Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis trade looks less disastrous now

Clippers forward Marcus Morris visited the Garden for Sunday’s matinee on the two-year anniversary of the Kristaps Porzingis trade. Morris now has been added to the Porzingis trade analysis.

Thank you, Immanuel Quickley.

This was Morris’ first Garden visit since being dealt West last February and comes in as a bench player for the Clippers, backing up Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

Morris had been the No. 1 scoring option during the 2019-20 Knicks debacle.

While Porzingis’ Mavericks are in a dangerous slide, Morris’ presence is another symbol that the Porzingis blockbuster two years ago is not the disaster as previously reported.

With the season gone astray, the Knicks front office vigorously debated whether to trade Morris or keep him and try to re-sign him.

They look to have made the correct call, dealing Morris to the Clippers for the 27th pick. That became the 25th pick and was turned into Quickley. The rookie sensation has the organization wondering if they have their starting point guard of the future – if not the present.

The Knicks would not have had the cap space to sign Morris to a one-year, $15 million pact in the summer of 2019 without trading Porzingis.

That the narrative is changing is startling, considering the failings of point guard Dennis Smith Jr., whom the Knicks have decided to put in the G league bubble with coach Tom Thibodeau currently having no use for the 2017 Mavericks lottery pick.

Knicks Immanuel Quickley
Immanuel Quickley
NBAE via Getty Images

Yet even with Smith’s demise, the trade is looking a lot better. Porzingis’ Mavericks have lost five in row and eight of their last 10 games to fall to 8-12.

If the season ended today, the Knicks would be seeded 11th in the lottery courtesy of the Mavericks. The Mavericks gave the Knicks an unprotected 2021 pick and a 2023 first-rounder. The Knicks entered Sunday tied for the No. 8 seed, but there still is a chance they have two lottery picks for the 2021 draft.

The alarming part of the Mavericks’ losing is Doncic appears fed up, questioning whether his teammates want to win.

“Terrible,” Doncic said. “There’s really not much to say. I never felt like this. We gotta do something, because this is not looking good and we gotta step up and just talk to each other and play well better than this. It’s mostly effort. … I would say right now it’s looking like we don’t care, honestly, if we win games or not.”

When the Porzingis trade was made, some league insiders were slightly concerned, knowing the egos of Doncic and Porzingis. The Mavericks were not on Janis Porzingis’ wish list he gave Steve Mills – perhaps knowing the Mavericks already had their face of the franchise.

The Porzingis brothers were trouble in the eyes of Steve Mills and Knicks GM Scott Perry and they tried to cut their losses before he became a restricted free agent.

The extra cap space provided by the trade did not net their two big fish – Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. But it did haul in Julius Randle and Morris. They didn’t make a perfect forward tandem last season but Randle played a lot better once Morris was shipped out in February.

This season, Randle has exploded, deserving major All-Star consideration in powering the Knicks to a 9-11 start after 20 games entering the Clippers match. Randle, 26, was averaging 22.2 points, 11.1 rebounds and six assists.

Smith’s journey has gone the opposite route. “The G League is a very valuable tool,” Thibodeau said Sunday before facing the Clippers. “You see it used more and more by virtually every team in the league. You get a lot of out of practice but playing time is important. I think it will be great for him. His attitude has been very positive.”

Smith, the Knicks say, requested the move. Ironically, The Post reported previously ex-player developmental director, Craig Robinson wanted to put Smith into the G League last season but Perry rejected the notion. Sources say Perry was fearful Smith’s reps would be angered.

Smith has been relegated to two garbage-time cameos since he came back from a quad injury first week of January. Earlier this week, Thibodeau mentioned his options at point guard but didn’t mention Smith.

Knicks Kristaps Porzingis trade Mavericks
Kristaps Porzingis
AP

When Thibodeau was hired, he vowed to use the G League more liberally. Smith now goes to the bubble where other teams can see him play and perhaps his trade value will increase.

Meanwhile, Porzingis, who is 25 and missed the first nine games after knee surgery, is averaging 18.6 points, eight rebounds and less than one assist per game. The 7-3 Latvian has never been as good a passer as advertised coming out of the 2015 draft.

With rookie lottery pick Obi Toppin hardly a sure thing to turn into a power-forward standout, the Knicks are looking at Randle through a new lens – not as trade bait. The question is how Dallas is viewing Porzingis now.

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