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'Of all places': How Kristaps Porzingis found out he was no longer on the Dallas Mavericks

According to a witness, Porzingis learned he was traded while waiting in line at East Hampton Sandwich Co. in University Park
Credit: Jake Derichsweiler
Former Dallas Maverick Kristaps Porzingis learned he was traded while at East Hampton Sandwich Co. in Dallas.

DALLAS — Imagine this. You're on your lunch break, and you just want to order a nice, hearty sandwich at your local joint.

But instead of chips, the sandwich comes with a hefty side -- a new job.

That's apparently what happened to former Dallas Mavericks player Kristaps Porzingis this week.

Before the 2 p.m. NBA trade deadline on Thursday, the 7-foot-3 forward-center found out that he had been traded from the Mavs to the Washington Wizards. And he apparently learned about it while waiting in line to order food at the East Hampton Sandwich Co. location near SMU in Dallas -- at least according to one basketball fan who just happened to be standing behind Porzingis in line in that moment.

"He got a phone call and just ran outside and got in his car," Jake Derichsweiler told WFAA. "I was right behind him in line, so we just stepped up and the cashier were like, 'Was that Porzingis?' Being a basketball fan myself, I was keeping up with the trade deadline all day. So, I was like, 'He may have just gotten traded.'"

Like much of the NBA world, fans were keeping tabs on the trade deadline throughout Thursday on social media sites like Twitter, which is how Derichsweiler found out about the news.

"Sure enough, we sat down after ordering and saw on Twitter that he got traded," Derichsweiler said.

Derichsweiler said Porzingis, after seemingly receiving the news himself, came back into the restaurant to order the lunch he'd came for, while staying on the phone. 

It's possible Porzingis had heard the news before it publicly broke and before his trip to the sandwich shop. On Saturday, a Wizards beat reporter tweeted that Porzingis told him he was in a hyperbaric chamber when the Mavericks called to tell him the news of the trade.

Either way, Derichsweiler said the Latvian basketball player appeared to be in good spirits while on the call he received at the sandwich shop, whoever it was from.

Derichsweiler also admits with a laugh that the photo he snapped of Porzingis in line at the sandwich shop may not be the most flattering photo. The image that the fan shared on Twitter showed the 7-foot-3 player with an unappealing look on his face, as if he were disgusted by the trade news.

"I think it was just an accident," Derichsweiler said, laughing at the moment he was lucky enough to catch in frame. "He was just, like, scratching his nose. It just happened to be a funny face."

Porzingis was sent to the Wizards, along with a second-round draft pick, for guard Spencer Dinwiddie and forward Davis Bertans.

In the end, the Porzingis experiment did not work out long-term in Dallas after he joined the team via a trade from the New York Knicks in January 2019. He quickly signed a lucrative five-year, $158 million contract in July 2019 after being acquired by the Mavs.

In the three years he spent with the team, the Mavs won zero playoff series -- despite the continued hope of Porzingis working well in tandem with superstar Luka Doncic.

Health issues, such as knee injuries, ultimately plagued Porzingis' time in Dallas. This season alone, the forward-center -- nicknamed "The Unicorn" because of the rare skillset he flashes for a player of his size when healthy -- has already missed 21 games due to back tightness, an ankle sprain and chronic knee soreness.

Even with Porzingis out for extended stretches in the 2021-2022 season, the Mavericks sat at a 32-23 record before the trade.

In an Instagram post shared after the trade was announced, Porzingis wished his teammates, his coaches, the Mavericks organization and the city of Dallas continued success.

"The fans and the city of Dallas welcomed me with open arms," Porzingis wrote, "and I will always be grateful for that."

Still: Basketball, like life, can come at you fast.

Derichsweiler summed up his own whirlwind experience with the eleventh hour of the NBA trade deadline perfectly. 

"I just witnessed someone get traded," he said. "Of all places, it's just at this sandwich shop down the street."

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