Kristaps Porzingis: New York Knicks man joins Dallas Mavericks in deadline-day shock

Porzingis is 7ft 3" but is seen as a player who offers more than just a presence near the hoop
Porzingis is 7ft 3in but is regarded as a player who offers more than just a presence near the hoop

Unhappy with your club's business on football's transfer deadline day? Didn't get that big-name signing you were hoping for?

Well spare a thought for the New York Knicks' beleaguered basketball fans.

Imagine your team, after years of failure, unearthed a once-in-a-generation talent - someone who looked capable of taking you back to the top.

Then imagine that, without any warning, they traded him to a team not much better than yours.

Step forward the Knicks, who sent Kristaps Porzingis and three other players to the Dallas Mavericks in return for three solid, but not superstar-level, players and some future draft picks.

The Knicks broke the news with a tweet that read: "The team has acquired guard Dennis Smith Jr, center DeAndre Jordan, guard/forward Wesley Matthews and two future first-round draft picks from Dallas in exchange for forward Kristaps Porzingis, and guards Tim Hardaway Jr, Trey Burke and Courtney Lee."

What followed was shock. Podcasters rushed out emergency episodes and bloggers fired up laptops. Some said this was as bad as it could get for the Knicks.

While football's transfer window closed on Thursday in the UK with minimal drama, in the US the NBA's trade deadline - which will be reached on 7 February - has already thrown up a story as huge as its leading character.

So why all the fuss?

NBA Desktop host Jason Concepcion Sr made his feelings on the trade known
NBA Desktop host Jason Concepcion Sr made his feelings on the trade known in a tweet which was liked more than 10,000 times
Rob Perez, who co-hosts Buckets, was similarly frustrated
Rob Perez, who co-hosts Buckets, was similarly frustrated and his tweet was liked more than 9,000 times

Porzingis is one of a new breed of NBA players who have been nicknamed the 'unicorns' by the media - multi-skilled stars who don't simply rely on their size.

The 23-year-old Latvian is 7ft 3in, making him one of the tallest players in the league.

But he does more than just fulfil the traditional big-man stereotype of standing near to the hoop and dunking - he is equally comfortable providing assists and drifting out to the three-point line and sinking jump shots. Last season he averaged nearly five three-point attempts per game, making nearly 40%. The league average is about 31%.

In Dallas, Porzingis will team up with another young European starlet - Slovenian point guard Luka Doncic, who was the MVP in the Euroleague last season.

Will trade lengthen title wait?

Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers saw the funny side
Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers saw the funny side
Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves was also one of those shocked by the move
Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves was also one of those shocked by the move

Of course, there may be more to the story than meets the eye.

Initial reports suggested Porzingis, who had the option to leave at the end of the season, had told the team he wanted to be traded, dissatisfied with the organisation's inability to pull the team out of the doldrums.

He is currently recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament knee injury, which has kept him on the sidelines for the best part of a year. By sending him and the three other players away, the Knicks have freed up the financial resources to make offers to superstar free agents at the end of the season.

But whatever the reason, it is one of the most abrupt and shocking trades in NBA history.

Porzingis tweeted his thanks to the people of New York for their support
Porzingis tweeted his thanks to the people of New York for their support

As for the Knicks, football fans may compare them to Leeds United or Aston Villa - a 'sleeping giant' of the NBA.

In a league in which 16 of the 30 teams make the play-offs every season, they have won just one play-off series since 2000. And they've not won the title since 1973.

In the longer term, the trade will be judged by whether they are able to attract megastar players entering free agency at the end of this season, such as Golden State's Kevin Durant and Boston's Kyrie Irving.

For now, though, Knicks fans are having to adjust to the fact their potential saviour plays for another team.

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