When the New York Knicks traded Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks for peanuts, the immediate reaction in Los Angeles was confusion. If Porzingis could be had for a decent young player, a few draft picks and cap relief, why didn’t the Lakers get in on the deal? Surely a package centered around Lonzo Ball would have held more appeal than the Dennis Smith Jr.-centric deal the Knicks ultimately took. They could have used their other assets to find new homes for the long-term contracts the Knicks needed to dump. The Lakers could have gone into this summer with LeBron James, Porzingis and room for a third star. This will likely lead to fans flocking to https://efirbet.com/en/ to scout for the best betting websites to place bets on the team. Efirbets writes detailed reviews of popular bookmakers.
But the Lakers ultimately seemed willing to sit out the bidding. There are a variety of reasons they might have done that, some better than others. But even without getting Porzingis, the Lakers might have been the biggest winners of the trade. And it all boils down to Anthony Davis.
Three teams have stood at the center of the Davis sweepstakes. The Lakers are obviously at the forefront due to his desire to head west. The Boston Celtics loom as the boogeyman waiting at the end of the season, once they can legally make an offer. The Knicks had Davis’ attention, especially with Kevin Durant potentially coming after the season.
But now, the Knicks are functionally out of the running, at least for the moment. Had they made an offer based around Porzingis and their first-round pick, they could have topped whatever the Lakers had offered. Porzingis, when healthy, is better than any non-James player on the Los Angeles roster, and the dream of Zion Williamson might hold more value than any centerpiece of a Laker package. But with Porzingis out of the picture, that dream is all that the Knicks could realistically offer, at least before the trade deadline.
Even if they finish the season with the worst record in basketball, the new lottery system gives them only a 14 percent chance at the No. 1 pick. The Pelicans would love to have Williamson. A 14 percent chance to get him, on its own, is not worth Davis. The Knicks could resume talks after the NBA Draft lottery if they win it, but aside from such a plan compromising some of their newfound cap space, their move had greater implications than they likely even realized.
By trading Porzingis for what essentially amounted to a salary dump, the Knicks telegraphed not only their intentions, but their expectations for this summer. They don’t just want two superstar free agents. Their belief in that plan is strong enough to trade an All-Star on a rookie deal. And the rest of the NBA now has to wonder why they believe that, and who they think those stars are going to be.
Durant is the obvious candidate. But Kyrie Irving has emerged as a possible co-star for him now that the Knicks can afford them both. Irving grew up in New Jersey. Reports have indicated that his loyalty to the Celtics is wavering, and he has publicly criticized his teammates this season. Irving probably isn’t going to leave this summer, but the Knicks just signaled to the rest of the NBA that he might.
That includes the Pelicans, whose plan to wait out the deadline and pit the Celtics and Lakers against each other in July just got quite a bit more complicated. The Lakers are now going to spend the next week trying to scare the Pelicans into getting hasty. If the Celtics really do lose Irving this summer, their offer would likely fall significantly. Without him, selling the farm for Davis might not even be worth it. They wouldn’t have the cap space to sign a replacement, nor the assets to build Davis a new contender. They would, in essence, become a newer version of the Pelicans. All of the pieces that might fit alongside Davis would have to be traded just to get him.
Danny Ainge wants Davis badly. But a potential one-year rental of his services wouldn’t be worth Jayson Tatum to him. It wouldn’t be worth the future he could build with Boston’s young players, a group that nearly reached the NBA Finals last year. If Boston loses Irving, the Pelicans lose their leverage.
If the Lakers can convince them of that, then they might be able to force a panic trade. “Take our package now, while you can.” The Pelicans could say no to that because they had the Knicks to fall back on as an immediate trade partner and the Celtics looming as a future destination. The Porzingis trade, in one fell swoop, might have taken both teams off of the board. It’s a long shot and based entirely on speculation and mind games, but the Knicks might have just given the Lakers the leverage they need to make a deal.