Shortly before the February trade deadline, the New York Knicks made a big roster move by trading star forward Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks. In exchange, the Knicks received second-year point guard Dennis Smith Jr. and veteran center DeAndre Jordan. However, a new report suggests that the Knicks came close to sending the Latvian big man to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for their own young point guard, De’Aaron Fox, shortly before the 2018 NBA Draft last June.
In a report published Tuesday, ESPN‘s Zach Lowe mostly focused on Fox, whom he described as a player who is “speeding up the Kings’ timeline” in only his second year in the NBA. As Lowe recalled, Fox had his share of struggles in his rookie year, and in the lead-up to last year’s rookie draft, the Kings, who were picking No. 2, were mulling over the prospect of drafting Luka Doncic and rebuilding the team around the Slovenian forward/guard.
“Rivals sensed the dilemma and made offers for Fox — including a template from the New York Knicks centered around Kristaps Porzingis that would have required Sacramento to either send something beyond Fox or take unwanted Knicks salary (or both),” Lowe wrote, citing sources familiar with the supposed discussions.
While the Kings still had an opportunity to trade down for Doncic, the team ultimately decided on staying at No. 2 and using their selection on Duke forward Marvin Bagley III. According to Lowe, Bagley’s selection “doubled as a vote of confidence” for Fox, as it showed that Sacramento didn’t need a second skilled ball-handler, but rather an athletic big man who could effectively run the floor.
— SLAM (@SLAMonline) March 24, 2019
As noted by Bleacher Report, the Sacramento Kings have been better for passing up a chance to acquire Kristaps Porzingis and deciding to hang on to De’Aaron Fox. After a rookie season where he averaged 11.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 4.4 assists — and shot only 41.2 percent from the field — Fox’s numbers have improved substantially. He has produced 17.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 7.2 assists, and 1.7 steals per game while shooting at a 45.7 percent clip, helping the Kings surpass expectations with a 36-37 record as of this writing.
Meanwhile, Bleacher Report also pointed out that Porzingis will be teaming up with Doncic in the 2019-20 NBA season, as they hope to help the Dallas Mavericks end a three-year playoff drought. Per CBS Sports, there were rumors earlier this season that suggested the 7-foot-3-inch power forward could be close to making a return, though the outlet added that the Mavericks decided to officially rule him out for the rest of 2018-19 as the team “[has] no reason” to rush him back. With a 29-44 win-loss record, Dallas currently sits at 14th, or second-to-last place, in the Western Conference.