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Does Kristaps Porzingis Make the Mavericks Playoff Contenders?

The NBA news cycle has been even more wild than usual this week. Things started off on Monday morning when it was reported that Anthony Davis asked the New Orleans Pelicans for a trade. That story sent shockwaves through the rest of the league, and now teams are reportedly lining up and pitching their best offers to the Pelicans with hopes of landing one of the game’s brightest young stars.

Little did we know at the time that that would be just the beginning. On Thursday, it was reported that injured star Kristaps Porzingis was not sold on being a part of the future of the New York Knicks. At the time, this seemed like just another star grumbling about the direction of his franchise. However, less than two hours after Porzingis’ discontent was initially reported, beat reporters from around the league seemingly tweeted in unison that Porzingis had been traded.

It was truly a wild turn of events. There wasn’t so much as a peep regarding Porzingis’ potential availability in trades, yet the Knicks seemingly decided out of the blue to part ways with the most promising young player the franchise has had in years. In a flash, Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee, and Trey Burke were on their way to Dallas. The Mavericks sent Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, and draft considerations back to New York.

This move doesn’t change the landscape of the league the way an Anthony Davis trade might, but it is still a massive deal. Does this trade suddenly make the Mavericks an interesting playoff bet this season? How does it affect the Knicks’ odds of landing Davis or a star free agent like Kyrie Irving this summer? There are all sorts of betting ramifications with this trade, so let’s jump right in.

Will the Mavs Make the Playoffs?

  • +550 to Make Playoffs
  • +1400 to Win Southwest Division
  • +7500 to Win Western Conference
  • +10000 to Win NBA Championship

Okay, so perhaps we are getting a little too far ahead of ourselves by discussing whether the Mavericks could make the playoffs and win it all this season. Dallas looks like a team on the rise but expecting them to win a title is a bit pie-in-the-sky. Obviously, you aren’t betting on Dallas to win the title in 2019, even at +10000.

Let’s talk about the Southwest Division, though. MyBookie currently has the Mavericks listed at +1400 to finish atop their division. Dallas is currently third in the Southwest. They’re seven games back of San Antonio, and six and a half games south of Houston. They’re also just a half-game ahead of the Pelicans, who are currently in fourth.

There are still a couple of months left in the season, so it’s certainly possible for the Mavericks to make up that ground. Whether they do so depends on Porzingis’ health, however. The young Latvian hasn’t played a minute this season after suffering a torn ACL about a year ago. The Knicks were coy regarding his potential availability for the rest of the season, but it was reported late Thursday that Porzingis was on the verge of a return to action.

If Porzingis does hit the floor this season, his presence will be a huge boost to Dallas. Let’s not forget that this guy averaged a career-high 22.7 points per game in 48 games last season prior to going down. Still just 23, the 7’3” behemoth was also connecting on 39.5 percent of his looks from 3-point range. He hasn’t shown the rebounding upside you may expect from a guy his size, but his offensive skill set is incredibly advanced.

When healthy, Porzingis will likely slide in and become the Mavs’ starting power forward. One would imagine they’ll pair him with Maxi Kleber, but Salah Mejri and Dwight Powell are other candidates to start at the five. Porzingis would immediately establish himself as the team’s second star alongside Luka Doncic, who has taken the league by storm as a rookie this year.

Dallas is just 20th as a team in 3-point percentage, as they have connected on 34.5 percent of their looks so far. Porzingis will certainly help in that regard.

Seven games is a lot to ask, though. The Spurs and Rockets have enough of a lead at this point to where it’s tough to fathom Dallas overtaking them. I don’t hate the idea of taking a shot here at +1400, but I’d probably wait until next season before betting on Dallas to win the Southwest.

Making the playoffs in any capacity is more likely. The Mavericks are currently in the No. 12 spot in the Western Conference at 23-28. The L.A. Clippers, who hold the eighth and final playoff spot, are 28-24 thus far. That’s a four-and-a-half-game gap between the eight and 12 spot. Given how shaky the Clippers have looked lately, it’s not unreasonable to think LAC could fall out of playoff contention.

In order to make it to the playoffs, Dallas would have to leapfrog the Timberwolves, Kings, Lakers, and Clippers. I’m not a believer in Minnesota, while the Kings have felt like a team on the verge of a dramatic dive all year long. The Lakers are the toughest team to gauge. They just got LeBron James back from injury, so it’s safe to assume they’re going to rise in the standings over the next few weeks.

