By Johnny Askounis/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Since being traded to the Dallas Mavericks in 2019, Kristaps Porzingis has been nearly constantly linked to various reports on potential trades. He has been playing through the persisting rumors. Team owner Mark Cuban has expressed his support to the Latvian star refuting rumors on multiple occasions, including in an interview with Mark Medina of NBA.com, published prior to Tuesday’s overtime win against the Los Angeles Clippers.
“Trades like that, you always end up further behind. When you trade a superstar, you never get the best end of it,” pointed out Cuban, “This is the unicorn and he’s doing more and more unicorn things.”
Porzingis, 26, has registered 21.1 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game so far in the 2021-22 NBA Regular Season. He has missed six games due to the latest of the injuries limiting him throughout his ongoing stint at the Mavericks.
“My body is feeling the best that it’s felt in a long time,” he told NBA.com following Monday’s practice, “I feel like my body has matured. I feel strong on the court. It’s translating into my game.”
“This coaching staff and how they see me out there on the court, it fits more to what I have in mind,” he added commenting on moving from former head coach Rick Carlisle to the current boss Jason Kidd, “It’s in everybody’s interest to bring the best out of me.”
“I’ve always believed that KP hasn’t played his best basketball yet. Now you’re seeing why we didn’t trade him,” claimed Cuban, “He’s a great player. He’s a good dude. All of my experiences with him have been positive. So why would we do that? But that’s NBA Twitter and that’s Mavs Twitter. That’s what they do. They’re probably trying to trade Luka right now.”
“It’s the NBA, and it’s a business at the end of the day,” conceded Porzingis, “It’s not in your hands as players. I didn’t really put too much focus on that. I just kept playing. I tried to focus on doing the best job I can, whether I’m here or somewhere else.”
Playing with Doncic
Despite trade rumors continuously resurfacing, he has been labeled at the Dallas franchise as the most suitable sidekick for fellow European star Luka Doncic. It has been far from perfect between the two players, but Porzingis remains optimistic about what he can accomplish alongside his Slovenian teammate.
“I think we can be one of the best duos in the league,” he noted, “I truly believe that.”
Doncic, 22, has averaged 25.0 points, 8.4 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 1.4 steals, and 0.7 blocks per game over 14 appearances this season. He returned to action against the Clippers after missing three games due to the left knee and ankle sprains.
“We’re communicating more. That’s extremely important,” said Porzingis on the improved relationship with Doncic, “We’re off to a good start. I love playing with Luka. It’s hard to find that type of talent to play with, so you have to appreciate that. He makes the game easier for everybody. He does take a lot of the attention off of everybody.”
“You just have to do it. Somebody has to take the first step,” he replied on what sparked more communication, “It’s all in the communication. It’s as simple as that. Problems arise when you don’t communicate about things, and you don’t talk about it. So, we’re learning those things.”
“It was different than when I played in New York,” he added recalling the three seasons at the New York Knicks, “I was being used differently. Playing alongside a great player like Luka, that changes the game. There were adjustments that I had to go through and figure out.”
“They complement each other,” said Cuban, “KP can create space. When Luka is not in there, KP can get closer to the basket and score for us. Defensively, he’s been amazing with blocking shots and running and cutting and we’re doing a lot more back-screen cutting. But I still don’t think KP has played his best basketball yet. I think he’s still getting comfortable.”
The Mavericks are currently fourth in the Western Conference behind the 10-7 start to the Regular Season.
Photo Credit: Getty Images