Last night, after the Mavs defeated the Grizzlies in their first game in a week, a post went up on Bleacher Report saying that the team was “quietly gauging Kristpas Porzingis’ trade value.” It was interesting timing since Porzingis sat out the game with tightness in his back and the Mavs didn’t seem to miss him. That was especially true on defense, where by every metric the 7-foot-3 Latvian has been, and this is a technical term, absolute garbage this season. He can’t move laterally, can’t elevate around the rim, and lacks the lower body strength to hold his position on post ups and blockouts. (Offensively, he’s been a bit better of late, but still pretty regularly needs to shoot himself into a game which is not ideal.)
The Athletic’s Tim Cato followed the Bleacher Report story this morning, getting Mark Cuban to refute it. I agree with Tim’s main point: the Mavs more than likely will not trade KP this year or this summer. He’s not playing at his best right now, so there is probably a depressed market for his services, and when he starts playing better, it makes more sense to keep him. The bubble version of Porzingis is the ideal complement to Luka Doncic. I don’t doubt that they have brought his name up, because that’s what good front offices do. Also what some front offices do: leak that a team is doing that, to try to create dissension. That’s the game. The most alarming detail in the Bleacher Report story, to me, is that the Mavs are looking to try to get Andre Drummond from Cleveland. Unless it costs the team nothing in terms of players or draft picks (i.e. he gets waived and then signs here), put me down as a giant NO THANKS.
My main takeaway from all this: everyone needs to be patient. It was just sort of assumed that the Mavs would get a top-4 seed this season and Luka would either win the MVP or come extremely close. Both those might happen—so much is still in flux. But it might not happen until next year. Progress is not always a straight line pointing up. Setbacks happen, and the really great teams are forged in those fires.
In 2003, the Mavericks, led by the Big Three of Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, and Michael Finley, made the Western Conference finals against the Spurs. They fell in six games, and almost took it to seven, even though Dirk missed the last three games after hurting his knee. Man, if we had him we would have made the Finals. Maybe we would have won the championship. Just imagine what next year will be like.
The Mavs lost in the first round to the Sacramento Kings in five games.