Days before the 2019 February NBA trade deadline, the New York Knicks surprised everyone in the league when they traded the face of their franchise, Kristaps Porzingis, to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for DeAndre Jordan, Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews, and future draft picks. The Porzingis-to-Mavericks blockbuster deal left most NBA fans in a state of shock, but according to Marc Berman of the New York Post, the Knicks had explored trading the Latvian center before the 2017 NBA Draft.
Berman revealed that the Knicks engaged in a trade deal involving Porzingis with the Boston Celtics. The Celtics reportedly offered a package including Jaylen Brown and a first-round pick that the Knicks could have used to select Lauri Markannen, but then-team president Phil Jackson rejected the deal.
“The Celtics offered a trove of assets, including Jaylen Brown, in a scenario under which the Knicks could move up and select future Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen, but again Jackson held back. Some in the league believe Jackson didn’t make the trade on orders from owner James Dolan. Who would’ve thought then it would turn into one of Jackson’s and Dolan’s worst miscalculations?”
Had the deal taken place, it would have been a franchise-altering move for both the Celtics and the Knicks. Having a healthy Porzingis join the Celtics’ core of Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, and Marcus Smart would have made them the best NBA team in the Eastern Conference and one of the top favorites to win the NBA championship title in the 2017-18 NBA season.
Meanwhile, for the Knicks, the trade package including Brown and Markannen was undeniably better than what they got from the Mavericks. The two players have both shown huge superstar potential from the time they set foot in the NBA and are currently two of the fastest rising superstars in the league.
The trade assets that the Knicks received from the Mavericks weren’t bad overall, however. As a matter of fact, the Knicks got almost everything they wanted by trading Porzingis to the Mavericks, including salary cap relief, a young player in Smith Jr., and future draft picks.
Unfortunately, the Knicks still haven’t found a way to maximize those assets. Despite entering the 2019 NBA offseason with two maximum salary cap spaces and a plethora of interesting trade chips, the Knicks still failed to acquire their top targets on the trade and free agency markets. Anthony Davis ended up being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, while Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant chose the other team situated in New York, the Brooklyn Nets, in the 2019 NBA free agency.