It all unfolded in a matter of a couple of hours, at least as far as everyone could tell from the outside. First word arrived midafternoon that Porzingis, who has been out this season while recovering from a torn knee ligament, had told Knicks management that he was unhappy with the direction of the team, which at 10-40 has the worst record in the NBA.
Then — bam! — he was outta there, dealt along with some onerous contracts for, well, not a lot. Or to put it another way, Porzingis was dealt for a lot of maybe, specifically the salary-cap space to potentially sign two superstar-level free agents this summer should such a pair of players actually decide to come to New York.
By early evening, the Knicks were formally announcing the trade: Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and two future first-round picks. At that point, the specifics of the deal had already been reported, and New York’s Emmanuel Mudiay had been moved to tweet, then delete, posts that said, “That’s the NBA” while proclaiming he had “nothin but love” for his “brothas,” naming Porzingis, Hardaway and Lee.
For whatever reason, at least of this writing, Mudiay kept up a post expressing his sudden realization that Burke was also sent to Dallas. Meanwhile, teammate Kevin Knox was going with a time-honored GIF of a speechless Will Smith in “Fresh Prince” mode.
Perhaps the least surprising aspect of Thursday’s developments was that the Knicks’ Enes Kanter saw fit to weigh in. The Turkish big man, who has experienced his own major issues this season with team management due to dwindling minutes, is a frequent presence on social media. He responded to the news with a slew of emoji, the first of which proclaimed his love for a “unicorn,” i.e., Porzingis.
The Knicks players who remained with New York — for the time being, anyway — were hardly alone in reacting to news of the trade. The Pacers’ Myles Turner, a Texas native, also used a unicorn emoji while tweeting his excitement that Porzingis was heading to Dallas, saying, “I’m here for it!”
A pair of former NBA players offered wry takes on the deal. Sheldon Mac tweeted, “Quickest deal of all time lol damn,” while Jordan Crawford mocked the Knicks, tweeting, “That’s all you got for Porzingis??? Hold up man,” and adding a face-palm emoji.
Several members of the Lakers, who are rumored to be trying to send much of their young talent to the Pelicans in exchange for Anthony Davis, also chimed in. “Wow,” tweeted Kyle Kuzma, with teammate Josh Hart saying, “Oh my.”
“As is standard for this time of year, we were exploring various options on potential trades,” Knicks general manager 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."
Perry may be confident the Knicks will emerge from the trade in an improved state, but not everyone else was so sure. Much will be decided by how the team fares in free agencyand the draft lottery, but in the meantime, a prominent member of a division rival was happy to share his amusement at the news.