Why the Kristaps Porzingis Trade Is a Massive Win for the Mavericks

The Knicks dealt Kristaps Porzingis to the Mavericks on Thursday in a move that could clear massive cap space for New York. But the deal is a major coup for the Mavericks who get to pair two of the NBA’s brightest young talents—Porzingis and Luka Doncic—on the same court.

On the latest Open Floor podcast, Andrew Sharp and The Washington Post’s Ben Golliver discuss the trade and why the Mavericks came as big winners.

(Listen to the latest Open Floor podcast here. The following transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.)


Ben Golliver: I think Dallas is the winner here. I really do.

Andrew Sharp: I agree.

Golliver: They have been floundering for years trying to find real talent. Some of the risks that they have taken have been pretty nonsensical and they have been second-guessed by you almost seconds after deals were done. To get a player who seems to fit pretty well with Luka in terms of on the court—they have potential to be a superstar level duo that can set the foundation here for a long time. They are pretty much aligned in age—Luka is 19 and Porzingis is 23. To kind of manufacture that out of a few expiring contracts and Dennis Smith Jr., who can’t play, that’s a homerun.

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Sharp: It’s a borderline miracle. Honestly, I just spent the last 15 minutes saying Porzingis is not that good. He’s good. He’s clearly good. But he’s not a top-10 level player, that’s not a foregone conclusion so everybody just chill. Luka though could be and I think if you are Dallas, we have talked about where the Mavs have been and where they seem to be headed and it didn’t look great. They didn’t have a lot of flexibility to add a second star and if Porzingis is instantly going to be your second best player and the guy that anchors your defense, hopefully Porzingis is cool with that role, suddenly the ceiling gets a lot more interesting. I think you are right to be skeptical on where they are like as early as next season, because if it is Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Harrison Barnes and Kristaps Porzingis I don’t know what you really have there...


Golliver: You know what you have? You have one of those depressing t-shirts when they put the five players names. Have you ever seen those? It’s like the famous lineups—that is a depressing version of that t-shirt for next year’s Mavericks.

Sharp: Laughs. Just keep it to two names. T-shirt makers of Dallas just keep it to Luka and Kristaps. Don’t worry about the rest of the story, that will all materialize in the 2020s. I’m with you.

Golliver: Here is kind of a hot take question for you. Is it possible that Kristaps—the most famous person in his country and Luka the most famous person in his country—Kristaps, the guy who clearly wants to be the alpha who kind of patterned himself after Carmelo Anthony growing up and Luka who clearly wants to be the alpha and has already surpassed Dennis Smith Jr. down there, and recasted the whole franchise in his own making: Is there any budding heads potential there? Will there be a European version of Kobe and Shaq? Whose franchise is it? Who gets to have their name introduced last? Whose jersey is more prominently sold? Or can they find the right balance and pitch them as this superstar duo going forward? What do you think?

Sharp: Well, it’s funny because I don’t think famous in their own countries really matter as much because Ike Diogu is the most famous player from Nigeria.

Golliver: Come on!

Sharp: All of these guys are famous. It’s different with Kristaps and Luka though. They are legitimately famous—not as much as LeBron—but they are compared to other superstars beyond Kyrie, KD and LeBron.

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Golliver: Kristaps had his own Latvian rap industry right?

Sharp: The entire world knows who these guys are.

Golliver: Luka is driving Ferraris and Lamborghinis at age 17 right? So these are big time stars with egos. It’s not a negative thing to admit that. These guys have egos.

Sharp: And that’s kind of what rubs me the wrong way. Ben Simmons is kind of the same story—where all right you are clearly really talented but haven’t accomplished that much in the NBA. I think they are going to be cool and if you are asking whose team it is, I think it’s going to be Dirk’s team until those guys ever win anything and then a couple years down the road, we will figure out who is kind of the alpha.

Golliver: I disagree. I think it is going to be Luka’s team.

Sharp: It should be Luka’s team.


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