Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans are Dallas Mavericks.

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As the beginning of February approached and trade season began, the Dallas Mavericks were linked to many players across the NBA who people thought could’ve been dealt. Myles Turner, Goran Dragic, John Collins and even old friend Harrison Barnes were just some of potential names surrounding a potential trade. Even Tim Hardaway Jr.’s name was cast out, specifically in a deal for Caris LeVert who was eventually moved to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In what can only be surmised as a shock, the Mavericks ended up trading away Kristaps Porzingis and a second round pick to the Washington Wizards for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans.

Porzingis, as we all know, was brought in to be the second star next to Luka Dončić. The thought was that if Porzingis could rehab successfully from his injuries, his defensive ability and special shooting ability would pair well in the pick and roll game along side Dončić. When healthy, Porzingis showed flashes of being the player he was with the Knicks, specifically this season. However, “health” is the optimal word here. Much has been made of Porzingis’ injury history throughout his Mavericks tenure. In previous seasons, his absence has put a strain on Dončić, as the young superstar has had to carry the load through many of the games. This season has been a different story. In the 22 games this season without Porzingis, the Mavericks’ defensive rating is actually better than when he’s been on the floor. Yes, Porzingis adds an element of shot blocking to the post that many teams struggle with. But in Jason Kidd’s system, the Mavericks on ball defense has improved significantly, to the tune of a top 5 defense in the NBA.

The overwhelming reaction to the trade has been one sided. Either you hate the move or understand the move. An analysis will be done later on what Dinwiddie and Bertans bring to the Mavericks, but the question remains why this move was made. GM Nico Harrison has this to say on the trade:

“I think we made ourselves better and gave us more flexibility…depth too. It was less about availability (KP) and more how we make ourselves better. I had tons of conversations. This is the one that made the most sense.”

Nico’s answer provides some clarity on the move. While it’s hard to fathom that availability was not factored in, the Mavericks looked at this from different angles. First, the team has played arguably their best basketball as of late without KP on the floor. Perhaps they saw the growth of the lineup without him and realized it was time to move on. KP’s injury history is clearly frustrating but maybe it took a stretch like this for the Mavericks to finally move him. Secondly, the depth conversation is an interesting one. With KP off the floor, Brunson in the starting lineup and THJ injured, the Mavericks have been relying on a bench unit consisting of Trey Burke, Frank Ntilikina, Maxi Kleber and Marquese Chriss. With the addition of Dinwiddie and Bertans, the Mavericks now have another ball handling guard in the second unit and a forward who, despite his struggles from deep this season, is a career 40% three point shooter.

The money aspect of the deal is interesting as well. KP’s contract was viewed around the league as an albatross, a contract that generally would only be able to be swapped with another contract just as bad (i.e. John Wall). By essentially breaking up Porzingis’ contract into two separate pieces, the Mavericks now have smaller contracts to match salaries with in the event a star becomes available in the next year. It also enabled them to resign Dorian Finney-Smith to a team friendly extension as well. Flexibility is a huge bonus in this league, and the Mavericks certainly increased theirs with this trade.

The final interesting piece of this is the angle from the front office. By trading Porzingis for two underwhelming assets, the Mavericks essentially are admitting that the KP trade (at least the max contract, if anything) was a mistake. At the time, it seemed like a fantastic move, especially if Porzingis could return to Unicorn status. But time and time again, the Mavericks were trying to adjust on the fly as KP missed stretches of the season. The previous front office threw all their eggs into the “KP is the second star for Luka” basket, and it unfortunately did not work. Nico Harrison and Jason Kidd spent the year analyzing this roster and ultimately determined that KP was not a part of their future. Porzingis’ injury history and the fact that the Mavericks have played better without him surely had something to do with it. His contract and lack of trade ability also would’ve hamstrung the Mavericks into retooling the roster appropriately as Luka enters his mid-20s.

It’s hard to determine winners and losers of a trade until the players have suited up and have had time to mesh with their new teams. But Dallas clearly felt that this was the best course of action with respect to Kristaps Porzingis. By dealing him now, the Mavericks take a step back in the near future with the knowledge that their increased flexibility should allow them to surround Dončić with the necessary talent to win a championship.



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