Leon Rose William Wesley Knicks

Leon Rose William Wesley Knicks


New York Knicks president Leon Rose and VP William Wesley look on during a bout with the Chicago Bulls.

The Knicks and Celtics discussed a trade in 2019 that would have sent Kyrie Irving to New York and Kristaps Porzingis to Boston, per Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer.

In an article previewing the 2024 NBA Finals — featuring Irving’s Mavericks against Porzingis’ Celtics — Fischer revisited the nixed trade from 2019.

“…Come late January [in 2019], when New York’s front office began to quietly pursue deals to move on from Porziņgis, the Celtics and Knicks even held tangible dialogue about swapping Irving for the 7-2 sharpshooter, league sources told Yahoo Sports, before the Mavericks swooped in and sent a package headlined by two first-round picks to New York,” Fischer wrote on June 3.

Following those nixed trade talks, the Knicks would trade Porzingis to the Mavericks in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and two first-round draft picks. Irving, meanwhile, would depart from Boston as a free agent to join Kevin Durant as a member of the Brooklyn Nets.

What Could Have Been…

As Fischer’s article highlighted, the Knicks in 2019 were trying to pair up Irving and Kevin Durant, per several insiders. If they had pulled off the trade for Irving from Boston, the NBA landscape could have looked very different in 2019.

“By dealing Porziņgis, the Knicks announced to the league that New York was positioning itself to splurge in free agency for two All-Stars — with Durant and Irving, of course, atop the wish list,” Fischer wrote. “If the Knicks could have secured Irving ahead of that trade deadline, perhaps the folks around Madison Square Garden would have left a strong enough impression on Irving, and he would have recruited Durant to join him in Manhattan as opposed to the borough across the East River. Perhaps Irving never ends up with the Mavericks after Porziņgis’ tenure alongside [Luka] Doncic came to its own conclusion.”

Topsy-Turvy Path to 2024 NBA Finals

After Irving and Porzingis found new homes in 2019, they switched teams again in subsequent years. While Irving was moved from Brooklyn to Dallas in 2023, Porzingis was sent from Dallas to Washington less than three seasons into his tenure with the Mavericks. The Latvian’s stint in D.C. would not last long either as the Wizards would trade him to the Celtics in the 2023 offseason.

Interestingly, the muddled paths taken by the two players took them to the 2024 NBA Finals. Both players seemingly found their new, permanent homes — as evidenced by Irving’s connection with Luka Doncic and the Celtics’ faith in Porzingis, who signed a long-term contract extension with the Celtics within days of his arrival.

“I haven’t stopped smiling since being here,” Porzingis said after a Celtics victory on February 15, via Boston.com. “I just enjoy being here so much. To be in this kind of organization, playing for these kind of fans… it’s unreal.”

“From the top down, it’s just a really high-level organization. And us as players, we feel that and we know that we have to show up each and every night.”

Irving gave a similarly glowing appraisal to the Mavericks franchise after he helped them clinch a berth in the 2024 NBA Finals. Irving also credited his maturity for making the association with Doncic and the Mavericks fit hand and glove.

“…What you’re seeing now is a version of me that I’m proud of,” Irving said, via Mavs.com. “I look at myself every day in the mirror and give myself affirmations. I meditate, I pray. I’m just more consistent in my daily practices to help me stay grounded. Part of knowing who you are is knowing where you came from.”

Sai Mohan covers the NBA for Heavy.com. Based in Portugal, Sai is a seasoned sports writer with nearly two decades of publishing experience, including bylines at Yardbarker, FanSided’s Hoops Habit, International Business Times, Hindustan Times and more. More about Sai Mohan

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