The New York Knicks recently traded Kristaps Porzingis, Courtney Lee, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Trey Burke to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr, Deandre Jordan, Wesley Johnson, and two future first-round draft picks. As a result, the Knicks cleared considerable amount of room in their salary cap for two high-profile max contracts in the upcoming offseason.
While the Mavericks made out like bandits in this trade, Dennis Smith Jr., the player the Knicks originally passed on in the 2017 draft, is arguably their biggest gain. He is an incredible athlete with an NBA-record vertical leap of forty-eight inches who had an outstanding freshman season at North Carolina State and a very respectable NBA rookie year. Even though he has experienced a slight dip in production and efficiency this season, that could either be the result of sharing a court with rookie sensation Luka Doncic or the fact that he is enduring the typical sophomore slump after a solid rookie season. No one doubts his on-court ability, but the question on everyone’s mind is certainly whether he can make magic happen with an organization as dysfunctional as the Knicks.
The Mavericks having a superstar like Porzingis could potentially change the franchise’s trajectory, building as they undoubtedly will through the dynamic duo of Doncic and Porzingis. The Knicks, on the other hand, need to take the necessary steps to stay competitive. Inside sources say the Knicks are confident they can sign Kevin Durant in free agency if he decides to leave the Golden State Warriors. In addition to Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, and Kemba Walker are also set to become free agents. If the Knicks want to become championship contenders, then they need to acquire two of these top free agents and without hesitation sign them to maximum contracts. If the Knicks are able to pull this off, their next priority would have to be developing their young talent so they can build a bench rotation that complements Kevin Knox, Dennis Smith Jr, and the other top free agent signings. What happens next is entirely up to general manager Scott Perry’s ability to seek out the next stars of New York.
The fate of the Knicks depends on it.