Even so, I like what Dallas is doing enough to suggest that there is plenty of value in taking them at +550 to sneak into the playoffs this season. That is easily the most likely outcome among the four bets listed above. It’s still something of a long shot, but Dallas could make a run here after the trade.

Will the Knicks Acquire Anthony Davis via Trade?

  • Yes +2000

The Knicks were one of the teams linked with Anthony Davis once his trade request became public on Monday. New York had Porzingis to dangle in any trade, which potentially gave the Knicks a better trade chip than most other teams would be able to offer. Porzingis is hurt, but 23-year-olds with his kind of size and talent don’t come around very often. The Pelicans would have done very well to land Porzingis in a Davis trade.

Apparently, Davis went so far as to ask the Pelicans to trade him to the Knicks. New York is reportedly a destination that interests Davis, and he believes New Orleans could have gotten Porzingis in a deal. However, for whatever reason, the Knicks seemingly balked, and they settled on the Dennis Smith Jr. package from the Mavs instead.

Could Davis still wind up in New York? Sure. Davis’ current contract is set to expire after the 2019-20 season, and one would imagine he’ll still have interest in signing with the Knicks at that point. However, parting ways with Porzingis essentially made getting a deal done with the Pelicans impossible. Porzingis would have been the centerpiece of the package heading back to the Pelicans, but the Knicks have very little ammo without him.

Could New Orleans be tempted by a deal involving youngsters like Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina? Potentially. Knox, in particular, has emerged as a potentially appealing young asset. Ntilikina has struggled quite a bit, though, and it’s not a great sign for him that the Knicks were apparently so eager to trade for another young point guard in Smith. If nothing else, that kills what little trade value Ntilikina may have had left.

The Pelicans may be forced to settle for a lesser offer for Davis in the end, but I would still imagine they can do better than whatever the Knicks may be able to give them without Porzingis on the table. As much as I like Knox, it’s going to take more than that to get A.D. So, I’ll pass on betting on the Knicks landing Davis via trade at +2000.

Will the Knicks Sign Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, or Kevin Durant This Summer?

  • Knicks to Sign Kyrie Irving +600
  • Knicks to Sign Kevin Durant +300
  • Knicks to Sign Jimmy Butler +800

I’m skeptical that the Knicks got as much for Porzingis as they could have, but one thing this trade does do for them is open plenty of cap room. By getting rid of the contracts of Hardaway Jr. and Lee, the Knicks have effectively opened up two potential max contract slots ahead of the upcoming summer. That means New York would be able to afford two of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Jimmy Butler, in theory.

Of course, parting ways with Porzingis does take some of the shine off the Knicks as a potential destination. New York has been struggling to attract star free agents for years, so losing their most prized young player makes any player’s decision to join the franchise a bit riskier. We saw just a few years ago with Blake Griffin and the Clippers how one appealing young star can transform a team as a destination. Losing Porzingis essentially turns the Knicks into a blank slate.

Regardless, we can expect the Knicks to shoot for the moon again this summer, even though it’s a strategy that has repeatedly failed them in the past.

After saying before the season that he planned to re-sign with the Celtics, Kyrie Irving told the press on February 1 that he hasn’t decided what to do when his contract expires. The Knicks have been positioning themselves as a Kyrie suitor, and there is a real chance there is some mutual interest there. This season hasn’t quite gone according to plan for the Celtics, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Irving is interested in leaving as a free agent.

I think the Lakers are going to emerge as a sneaky contender for Kyrie, but I admittedly have interest in betting on the Knicks ultimately emerging as his preferred destination. New York has been looking for a savior for years, and I get the feeling that Irving would relish that kind of an opportunity. So, Kyrie at +600 is awfully tempting.

Durant and Butler seem less likely, but MyBookie likes KD to New York at +300. The Knicks’ chances of landing two stars in free agency hinges on their ability to lure one first. If Kyrie joins the Knicks early in free agency, I would imagine other big-name players will have more interest. Butler has been a long-rumored target of the Knicks, but at this point, I feel like the most likely outcome there is Butler staying in Philadelphia.

So, I’d take Durant at +300 over Butler at +800 to join the Knicks this summer. Durant should be looking for a new challenge after his successful stint with the Warriors, while Butler trying to build a contender with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in Philly makes sense for him. Butler at +800 is a bet I’d avoid altogether for now.

I think Kyrie is the most likely option for New York, so I’d bet on him at +600 before taking KD at +300.
Taylor Smith :