Knicks unload Porzingis, Hardaway, Lee and Burke to Dallas to clear cap space for two max free agents | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Sunday / December 8.
  • Knicks unload Porzingis, Hardaway, Lee and Burke to Dallas to clear cap space for two max free agents

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    By agreeing to deal Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr.Courtney Lee and Trey Burke to the Dallas Mavericks the rebuilding Knicks will now have room for two max-free agents in the summer of 2019.

    The Knicks will take back Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews, plus two future first-round picks, according to the team. The picks will come in 2021 and ’23, Michael Scotto of The Athletic reported. The ’21 pick is unprotected and the ’23 pick is protected.

    ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke the trade news. Any of those new players would need to be waived by March 1 to become playoff eligible.

    The Knicks can now dream of adding Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in free agency, and potentially Duke’s Zion Williamson in the NBA Draft, during the summer of 2019. ESPN’s Bobby Marks reported the Knicks now could have $74.6 million in cap space this summer, enough for two max free agents.

    “As is standard for this time of year, we were exploring various options on potential trades,” Knicks GM Scott Perry said in a statement.  “Considering the uncertainty regarding Kristaps’ free agent status and his request today to be traded, we made a trade that we are confident improves the franchise.  We thank Kristaps, Tim, Courtney and Trey for their contributions and wish them all the best.”

    It remains unclear if Porzingis, the No. 4 pick in 2015, will sign an extension with Dallas. He becomes a restricted free agent this summer and hasn’t played in about  a year after tearing his ACL.

    The Knicks pitch this summer will now involve trying to get not one, but two big-time stars like Durant and Irving to want to come to New York to try to build a winner.

    Irving is a Montclair, N.J., native who previously told Celtics fans he planned to re-sign in Boston. He maintains close ties in the area, including funding his alma mater, The Patrick School in Hillside, N.J., and recently launching the inaugural Kyrie Irving Invitational at Barclays Center.

    Irving and the Celtics visit the Knicks Friday night.

    Durant will be the biggest prize this summer. He is playing on a two-year, $61.5 million contract and is expected to opt out.

    “Everyone says Knicks,” one prominent NBA player agent told Frank Isola of The Athletic.

    Still, the Warriors are the only team that can offer Durant a five-year max contract, so he can make up to $30 million more by remaining with the Warriors than he could by coming to New York or anywhere else.

    “I just want to make sure I get as much money as I can on my next deal,” Durant told Chris Haynes.

    As for Smith Jr., the Knicks famously skipped him in the 2017 NBA Draft and picked Frank Ntilikina instead.

    During the Adidas trial in September, former Adidas consultant TJ Gassnola testifed he paid $40,000 in cash to then-N.C. State assistant coach Orlando Early with the understanding the money would go to Smith Jr.’s family so that he would remain at N.C. State.

    The Knicks will still maintain their young assets in Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson and Allonzo Trier.

    At 10-40, the Knicks own the NBA’s worst record and currently have a 14 percent chance at the No. 1 pick, widely expected to be Duke’s Williamson.

    Photo: AP

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.