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NBA notes: Knicks trade Kristaps Porzingis to Mavericks

NBA notes: Knicks trade Kristaps Porzingis to Mavericks
Kristaps Porzingis continues to rehab from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left knee. (Mary Altaffer / Associated Press)

Kristaps Porzingis won't be rejoining the Knicks once his knee is healed.

Instead, he's on his way to Dallas after a surprising trade the Knicks say the All-Star forward requested Thursday.

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The Knicks dealt Porzingis to the Mavericks in a seven-player swap that also netted New York two future first-round draft picks and possibly enough room to afford two top free agents this summer.

“As is standard for this time of year, we were exploring various options on potential trades,” Knicks general manager Scott Perry said in a statement. “Considering the uncertainty regarding Kristaps' free agent status and his request today to be traded, we made a trade that we are confident improves the franchise.”

Porzingis has been sidelined for nearly a year after tearing his left ACL. The Knicks said recently he would undergo testing during the middle of February that could have determined if he would be able to return this season.

If it does, it will be in Dallas, where he can form an intriguing international frontcourt with rookie Luka Doncic. Both played professionally in Spain before coming to the NBA as top-five picks.

The Knicks acquired Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews in the deal, while also sending guards Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Courtney Lee to Dallas. Neither team said when the Knicks would get the two first-round picks.

The 7-foot-3 Porzingis was the No. 4 pick in the 2015 draft and averaged 17.8 points and 7.1 rebounds in New York, where he was expected to be the Knicks' franchise player for years. But they declined to give him a contract extension before this season, and now by trading him and Hardaway seem instead to be gearing up to pursue players in free agency.

Hardaway has two more years and about $37 million left on his contract, and moving that was necessary if the Knicks were going to find a way to open the most cap space possible.

New York (10-40) has the worst record in the NBA and is headed toward landing a high pick in the draft. Then the Knicks will be set up to be big spenders — perhaps for two top players — in a free agent market that could include Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and more.

Love scrimmages

Cavaliers All-Star forward Kevin Love took part in a contact scrimmage and could be days from playing in a game.

Love has been out since late October after undergoing surgery on his left foot. He played in just four games before the pain became too much and he opted for surgery.

Cavs coach Larry Drew said Love “did pretty well” during Thursday's 5-on-5 workout.

The Cavs host Dallas on Saturday. But Drew said it would be “pushing it” for Love to play. Drew said the team wants to see how Love responds before deciding the next step in his recovery.

Love hurt his foot in Cleveland's exhibition opener. He sat out a few preseason games and opened the regular season before doctors recommended an operation to alleviate pressure around his big toe.

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The 30-year-old signed a four-year, $120 million contract extension last summer.

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