Mac Engel

Cuban, Donnie and the Mavs just stole Dirk 2.0 from the New York Knicks

Dean Palermo left his TCU dorm room and went to the rec center specifically just to punch the punching bag after he heard the news that his beloved New York Knicks just traded away their franchise player.

As Palmero’s bare hands slammed into the punching bag, he screamed, “(Bleeping) Porzingis?!”

Actually, the name is Kristaps Porzingis but, in the case of New York Knick fans, it is “Bleeping Porzingis.”

Poor kid.

Palermo is a TCU sophomore from Long Island, N.Y. who was just reminded that good players would prefer to be a Maverick more than a Knick.

Kristaps Porzingis is a Dallas Maverick and his teammate will be Luka Doncic. That’s a team. It’s an incomplete team, and one that won’t make the playoffs this year, but these two young men will do some damage.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s grand plan to rebuild the team after they won the 2011 NBA title was a disaster until now. He and GM Donnie Nelson just pulled off the reversal of the Hershel Walker trade, or the equivalent of sending Robert Traylor to the Bucks for Dirk Nowitzki.

Or Trae Young to the Hawks for Doncic.

The Dallas Mavericks are now Eastern Europe’s favorite team, and have the whitest collection of basketball studs since the ‘80s Boston Celtics. Too bad Dirk Nowitzki is too old to enjoy this.

Doncic was never going to be the next Dirk, because their games are different. The guy who was going to be the next Dirk was Porzingis, and the Mavs just stole him from New York.

MAVS MOVE DENNIS SMITH JR. FOR PORZINGIS

That’s who Porzingis is; he is Dirk 2.0. Assuming he returns to full health.

Porzingis, 23, has been out for nearly a full year after he suffered a torn ACL. Reports on the knee have been encouraging, however, and he has been expected to return to the floor in February.

To acquire Porzingis, the Mavs sent DeAndre Jordan, guard Wes Matthews, and guard Dennis Smith Jr. to the Knicks. The Mavs also sent the Knicks two first round draft picks, which means the team will not have a selection in that round for what will feel like a decade.

The Mavs will also receive guard Trey Burke, and guards Courtney Lee and Tim Hardaway Jr. Burke may be a player whereas the other two are salary dumps.

As reported here last week, the Mavs were not going to re-sign Jordan, who will be a free agent after the season. They had been open to dealing Matthews since the day he signed as a free agent.

Dealing DSJ, who was a lottery pick in 2017, became the priority when it was apparent that Doncic was this team’s best point guard. DSJ struggles to play off the ball, and there have been some other issues on the floor between he and coach Rick Carlisle.

DSJ left the team for six games as the Mavs explored trade options, and only returned when the two sides tacitly agreed to showcase him before the trade deadline.

The plan worked. On Jan. 30 in New York against the Knicks in Madison Square Garden, DSJ scored 13 points with 15 assists and 10 rebounds in a Mavs’ blowout win.

One day later, Porzingis reportedly met with Knicks management to express his frustration with the team. He reportedly did the same thing in the summer of 2017, when I begged the Mavericks to trade for him as the answer to their problems.

Although Knicks fans booed when the team selected him with the fourth overall pick in the 2015 draft, he has developed into a Dirk type. A legit 7-foot-3, “Porzingod” averages 17.8 points and 7.1 rebounds in his career.

He was an All-Star selection last season and was averaging 22.7 points per game when he suffered his knee injury.

He was the Knicks’ future. Only he wants to win, so he wanted his future to be anywhere other than with the Knicks.

MOVIN’ UP MAVS

Even if Porzingis returns today, the Mavs are not making the playoffs as presently constructed. The team is 23-28, and they just traded away their best rebounder, and a decent NBA guard.

They will need a center, and a guard to play next to Doncic.

The trade was not about this season but the next several years. Putting Doncic next to Porzingod has the makings of the type of duo necessary to win an NBA title.

Cuban’s plan to rebuild the Mavs after their title never worked until the acquisition of Doncic.

They now can move forward without Dirk, because they just landed his replacement.

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Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience covering Fort Worth-Dallas area sports for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams as well as Olympic games and the world of entertainment, too. He combines dry wit with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.
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