It's hard to overstate what the Dallas Mavericks pulled off Thursday afternoon. In exchange for disgruntled point guard Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews and DeAndre Jordan and two future first-round draft picks, the Mavs acquired forward Kristaps Porzingis, Courtney Lee, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke from the New York Knicks.
Porzingis, the 7-foot-3-inch Latvian prodigy, is the whole thing when it comes to the deal. He's still recovering from a February 2018 ACL tear, but when he comes back, the Mavericks will have a pair of bona fide European superstars in their starting five. With his outstanding interior defense and versatile offensive game, Porzingis is the type of player around which championship squads can be built.
Throw in Luka Doncic, the Mavs' small forward and odds-on rookie of the year favorite, and Dallas has the type of young core that can attract top-tier free-agent talent and finally return the team to the NBA's upper echelon.
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There is one caveat to all the good news. To capitalize on pulling off the rarest of all NBA trades — the Mavs traded three quarters for a paper dollar here, at least — the team must sign its new superstar to a long-term contract. Porzingis, the fourth overall pick by the Knicks in the 2015 draft, is still on his rookie contract. This offseason, he'll have the choice of signing a one-year qualifying offer from the Mavericks, ensuring his free agency after the 2019-20 season, or agreeing to take a boat-load of guaranteed money to stay in Dallas.
While NBA reporters like ESPN guru Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday that Porzingis was keeping his options open, it's hard to imagine Doncic and elder statesman Dirk Nowitzki not having some influence on Porzingis' decision.
Kristaps Porzingis, who can become a restricted free agent this summer, has yet to make a decision on his future with Dallas, league sources tell ESPN. He expects to start the process of getting to know the organization soon. Porzingis will continue to rehab his ACL injury.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 31, 2019
Contract concerns aside, the countdown to Porzingis, 23, and Doncic, 19, making their first appearance on the court together is on.