The Celtics and New York Knicks were considered to be the Lakers’ main competitors for Davis, but the Knicks moved on last week from the idea of acquiring Davis. They traded Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday to clear the salary-cap space to pursue free agents in the summer.
This idea couldn’t be further from the truth.
Yes, the Pelicans turned down an offer which included Porzingis from the Knicks; however, there was very good reason for that — Kristaps, who is set to become a restricted free agent on July 1, had no interest in signing a contract in New Orleans during this upcoming summer. Meanwhile, New York was ready to move on from their somewhat disgruntled star coming off a major injury if they could improve their outlook at the drop of a hat and put themselves in play for a superstar. Did anyone catch that as soon as Davis announced his trade request, suddenly Porzingis was put on the table and sold in the matter of hours?
Once the Pelicans said no to all Porzingis deals, the Knicks knew they had to get something more appealing for Kristaps in order to try again with New Orleans. That’s why they didn’t bother calling every team in the league about Kristaps — the Knicks desperately wanted to add valuable future assets as well as create enough cap space for two max contracts. They accomplished both, and in fine fashion.
The Knicks could be staring at $74.6M in projected cap space for next season. That would be good enough for 2 max slots.— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) January 31, 2019
From the trade with Dallas, New York netted Dennis Smith Jr. and two Maverick future first round draft picks (2021, 2023 - protected 1-10).
Although many on Twitter decried the Knicks for not getting enough of a return for Porzingis, I would beg to differ. With Porzingis and an ugly salary cap sheet, the future didn’t look all that inviting. Plus, they now appear to be confident that at least one of Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving will wind up in New York, and why wouldn’t they? Both players have been non-committal about their futures, but more importantly, each has been tied to the Knicks franchise previously — and I think those who work inside the front office of Madison Square Garden have a really good feeling about one of these two names agreeing to put on a uniform next season.
However, as to where many think both Kyrie and KD are the main targets and could wind up together in New York, I believe the plan is for just one of them to arrive via the upcoming free agency period. But to really nail the free agent signing down and bring it home, GM Scott Perry will have to trade for Anthony Davis first, who has reportedly made the Knicks one of his preferred destinations, or at least have the word of the Pelicans that they will trade him to New York sometime after the 2019 Free Agency period begins.
If the Knicks land the first overall pick in the upcoming draft lottery, you have to think Zion Williamson makes a deal with New Orleans an iron-clad guarantee. New York would likely be able to build the most enticing trade package this summer and the Pelicans would jump at the opportunity to shake hands. However, if say the Knicks land the second or third pick of the draft (R.J. Barrett, Ja Morant, Cam Reddish), then you best believe New Orleans is going to ask for more value added to any trade package. That’s when Smith Jr. and the Mavericks two first rounders come in and can be combined with Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina, Mitchell Robinson and other future New York draft picks.
As for why the Knicks would be eager to deal away Zion or any other enviable young names? New York is destined to miss the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season and they’ve reached the postseason just four times since the 2000-01 campaign. Staying patient and building around Porzingis has not worked out, so you know James Dolan has been itching to deviate from New York’s current path pronto — and we just saw the first giant domino drop. If the Knicks think they’ve got a realistic chance to land two stars, you better believe they’re swinging for the fences.
But sure, Los Angeles, just conveniently ignore deductive reasoning so that nothing gets in the way of maintaining Rich Paul’s agenda of somehow, someway of finding a way to force Anthony Davis to the Lakers.