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So, how does this whole Porzingis, Dinwiddie, Bertans deal work?

So, how does this whole Porzingis, Dinwiddie, Bertans deal work?

If you’re reading this, chances are, you’re confused, too.

And if you caught BasketballNews.com's NBA Trade Deadline Show on Thursday, you saw that we were very bumfuzzled... among other things.

But yeah, say that sh*t out loud: Kristaps Porzingis is a Washington Wizard. And Porzingis is a Wizard because Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertāns are now Dallas Mavericks.

Alright, now take a breath, and let’s take a few minutes to attempt to understand this together.

It was clearer than Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce being amazing that the Mavericks did not want any more of the Porzingis experience. When moved from the New York Knicks three trade deadlines ago, KP was thought to be a franchise star joining then-rookie sensation Luka Dončić to uplift the Mavericks into whatever stratosphere we were talking about at the time. Seriously, that feels like generations ago.

But in "KP Years" it kinda was.

Back then, Porzingis was in the midst of sitting out all of the 2018-19 season, his fourth in the NBA. But the previous year, he had been named a first-time All-Star in just his third season despite his Knicks being 21-27 on the day he was honored. Two weeks later, he tore his ACL, ending his season with averages of 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks on .439/.395/.865 shooting splits. In Dallas, he has come close at times, but hasn’t been able to fully replicate his All-Star self — even as his numbers may suggest otherwise, especially on the boards.

If he was still Unicorn KP, he wouldn’t have gotten dumped for Dinwiddie and Bertāns, the latter of whom is in the conversation for worst contract in the NBA. But to his credit, Porzingis was having a productive season.

In his tenure with the Mavs, Porzingis averaged 20.0 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks with a .448/.345/.831 slash line. He averaged 4.4 free throw attempts per contest and 5.0 in 2019-20; however this season, it was just 3.2 FTAs a night. Even so, his free-throw rate has progressively dropped every season in Dallas, from .260 to .247 to .240.

To this point currently, Porzingis stands at 19.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks on .451/.283/.865 shooting. The 28.3% from three is coming on 5.1 attempts per game (his lowest as a Mav), which is a drop from 7.1 to 6.0 in the two seasons previous.

Porzingis had been anchoring one of the league’s best defenses at times. As of this writing, the Mavericks stand third in fewest points allowed per game, fifth in defensive efficiency, and ninth in point differential. Porzingis even had the team’s second-best win shares per 48 minutes at .172, only behind Dwight Powell, and marking his personal career-high.

But as Tim Cato penned in The Athletic, this has more to do about the direction of Dallas as a team.

Porzingis is eating $31.6 million this year, leaving little room for the Mavericks to maneuver this pffseason without financial creativity, which hasn’t been their strong suit in previous offseasons if you haven’t noticed. KP is also due $33.8 million next year with a $36 million player option for 2023-24, and you can guess how that one’ll go.

By adding Dinwiddie and Bertāns, you’re now eating those contracts, but they’re not as taxing individually. As ran through recently here, Dinwiddie is due $17.1 million this year and $18 million next year, and has a partial guarantee for $18.9 million in 2023-24. Dinwiddie has $10 million guaranteed in '23-24, but the deal becomes fully guaranteed if he plays 50 games each in the two seasons prior; he's played in 44 this year, so he's only six games away from satisfying half of the criteria.

Bertāns will get $16 million again next year and $17 million in 2023-24, and has a partially-guaranteed $16 million in 2024-25.

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For Dallas, these two contracts are just easier to navigate with, and it breaks up the supposed tension-filled relationship we’ve heard about between Dončić and Porzingis for multiple years now. Dinwiddie is also insurance for pending restricted free agent Jalen Brunson, whom the Mavericks still plan to keep, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.

The move completely reshapes how the Mavs will build around Dončić this summer and beyond, which they already signaled post-trade by signing Dorian Finney-Smith to a well-deserved four year, $52 million extension.

This season overall, Dinwiddie is averaging 12.6 points, 5.8 assists, and 4.7 rebounds on .376/.310/.811 shooting splits. Coming off his second ACL tear, his free throw rate is, at .240, the lowest of his career, which typically hovered between .252 and .270 in Brooklyn.

The big question with Dinwiddie will be how he’ll fit next to Dončić, given that he wasn’t his best next to another ball dominant guard in Bradley Beal; although, he did appear to play well without the Wizards' superstar, for what that’s worth.

According to StatMuse, he averaged 10.2 points, 5.0 assists and 4.4 rebounds on .334/.271/.857 splits while playing alongside Beal in 31 games.

But in 13 games without Beal? Dinwiddie was damn near an All-Star, posting 18.5 points, 7.8 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game on a .441/.378/.746 slash line. Free throw percentage is down, sure, but he got there 4.5 times per contest versus the 2.7 he did when Beal was out there.

Now, in Dallas, you’re hoping to find out that this was a not ball-dominant guard problem, as opposed to a Beal one. They did possibly snipe at one another over that whole leadership thing after all. For all we know, one day we could find out that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell weren’t the only Wizards who wanted to beat each other’s asses.

As for Bertāns...

He averages over 14 minutes per game in D.C., is just at 5.7 points per game and shooting a career low (by far!) 31.9% from three. He got this contract after shooting above 42% from deep in back-to-back seasons, and since then, he’s fallen off a cliff. His major redeeming quality could be tapped into while stretching the floor with a virtuoso passer like Dončić, which we theorized for a fellow Latvian a few trade deadlines ago. (Spoiler: That was Porzingis, so we’ll see, I guess.)

As for Washington, another big reason this trade was even on the table was because of Porzingis’ lack of availability. Even now, he’s nursing a knee injury and hasn’t played in nearly two weeks. In Dallas, not including the lost 2018-19 season, Porzingis played 144 of a possible 218 games, including the playoffs. If you do add the games he missed while recovering from a torn ACL, that’s an additional 31 as a part of the Mavericks.

Porzingis, who turns 27 in August, likely has already seen his best days, and might even be years removed from them. In Washington, the franchise is still reportedly trying to reshape their own future around Beal, who is expected to miss the rest of the season due to wrist surgery and could sign an extension this summer worth well over $200 million.

If the Wizards plan on building around Beal and Porzingis, wouldn't that just look like a 75% or so version of what we saw with KP and Luka in Dallas?

Does having Porzingis bring them closer to keeping Beal? And, if so, is that even the direction they should go in?

Your hypothesis might be better than mine, but hey, at least you got rid of those other contracts, I guess.

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