The 2018-19 NBA season trade deadline looms, ending next week, putting the league and its followers at their noisiest time of the year as more pressure on teams that like to sell their assets and the buyers that are interested to acquire them.
Ironically, the first major trade that fell through last Friday morning, Philippine time was of the below the radar type, the one that nobody expects until the actual deal was done: the New York Knicks is sending Kristaps Porzingis, Courtney Lee, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and two future first-round draft picks.
Meanwhile, the most talked tradable asset in town is still with his original team as Anthony Davis has made known of his intention not to resign with the team that drafted him and that the Pelicans don’t have too many reasons to trade their elite big man out of New Orleans.
Is there more than just getting something back for Porzingis?
Finally, the Knicks are up to something. The haul they just got for their one of a kind big man, though he is coming from an ACL injury, is not too shabby at all. On paper, Smith and Jordan plus the two future draft picks are in the range of what one would realistically take for Porzingis.
But the real reason is one that is not measured by the physical returns and the draft picks. It’s the cap space created for free agency after this season that gives them a lot of other options to choose from which includes the enabling of New York to compete with other teams in signing big money free agents.
It should not pass any NBA fan that some elite players who want out of their original teams and free agents in recent memory have been linked with the Knicks.
Some of them again are entering free agency again after this season: Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, etc.
The Knicks may have lost what could be the next Dirk Nowitzki of the NBA, maybe even a better version, but they now leave rebuilding mode and enter “win-now” mode as they can now compete for the services of some of these bigtime free agents, at the same time acquired good complementary pieces in Smith and Jordan.
Meanwhile, they also did their franchise some goodwill by doing no disservice to their former prized rookie in sending Porzingis to the team that has a legacy of drafting and retaining the best foreign player ever in the NBA.
It is a big gamble by New York because this move may eventually blow up in their face as the success in winning more games is predicated on who will be the free agents they can acquire during the offseason.
Nevertheless, Knick fans must have been jumping with joy upon seeing this brilliant move by the team with regard to the thirst to put up a competitive product on the floor.
Is it Lakers or bust for AD?
The act of Davis, through his agent, of making known public his informing the team of his intention not to resign with them did not sit well with the league as it slap him with a $50,000 fine due to tampering.
But it also gave the Pelicans a heads-up on what he really has in mind: It’s not really about leaving New Orleans, rather it’s about going to the Lakers.
The writing on the wall seems to be pointing this way: he dumped his former agent to sign with Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, the same agent of Lebron James, and announcing his “threat” of leaving the Pelicans in the near future. (Added teaser: Is Kyrie Irving’s apology to Lebron James related to this story?)
Unfortunately, the demand to go to LA was way ahead of its time and the Lakers are not in a position to offer the best return for the Pelicans.
Davis has one more year left in his contract and is set to become a free agent in 2020, allowing New Orleans in no rush to give away their prized bigman and could wait in order to select the best option that could give the team the best return.
This also allows the Boston Celtics, who has the capability to field the most competitive of all offers but is currently prohibited from trading for Davis unless the package includes Irving, to participate in the bidding war for his services in the off season.
The Lakers, and Rich Paul, know the chances of them landing Davis will become slimmer if they couldn’t do it within the coming week.
Reports coming out as of this writing points out that they are offering everybody except James to the Pelicans although last season’s second draft pick Lonzo Ball is complicating matters by also announcing publicly that he doesn’t want to go to New Orleans and prefers some other teams including the Knicks.
The clock is ticking and the suspense just got bigger.
By: ARMANDO M. BOLISLIS