When they traded Carmelo Anthony to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the New York Knicks decided to build the team around Kristaps Porzingis. The Latvian center’s promising performance in his first two seasons in the NBA made the Knicks decide to make him the new face of the franchise. Unfortunately, that didn’t last long.
Before the February NBA trade deadline, Kristaps Porzingis met with the Knicks to discuss the direction the team was headed. The meeting concluded with Porzingis expressing his desire to be traded somewhere else. The Knicks ended up trading Porzingis, together with Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke, and Courtney Lee, to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews, DeAndre Jordan, and two future first-round picks.
Most people are disappointed with how things turned out between Kristaps Porzingis and the Knicks, but Coach David Fizdale said in an interview with Marc Berman of the New York Post that everything that happened was part of their “plan.”
“We have a plan,” Fizdale said. “If I would’ve come into this thing thinking one thing and now all of a sudden it’s this? But no, I came into it expecting the worst. And preparing myself for the absolute worst. So now we’re at a place where we did, by moving Kristaps, that made us younger. That made us a little more unseasoned. But at the same time, that’s still sticking to what we said we were going to do. Really develop, build through the draft, open up cap space. That’s where we are right now and I’m really happy that we’ve stuck to the plan.”
The Knicks didn’t actually stick with the plan. They just tried to get the best out of the situation after Kristaps Porzingis demanded a trade. The trade package the Knicks got from the Mavericks isn’t bad at all. In exchange for the disgruntled superstar, the Knicks acquired a young and promising talent in Dennis Smith Jr. and future draft assets that they could use as trade chips if they are planning to engage in another blockbuster deal next summer.
By sending Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee to Dallas, the Knicks have created enough salary cap space to chase the likes of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker, and Jimmy Butler in the 2019 NBA free agency. If they finish the 2018-19 NBA season with the worst record in the league, the Knicks have a strong chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick the 2019 NBA Draft where they could select Duke Blue Devils forward Zion Williamson.