Kristaps Porzingis is officially a member of the Dallas Mavericks, although he isn’t expected play for them until next season as he continues to rehab from a torn ACL.
The question for the Mavs is whether Porzingis is playing next year on the qualifying offer, with plans to be an unrestricted free agent in 2020, or on a freshly minted, 5-year, $158 million max contract with the Mavs. There was initially a report that he would be taking the QO, but in his introductory presser Mark Cuban made it clear the Mavs expected to get him signed and Porzingis indicated he was “on the same page” with Dallas in that regard.
Going back a step further, the lingering questions about Porzingis’ restricted free agency and his injury history played a role in his departure from New York. Everything around the rapidly changing nature of the day Porzingis was dealt raised eyebrows, as it was reported he had a meeting with the Knicks regarding the franchise’s future, then the Knicks were apparently convinced he wanted out, and finally he was traded all in the span of about an hour and a half.
That’s not typically how things work in the NBA and no one believed a blockbuster deal was struck in 90 minutes following one meeting. Marc Stein of the New York Times brought lots of details on Tuesday in his newsletter about how it all went down and it seems both sides have been telling partial truths.
Per Stein, the Knicks had been quietly probing the market to see what Porzingis could net them for the better part of a month. The Mavs themselves had shown interest for much longer than that, and the Knicks had had talks with Dallas about two other trades, involving Dennis Smith Jr. and a Tim Hardaway Jr. for Wesley Matthews swap, that allowed them to swiftly put together this package in a matter of an hour.
On the other hand, according to Stein, Kristaps’ brother and agent, Janis, did request a trade in their very brief meeting with the Knicks, in which he gave New York a list of four teams — including the Nets and Clippers — that Porzingis preferred, with Dallas not among them. There was also an indication the young star would leave the team to continue his rehab overseas after the deadline if a deal was not struck.
All of this is to say, it was as messy as anyone would expect and there was a steady deterioration of the relationship between Porzingis and the Knicks and not a sudden blowup in a meeting that led to a deal in 90 minutes. Now, the question is whether the Mavs are able to re-sign Porzingis and convince he, and Janis, that Dallas is the place for him alongside Luka Doncic.