Kristaps Porzingis made headlines when he demanded a trade from the New York Knicks before the February NBA trade deadline. After meeting with the Knicks to discuss the direction that they were planning to take, Porzingis realized that he no longer wanted to be part of the team’s long-term future. The Knicks ended up sending Porzingis, together with Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee, and Trey Burke, to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, and two future first-round picks.
If the Knicks only knew that this would happen, they might have let former team president Phil Jackson trade Kristaps Porzingis during the 2017 NBA offseason. When Jackson attempted to make Porzingis available on the trading block, Marc Berman of the New York Post revealed that the Knicks received interesting trade offers from the Boston Celtics and the Phoenix Suns.
In the potential deal with the Suns, the Knicks could have gotten Devin Booker and a higher draft pick that they could have used to select Lauri Markkanen in the 2017 NBA Draft.
“Twenty months ago, the Celtics offered a boatload of young assets, and the Suns were prepared to ship Devin Booker and swap a draft pick that would have placed the Knicks in position to draft Lauri Markkanen. Former team president Phil Jackson thought the Finnish big man was built sturdier than Porzingis and would become more durable.”
Porzingis was 'prepared' to leave US if Knicks didn't trade him https://t.co/MdzTvPre7T— MSN Sports (@MSNSports) February 5, 2019
The Suns’ trade offer for Kristaps Porzingis is undeniably better than what the Knicks recently received from the Mavericks. The tandem of Devin Booker and Lauri Markkanen could have helped the Knicks speed up the rebuilding process and end their playoff drought. However, instead of following Phil Jackson’s plan, the Knicks decided to fire him and replace him with Steve Mills.
Despite losing Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks remain confident that they are heading into the right direction. In their recent deal with the Mavericks, the Knicks acquired a potential candidate to become the next face of the franchise in Dennis Smith Jr. and two future first-round picks that they could use to add young and promising talents on their roster. The Knicks could also use those picks as trade chips if they ever decide to engage in another blockbuster deal next summer.
After dumping the large contracts of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee on Dallas, the Knicks will have enough salary cap flexibility to chase two max free agents in the summer of 2019. In the past months, the Knicks have already been linked to several NBA superstars, including Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics and Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors.