As Kristaps Porzingis lifted his new Mavericks threads during Monday's introductory press conference in Dallas, it was the official end to a crazy few days that saw the 7-foot-3 Latvian go from the Knicks' franchise star, to a disgruntled one looking for a new beginning, to the centerpiece in a shocking blockbuster deal.
The deal went down so fast that all the details surrounding the evolution of trading New York's franchise cornerstone were left merky. That is until The New York Times' Marc Stein did some digging to solve some of the questions Knicks fans may still have.
Possibly the biggest question is whether or not the Knicks got the best deal for the 23-year-old Porzingis, who is almost a year out since he tore his ACL last season. It turns out New York was quietly poking around the league with Porzingis' name in trade packages for most of last month. They were looking to see if teams would part ways with their presumed untouchable players, like Jazz PG Donovan Mitchell and Kings PG De'Aaron Fox, but nothing came of it.
The Mavericks, though, were a team the Knicks knew had significant trade interest in Porzingis. One source told Stein the team asked "about a hundred times" whether or not he was on the table, and the Mavs weren't as worried about Porzingis' injuries as other teams might have been.
In the end, the Knicks were able to not only shop Porzingis, but get rid of two expiring contracts in Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee. Trey Burke joining the deal made way for Dennis Smith Jr., who the Knicks were always fond of. And, of course, New York created tons of cap room for free agency this upcoming summer.
With that being the Knicks' obvious play in this deal, rival executives told Stein they liked the trade as they believe "the Knicks must have some promising inside information about their ability to lure the likes of [Kevin] Durant and [Kyrie] Irving."
But another question that arises is why did the Knicks make this trade so quickly? At least, that's what it felt like looking from the outside.
Well, going back to the Mavs asking "about a hundred times" on Porzingis, the Knicks knew they could engage Dallas when Porzingis became available. According to Stein, both teams were aware of what each other wanted, and had been discussing a potential deal that could shop Hardaway for Wesley Matthews (who came over in the trade with DeAndre Jordan anyway) in the weeks prior to the agreed upon deal.
It also worked perfectly that the Mavs and Knicks faced off at The Garden on Jan. 30, so GMs Scott Perry and Donnie Nelson basically mapped out the trade in person with Knicks president Steve Mills doing the final sign-off in the end. The only reason hands didn't shake that night was due to the meeting Porzingis and his brother/agent, Janis, had asked for on Thursday.
That brings us to our last question: Did Porzingis actually request a trade from the Knicks? They sure did.
The meeting lasted less than five minutes, with Janis giving the Knicks a list of four teams -- Nets and Clippers among them -- that he and Kristaps agreed would be acceptable trade destinations. But these two facts are worth noting: The Mavericks weren't among those four teams, and Porzingis didn't have a no-trade clause in his contract, meaning the Knicks held all the power in where he landed.
The Porzingis brothers forced New York's hand, though, by telling the team Kristaps would leave for Spain to continue his rehab if he wasn't traded by the Feb. 7 deadline. So, despite not being on the list, the Knicks made the final call to Dallas to say they were ready to strike the deal officially.
Mark Cuban and the Mavericks had no reason to believe Porzingis would want to sign a max extension with them this summer, but they are confident he can be persuaded to stay in Dallas with his idol Dirk Nowitzki and rookie phenom Luka Doncic, who he also has a history with, on the squad. In fact, they believe a Porzingis/Doncic pairing could replicate that of Nowitzki and Steve Nash from back in the day.
It is way too early to say either team won this trade, with many scenarios that could play out this offseason to change that answer. But, in the end, both of these teams were engaged in talks well before the ink touched the paper. It was only a matter of time before the trigger was pulled.