The Dallas Mavericks could make huge changes this summer following another first-round exit. With NBA trade rumors swirling, it seems Kristaps Porzingis is more than open to whatever comes.
Following the Mavericks’ Game 7 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, Porzingis was cryptic with reporters. When asked about his role and future with the team, he said he always tries to be as professional as possible but there is a mental battle and “whatever I do, it’s always something.”
Everything Porzingis says and does on the court is put under the microscope, that’s what happens when Mark Cuban publicly discloses that the Mavericks’ two stars have some on-court chemistry issues.
Now, more light has been shed on how Porzingis might really feel about the situation in Dallas.
“But Porzingis has been frustrated, often feeling more like an afterthought than a co-star as Doncic dominates the ball and the spotlight, sources told ESPN. Porzingis frequently made thinly veiled references during his postgame media availabilities, such as saying the “ball actually moved tonight” after high-scoring performances or stating that the offense didn’t involve him on low-scoring nights.”ESPN’s NBA insider Tim MacMahon on Kristaps Porzingis
It’s normal for players to be frustrated with their role after a heartbreaking loss, but Porzingis has seemingly not been happy for a while. After dominating in 2017-’18 with the New York Knicks, Porzingis demanded a trade in January 2019 after tearing his ACL a year prior.
Porzingis has shown flashes of the form that made him an NBA All-Star in 2018, enough to earn a $158.3 million contract extension. But injuries have also kept him from staying on the court consistently and his level of play fluctuates. That was apparent in the first round against the Clippers.
- Kristaps Porzingis stats (2021 NBA Playoffs): 13.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.3 spg, 29% from 3-point line
After combining 34 points in the Mavericks’ first two games in Los Angeles, Porzingis averaged just 11.6 points per game, shot 22.2% from beyond the arc and finished with a -31 net rating.
Dallas needs to make significant changes this offseason, moves that demonstrate to Luka Doncic this franchise is willing to build a foundation around him. With Rick Carlisle staying, there only becomes one other option.
Will the Mavericks trade Kristaps Porzingis?
Porzingis hasn’t earned a larger role based on his play and his latest playoff disappearing act won’t do anything to increase Doncic’s confidence in him next season. The end result, perhaps in everyone’s best interest, is a Porzingis trade.
Unfortunately for Dallas, that is far easier said than done. While they won the original blockbuster trade, largely by default, his value is declining with each passing season.
- Kristaps Porzingis contract: $31.65 million salary in 2021-’22, $33.83 million salary in 2022-’23 and $36 million player option in 2023-’24
Teams will still be interested in a 25-year-old, 7-foot-3 forward who can shoot 37% from 3-point range and averaged 20.1 points per game this season. But general managers are also well aware of Porzingis’s decline and the long-term durability concerns.
The contract is also a big issue, limiting the potential return Dallas could receive in a summer blockbuster.
Dallas listened to offers on Porzingis this year and will likely do so again in the offseason. Ultimately, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him traded in an effort to reshape a playoff-caliber roster around Doncic. Fans will just need to realize the return won’t be as great as they hope.