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NBA trade grades: Wizards score high for landing Kristaps Porzingis; Mavericks take bigger risk on their end

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With under half an hour remaining before Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, the Dallas Mavericks struck a deal to send Kristaps Porzingis and a future second-round pick to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

At first glance, this is a weird trade for the Mavericks, which we’ll get into shortly. The Wizards, on the other hand, appear to have done pretty well here. Let’s grade the trade from both sides. 

Washington receives:

  • Future second-round pick (year yet to be reported)

Wizards trade grade: B+

Porzingis catches a lot of heat and the narrative around him has become pretty sour over the last few years, in large part because he always seems to be hurt. Yet again, he’s missed 21 games this season and hasn’t played over the last two weeks with a bone bruise on his right knee. It’s not like the Wizards got an All-Star. 

But Porzingis has played pretty well when he’s been on the court this year. His defensive activity has ramped up as Dallas has shot into the top tier of defensive ratings, and he’s averaging just under 20 points per game. Jason Kidd was allowing him to post up a lot more than most coaches would and the results weren’t great (0.89 points per possessions, 38th percentile per Synergy), and we will have to see if his defensive effort remains intact when and if those offensive opportunities he desires stop flowing so frequently. 

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But there’s room for him to own the floor-spacing shooter role we’ve come to know suits his game best. He’s only shooting 28 percent from 3 this season, but we know he’s a better shooter than that. He can, in theory, be what Davis Bertans was for the Wizards before his game went in the tank, only with more defensive ability. 

Speaking of Bertans, that’s also part of this big win for the Wizards: They get off that contract, which has turned into an albatross until proven otherwise. Dinwiddie’s deal wasn’t great, either. Dinwiddie, who was averaging just 12 points per game and shooting a paltry 31 percent from 3 for the Wizards, is on the books for just under $37 million for the next two seasons following this one, while Bertans, not counting the remainder of this season, is owed $49 million through 2025. 

Porzingis isn’t exactly a bargain. He’s making $31.6 million this season, and he’s on the books for $33.8 million next season with a $36 million player option for 2023-24, which, at this rate, you would have to assume he’ll exercise. But again, the belief is that he is someone who can actually help the Wizards win (more than Bertans, certainly, who has been getting DNP-CDs) as they continue to try to put enough around Bradley Beal to convince him to re-sign on a max extension, and then actually stay long term after signing. 

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And if Porzingis doesn’t help? It’s not the end of the world. The Wizards will be going into a rebuild mode anyway if they continue to lose. If Beal leaves, they can just ride out his deal and start looking to acquire assets by moving other pieces like Kyle Kuzma and potentially Rui Hachimura and/or Deni Avdija. 

Either way, the way this contract has been playing out with Bertans, the fact that the Wizards didn’t have to attach a draft pick to get rid of him is sort of a miracle. That they actually got a second-round pick back for him is some pretty delicious icing on the cake. 

Dallas receives: 

Mavericks trade grade: C

It’s a very real risk to shake up a roster that ranks in the top five of defensive ratings and, most importantly, the Western Conference standings. The theory for Dallas is that Dinwiddie is the insurance against potentially losing Jalen Brunson in free agency. 

As for the once-elite-shooting Bertans, an optimist would tell you he’s a much better player than he’s shown since signing that $80 million deal in 2020, and certainly better than he’s been this season at under six points per game and 31 percent from 3 while being glued to the bench most nights. 

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In Dallas, Bertans should get a lot of catch-and-shoot looks playing off the downhill creation of Luka Doncic. We’ll see how much the defense in Dallas falls off if Bertans actually sees real playing time; he’s one of the worst defenders in the league. 

Bertans has only played 20 minutes or more three times since Christmas, but in those three games he averaged just under 16 points on 50 percent 3-point shooting (13 for 26). Dinwiddie is a much better player than he’s show in Washington, as well. 

Again, Porzingis wasn’t some peripheral part of what has been a pretty solid Dallas season to this point, and the Mavs just traded him for two guys who might be real downgrades but still on the books for a lot of money beyond this season. 

But Doncic was never going to be happy playing with Porzingis, who can no longer be viewed through the potential second-star lens. The market dictated what Porzingis is worth, and it’s not all that much. Dallas took a shot. It’s a C grade for now that could go either way in time. 

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