The Dallas Mavericks explore a new rivalry with the New York Knicks as they continue to cross paths. The trade for Kristaps Porzingis put both clubs on distinct journeys. The Knicks are seemingly taking a younger more patient route. While the Mavericks utilize experience in the hopes of more immediate results.
Currently, the Mavericks have three former Knicks on their roster (KP, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee). This establishes a level of familiarity that is key to a true rivalry.
The disdain KP has shown the Knicks front office is well documented. Early last season Courtney Lee lamented his desire to be traded. The Knicks have traded THJ on two occasions, so naturally, some level of animosity exists there. Being considered trad-able is enough to damage any player’s ego.
After questionable stints in the big apple Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee are in need of stability. They have experienced some success but reviving their otherwise dormant careers is a shared focus. These situations make a potential rivalry more plausible.
A recent team outing to Miami solidified Kristaps Porzingis is finally at full strength. Reportedly the former All-Star was impressive during this three-day bonding event. The team scrimmaged and worked out while in Miami. Teammate Dwight Powell spoke highly of Porzingis when approached by Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News:
“He’s 7-foot-3 and he shoots it from anywhere, with ease. It’s kind of hard to affect that shot. He’s moving well, he’s at full-strength.”
Although expected this is welcomed news to the Mavericks. They have been overly cautious with the teams most important addition. These former Knicks have every reason to be ready for this match-up.
Dennis Smith Jr’s obscure departure from Dallas bods well for the rivalry. His arrival to the Knicks placed him in a position to lead from the front. In Dallas, this was a near impossibility when the Mavericks selected Luka Doncic in the 2018 draft. The Mavs were then faced with a franchise-changing dilemma. Ultimately Smith Jr’s exit ushered in the Kristaps Porzingis era in Dallas. For Dennis, victories against his former club only bolster his confidence and the authenticity of this potential rivalry.
According to Bleacher Report, rookie RJ Barrett recently initiated some pre-season bulletin board material. When asked who he’d most like to posterize he replied “Kristaps Porzingis”. Check it out:
RJ is already a Knicks legend ? pic.twitter.com/QVtAP52n3d
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 16, 2019
Naturally, Mavericks twitter took exception to RJ’s proclamation. They all but dismissed the lofty goal as unattainable. In the macro, this plays as a rambunctious rookie not fully understanding the NBA media. More than likely this comment will be compartmentalized to mundane off-season chatter. The micro, however, brings a new set of circumstances that strengthen this battle. Players don’t forget jabs, like this. No matter how minuscule the comments may seem.
This type of jargon tends to motivate a competitor especially one returning from injury. The rookie’s comments add to an anticipated match set to first take place in New York on 11/08/19.
The Mavericks and Knicks will face-off just twice this season (11/8 & 11/14). Nowhere near the number of games needed to validate a rivalry but these facts remain. The documented familiarity combined with perceived disrespect means everyone is invested.
The investment only fuels the battle. This rivalry likely will never reach its full potential but watching the two clubs compete will be worth the price of admission.