If you listen to the gossip mill, the Unicorn might not be in Dallas for much longer. The Dallas Mavericks could trade big man Kristaps Porzingis, despite team owner Mark Cuban vehemently denying that the Mavs aren’t shopping the 7-foot-3 center from Latvia known as the Unicorn. If the Mavs are considering a trade, however, they could send Porzingis to the Washington Wizards, Charlotte Hornets, or Cleveland Cavs.
Of course, the Mavs may not be actively trying to trade Porzingis, but that doesn’t mean they’d ignore any compelling trade offers for him.
“There have been no discussions about KP with any team,” said Cuban. “We have not discussed him in a trade at all.”
When he’s healthy, the Unicorn is a force on the court. When he’s not healthy, Porzingis is just a shell of himself on the floor as a defensive liability, no matter how many points he scores.
The Mavs are deeply concerned after the NBA released the schedule for the second half of the season. The Mavs play 10 back-to-back games in the second half, which is tied for the second-most in the NBA. That spells doom for someone like Porzingis, who continues to struggle with injuries and lacks the durability to handle the grind of the season.
The Mavs are 15-15 this season and currently in the #9 spot in the Western Conference playoff standings.
Everyone knows the saying about how “90% of success is showing up,” but that doesn’t apply to Porzingis. If you based success on attendance, then the Unicorn would flunk. Porzingis started the season later than his teammates while he recovered from knee surgery. He tweaked his knee in the playoffs last season inside the NBA Bubble in Disneyworld. But he hasn’t looked good since his return.
“It looks like it’s impossible for him to get in a stance,” said one anonymous NBA executive and former scout.” He looks like a scarecrow out there. I’m not sure the guy can guard anybody.”
Ouch. The Unicorn has become a scarecrow. Despite the external chatter, the Mavs insist they’re sticking with their big man, but it’s hard to ignore the stats and the game film. Porzingis has become a defensive liability and is no longer an elite rim protector, which is why the Mavs should make a bold move and put the Unicorn out of his misery.
To make matters worse, everyone who loves NBA conspiracy theories is circulating an image that indicates Porzingis has unfollowed the Dallas Mavericks’ official account on Instagram. That might seem like a silly thing for the average person, but in the hip realm of social media, a player throwing shade at his team with an “unfollow” is an indication that there’s a fractured relationship, and that a trade may be imminent.
Doncic and the Unicorn
On paper, it seemed like a match made in heaven. Wunderkind Luka Doncic and the Unicorn made the future look bright for the Dallas Mavericks. All they needed to do was find the right players to surround Doncic and Porzingis.
Doncic held up his end of the pact with an MVP-like season. Porzingis, however, spent more time on the IL than in uniform. He rushed back a little quicker than he was ready, and the results have been sub-optimal.
Inside the NBA Bubble, the Unicorn posted juicy numbers, averaging 30.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks. That was before a torn meniscus ended his postseason prematurely.
In his first season with the Mavs, Porzingis averaged 20.4 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks per game. His assists were low at 1.8 per game, compared to Denver’s Nikola Jokic, who is one of the best passing big men in the NBA, averaging 8.4 assists per game. The Latvian Black Hole almost always shot when he got the ball and rarely passed.
In 17 games this season, Porzingis averages 20.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game.
Knicks Dump the Unicorn
The Knicks selected Porzingis with the #4 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. He averaged 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game as a rookie, which instilled a glimmer of hope in the MSG faithful. He saw an uptick in his stats in his second season, averaging 18.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game. In 2018, he earned a trip to the All-Star Game while averaging 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game. He played only 56 games before he suffered a season-ending knee injury when he blew out his ACL.
Porzingis and new head coach David Fizdale got off to a bad start. Fizdale, who grew up in South Central LA, had a notorious reputation for not liking “soft” European players. The Unicorn was already in Fizdale’s dog house before he returned from rehabbing his knee. It turned out that Porzingis never played for Fitzdale because the Knicks traded the Unicorn to the Dallas Mavericks. The Knicks got hosed on the deal because Dennis Smith, Jr. was a huge bust. The Knicks recently shipped Smith to the Detrot Pistons to acquire veteran Derrick Rose.
Unicorn Trade: CLT or DC for Porzingis?
A couple of potential trade partners have popped up in recent days. The Dallas Mavs could trade Porzingis to the Charlotte Hornets or Washington Wizards.
The Wiz could use a big man to surround Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook. As much as everyone would love to hype up a potential Beal trade, the NBA’s leading scorer isn’t going anywhere. He loves DC and wants to finish his career with the Wizards.
The Charlotte Hornets have a stellar crop of guards, including Rookie of the Year leading contender LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, and Devonte’ Graham. Hornets owner Michael Jordan would love to bolster his front line with a big man who’s also a 3-point sniper. That’s why a trade for Porzingis makes sense on paper for the Hornets. If Jordan pulls the trigger on a trade for the Unicorn, they’ll have to give up some popular players including Rozier and Malik Monk.
The Cleveland Cavs could also come into the conversation as a trade partner for the Mavs. The Cavs want to move center Andre Drummond before the trade deadline, but will Porzingis really help pull the Cavs out of their losing funk?
Check out more NBA trade rumors.