Knicks Say Goodbye to Porzingis and Prepare a Possible Hello for Durant

The Mavericks now hope to win over Porzingis, 23, keep him in Dallas and make him the team’s co-star alongside the 6-7 Luka Doncic, who is only 19 but has already emerged as a standout in his first season in the N.B.A. In Dallas’s dream scenario, Porzingis, who is from Latvia, and Doncic, who is from Slovenia, will form a partnership reminiscent of the retired Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki, who, at 40 and in his 21st season with the Mavericks, may be playing his final N.B.A. campaign.

“We obviously think Porzingis is a great young talent, similar in many ways to Dirk,” Mavericks Coach Rick Carlisle told 103.3 FM radio in Dallas before his team played Thursday night in Detroit. “This is kind of a Dirk-and-Nash type of situation, only these guys are taller.”

For the Knicks, being able to shed the contracts of both Hardaway and Lee had become a priority before next week’s trade deadline, as The Times reported last week. So they jumped at the opportunity to do the deal with Dallas rather than spend the next week seeing what other teams might offer for Porzingis.

The Knicks have been regarded in league circles for some time as the foremost threat to sign Durant away from the Warriors in July. The deal with Dallas means they will have the financial wherewithal to do so — and likewise to pursue Irving.

The Knicks, with a league-worst record of 10-40, are also on course to have a 14 percent chance at securing the top pick in the June draft, which would enable them to select Zion Williamson, the highly coveted Duke forward.

Smith was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2017 draft, passed over by the Knicks and Jackson, who drafted a different backcourt player: Frank Ntilikina of France. Dallas has been trying to trade Smith for weeks, having quickly concluded that the ball-dominant guard, despite his robust athleticism, is not an ideal fit with Doncic.

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