sensation Luka Doncic in Dallas.
Opponents last night, teammates today. 👀— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) January 31, 2019
Luka, Dirk & KP are ready to team up in Dallas! 🐴🐴🦄 pic.twitter.com/HzUMGVyGwD
The two can form an intriguing international frontcourt. They both played professionally in Spain before coming to the NBA as top-five picks.
"He's big, he can shoot, he can rebound. He can do a lot of things," said Doncic, who was with the Mavericks at their game in Detroit. "I think he can be one of the best players in this league."
The Knicks, for their part, felt like they did well in the trade.
"We feel like we did the right thing," Mills said. "When you're trying to think about how you want to build your team for the long term, you don't want to commit a max (contract) to a player who clearly says to you he doesn't want to be here."
The former No. 4 overall pick of the 2015 Draft, Porzings was named an All-Star in 2017-18, but his ACL injury occurred days after that and he never got to play in that game.
The Knicks have never won more than 32 games in each of Porzingis' three seasons and he played for three coaches -- Derek Fisher, Kurt Rambis and Jeff Hornacek -- during that span.
In December, team president Steve Mills said the team was pleased with Porzingis' recovery from his ACL, and another round of testing scheduled for mid-February could clarify his timeline for his return.
Porzingis was hurt Feb. 6 after landing on a dunk in a game against Milwaukee.
The Knicks are last in the Eastern Conference at 10-40.
The 7-foot-3 Porzingis 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 - they say he was in agreement with that decision - and now by trading him and Hardaway seem instead to be gearing up to pursue players in free agency, with nearly $70 million in cap space.
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 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.
However, Mills and Perry saw otherwise, noticing how often Porzingis was in the gym and how long he stayed when he did come.
He was there Thursday, and after a meeting the Knicks had their answers.
"We wanted a confirmation from him whether he was completely in or out," Mills said, "and he made it clear to us when he came in to meet with us that no longer wanted to be part of our group."
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 U.S. Olympian and top defensive center. The Knicks said they wanted to keep Jordan and Matthews, believing they could help their younger players.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.