(RADIO.COM Sports) As the NBA trade deadline looms on March 25, more names are surfacing on the block.
On Tuesday, Dallas Mavericks center Kristaps Porzingis was the latest big name to be mentioned as a possible trade candidate. The Mavericks have been “quietly gauging the trade market” for Porzingis, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report reported Tuesday, as they second-guess whether he's the right fit to pair with star Luka Doncic.
The 7-foot-3 Porzingis is averaging 20.5 points and 8.2 rebounds, but he has only played in 17 games this season and his defense continues to be a major liability for Dallas. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban denied the report, but the speculation has already begun.
If the Mavericks do indeed want to trade Porzingis, here are some potential options.
Golden State Warriors
The Mavericks have previously contacted the Warriors about Porzingis, according to a report, and for good reason. Porzingis would be an ideal fit in Golden State’s offense. He's shooting 35.2% from 3-point range this season, which would help fill the void left by the absence of star shooting guard Klay Thompson as the Warriors aim to return to the playoffs this year.
If the Warriors were to put a deal together for Porzingis, forward Andrew Wiggins’ contract matches up well. Any deal for Porzingis would likely need to include draft picks as well.
The Bulls are an intriguing option as a landing spot for Porzingis. Chicago’s mix of young players and veterans on sizable contracts makes them an attractive trade partner, Fischer reported.
Forward Otto Porter Jr. and big man Lauri Markkanen are two potential options, as both are on expiring contracts and could be part of a trade package. Porter continues to be sidelined by a back injury, so he carries little trade value, but his $28.5-million payday in 2020-'21 could be used in as part of the deal to help match the financials. Porzingis is making nearly $29.5 million this season.
The 7-foot Markkanen, who's nearing a return from a shoulder injury, would be the appealing player for Dallas in this potential trade. He's in the final year of his rookie deal and is set to hit restricted free agency this summer. Markkanen is essentially Porzingis-lite, so including him in a deal would mean Chicago is more willing to bet on Porzingis’ future and ceiling than Markkanen’s. It's worth noting that Markkanen’s defense has also been questionable at times, begging the question if he's really a better option for the Mavericks.
Pairing Porzingis in the Bulls' offense with star guard Zach LaVine could be downright scary. LaVine is having the best season of his career, and the addition of someone like Porzingis could be the boost the Bulls need as they currently cling onto the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.
If pairing Porzingis with LaVine would be scary, so would be pairing him with Hawks point guard Trae Young. The Hawks entered Tuesday at 13-17 and in 11th place in the East. They could use another scorer in their fast-paced offense to help their playoff chances.
Porzingis’ versatility to shoot from beyond the arc would do well to complement Young, and the Hawks could have their own go-to trio if they can swing a deal that allows them to keep center Clint Capela as a defensive force under the rim.
Big man John Collins is set to become a restricted free agent this summer after not reaching an extension with the team prior to this season. He has already come up as a potential trade piece for the Hawks, and he could be a welcome addition to the Mavericks. But if the Hawks aren't willing to give Collins a max deal, would they want to take on Porzingis’ contract?
Of course, adding Porzingis doesn't address the issue of the Hawks' cluttered backcourt, so perhaps they look elsewhere for a move ahead of the deadline.
The Hornets are another team that Fischer mentioned in his report that are similar to the Bulls — on the cusp of the playoff bubble with young talent and sizable contracts.
Big man Cody Zeller and guard Malik Monk are two notable players on Charlotte with expiring contracts who could work in a deal for Porzingis, but Dallas would want more firepower to pair with Doncic. That could mean asking for guard Terry Rozier to be included in any deal.
Rozier has been one of the hottest hands in the NBA in February, silencing the critics who questioned Charlotte for giving him a three-year, $58-million contract. A backcourt of him and Doncic could be as good as any in the NBA.