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NBA Trade Reaction: How The Kristaps Porzingis Deal To Dallas Affects The Fantasy World


The Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks got together and worked out a blockbuster deal that centered around youngsters Kriztaps Porzingis and Dennis Smith Jr. on Jan. 31. While an official winner won't be declared for a few years, the deal looks to be beneficial for both teams at first glance.

Porzingis will head from "The Big Apple" to "Big D" along with Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke, and Courtney Lee. Meanwhile, the Knicks received DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, and two future first draft picks (2021 and 2023). It is possible the draft picks actually won't be conveyed to New York until 2022 and 2024, depending on whether or not the Hawks receive the Mavs' 2019 pick that they are owed as part of the Trae Young trade.

There are many questions to decipher in evaluating this trade. The first question: why would two teams that have struggled the last few years already be willing to give up on two recent high draft picks? The simple explanation is that both of the major players in the deal wanted out of their situations and both teams were likely to make major roster changes this upcoming offseason anyways. The key to the trade may ultimately end up being whether the Knicks can come up with a star free agent acquisition or have both the draft picks turn out to be lottery selections. The Mavs win the deal if Porzingis becomes the star that everyone thinks he can be.

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Trade Impact: The Mavericks

The big question for this year, and really for the future, is how strong is Porzingis' knee. The 23-year-old has been out since tearing the ACL in his left knee on February 6th of last year, and there is a strong possibility that he does not play at all this season. Plus, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski has reported that Porzingiz has not yet committed to the franchise long-term, meaning that is possible that he accepts the Mavs' qualifying offer this summer and becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2020.

With Smith now gone, Luka Doncic will once again likely see more time at point guard. Doncic, who missed his second game of the season on Thursday due to an ankle injury, is the franchise's all-world rookie. The 19-year-old has spent most of his time on the court this season at shooting guard, although he has also spent time at point guard (12 percent) and small forward (six percent). Regardless of his position, he will have the ball in his hand as much as possible. Doncic leads all rookies with 20.4 points a game and is second with 5.4 assists.

If Doncic does move over to start at point guard, it will essentially make Jalen Brunson and Devin Harris irrelevant in fantasy basketball once again as Burke will become the main backup. Not that either Brunson or Harris had much value anyways, though both had their moments this year with all the injuries that the Mavericks have suffered.

Burke will likely fill the role that the injured J.J. Barea did, meaning Burke will be counted to bring instant offense off the bench while also being the primary playmaker when he is in the lineup with Doncic. Burke is an electric scorer when he is hitting shots and is a better shooter than Barea. The 26-year-old was having a fantastic season off the bench while also earning occasional spot starts for the Knicks, averaging 11.8 points, and 2.8 assists over 20 minutes in 33 appearances. He produced one double-double and scored in double-figures 19 times, which includes topping 20 points on four occasions. Burke will be an unrestricted free agent this year.

Hardaway will step in immediately at shooting guard and is an upgrade over Matthews despite struggling most of this season shooting the ball. Hardaway is averaging career-highs in points (19.7) and three-pointers (2.5) while tying his season-best mark in assists (2.7).  The 26-year-old has topped the 20-point mark on 25 occasions this year, which includes topping the 30-point mark six times. He should be able to improve his shooting percentage with the Mavericks as they have more offensive weapons than the Knicks, so the floor should be better spaced which will allow him to create better shots for himself.

Lee's role is a little bit of an unknown.  The 33-year-old hasn't played much this season, but he is a "3-and-D" guy so he could find a spot at the end of the Mavericks rotation. It is possible that he and Dorian Finney-Smith will share time as the main backup at shooting guard and small forward. So, don't expect him to see more than 10-to-15 minutes for the time being.

Harrison Barnes, who has been very good this year, could see a drop in offensive production with the additions to the team. However, his rebounding numbers could get a little boost without having Jordan beside him, controlling the boards. Dwight Powell, Maximilian Kleber, and Salah Mejri could see a bump in playing time with Jordan gone. Fantasy owners should wait to see how things play out before running to the waiver wire to grab any of those three players.

 

The Knicks

The trade for New York was all about the future. According to ESPN's Ian Begley, the Knicks will have more than $70 million in cap space this upcoming offseason. But how successful the Knicks will or can be luring one or two key free agents will be discussed ad nauseam, later on, I'm sure.

For now, Smith is the point guard of the present and future for a franchise that is desperate for a star. While the 21-year-old isn't a star, he is an electrifying athlete who can deliver big performances. He posted his second career triple-double against the Knicks on Wednesday as he compiled 13 points and 10 rebounds along with a career-best 15 dimes. The second-year player, who had gotten off to a strong start to the season, has played well over his last four appearances. Smith will have all the opportunity to show what he is capable of doing the rest of the season as he and Kevin Knox will be counted on heavily.

Although there was some talk that the Knicks would buy out both Matthews and Jordan, that doesn't seem to be the case now. Regardless, neither player is in the team's future plan and both players are unrestricted free agents at the end of the season.

It will be interesting how much the Knicks will play Matthews. With the team really not interested in winning, it would behoove them to give most of the playing time to Allonzo Trier and Damyean Dotson at the two. Both Trier and Dotson have shown flashes of their potential this season, but they are limited. Trier has a little more upside than Dotson, although both are serviceable fantasy players if they receive starter minutes. Emmanuel Mudiay is currently sidelined with a shoulder injury and is expected to be out at least another week. Mudiay could play alongside Smith when he does return.

Matthews really does not provide much more than scoring and three-point shooting. So, if he is not the starter, fantasy owners can drop him.

Jordan can be effective with the Knicks and provide New York what he did for Dallas, which was rebounding and rim protection. His arrival pretty much means the end of Enes Kanter's tenure with the Knicks as Mitchell Robinson will likely be the primary backup and second-year pro Luke Kornet possibly also seeing some time.

Frank Ntilikina also appears to be a loser in the trade. Ntilikina is currently dealing with a groin injury and is out for at least another week.

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