The Knicks have agreed to a trade that will send Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke to the Mavericks, the team announced on Thursday.
In return, the Knicks will receive Dennis Smith Jr., two future first-round picks, and the expiring contracts of DeAndre Jordan and Wes Matthews.
In an official statement released by the Knicks, GM Scott Perry confirmed that Porzingis did indeed request a trade, and the team granted his wish.
"As is standard for this time of year, we were exploring various options on potential trades," Perry said. "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."
Porzingis and his brother, Janis, met with team management on Thursday and "expressed concern" with the losing, the overall direction of the franchise, and more, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, who said Porzingis also expressed doubt that the Knicks were developing a culture that would "enable sustainable organizational success."
Dealing Porzingis gives the Knicks -- who will now have $74.5 million in cap space -- the ability to sign two max free agents this summer, when Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, and others are expected to be available.
The Knicks had put off extending Porzingis -- in part to keep extra room under the cap so they can target external free agents this summer -- but Porzingis was still in line for a huge payday after the season.
Now that he has been dealt, Porzingis is expected to accept the one-year qualiftying offer after the season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
As outlined by Tommy Beer, if the Knicks had held on to Porzingis, he would have been able to either accept a one-year qualifying offer for $4.5 million for 2019-20 with zero guaranteed money after the season or sign a five-year extension worth $158 million.
In other words, Porzingis had close to zero power. The Knicks traded him anyway.
As Porzingis was rehabbing his surgically repaired ACL, his name had already been the subject of trade rumors before Thursday as the Knicks prepared a pursuit of Pelicans star Anthony Davis.
However, because Porzingis has not yet proven to be healthy, the Knicks would have been "unlikely" to include him in any trade package for Davis before the deadline, according to Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe. That would mean any package with Porzingis in it would have needed to be a sign-and-trade after the season -- something Porzingis (who will be a restricted free agent) would have been "reluctant" to agree to.
In full tank-mode as new head coach David Fizdale worries about development of the young players over wins and losses, the Knicks have lost 19 of 20 games.
The Knicks, at 10-40, have the worst record in the NBA and are tied with the Suns and Cavaliers as having the highest odds of landing the No. 1 pick in the Draft.