In more bad news for fans of the New York Knicks, their best known current player is reportedly being traded.
According to ESPN‘s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Knicks are finalizing a trade that would send center Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks. The report follows an article earlier in the day, also by Wojnarowski, claiming that the player had recently met with Knicks management and expressed his dissatisfaction with the team — and that the Knicks left the meeting under the impression that Porzingis wanted to be traded.
A later Twitter post made by Woj reported that the trade included Porzingis, Courtney Lee, and Tim Hardaway Jr. going to Dallas — with Wesley Matthews, Dennis Smith Jr., and DeAndre Jordan coming to New York. Lee and Hardaway have long-term deals that New York is taking off of the books, while Jordan and Matthews have expiring contracts. “Draft assets” may be included as well, the reporter said.
Marc Stein of the New York Times reported similar trade parameters.
In addition to moving on from their erstwhile franchise player, the deal is seen as a way for the Knicks to dump contracts and to clear salary cap room in order to pursue free agents this summer. This summer, a long list of top players that include Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Jimmy Butler are scheduled to hit free agency. The deal, per ESPN‘s Bobby Marks, would leave the Knicks with as much as $74.6 million in cap space this summer.
Porzingis, who has been out with an ACL injury for the entire season, is eligible for restricted free agency this offseason. This means that he can sign with another team, but his current team will have the right to match the offer — after the Knicks declined to sign him to a long-term extension. Porzingis is still only 23 years old.
Selected by the Knicks as the 4th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Porzingis looked like a star player for his first two years in the league. However, he eventually clashed with former general manager Phil Jackson, who reportedly wanted to trade the player prior to his firing.
Knicks fans appear unhappy with the news of the deal, and are expressing as much via social media.
The trade, once it’s final, will mean that of the top five players picked in the 2015 draft, only the first overall pick — the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns — remains with his original team.