DALLAS - Is it possible that what can fairly be characterized as a 2021 NBA season of disappointment for Dallas Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis can be chalked up to a “lack of evolution”? Mavs Donuts ...
DONUT 1: EVOLUTION "The game's evolving," Porzignis said as part of Dallas’ exit interviews following their playoff ouster at the hands of first-round winners the Los Angeles Clippers. “The way I was playing in New York, a lot of post-ups, barely any teams do those kinds of things anymore, so my game has to evolve and I have to find ways I can be effective."
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DONUT 2: MORE MOPING? As always with KP, it’s difficult to review his comments and knowing if he’s being responsible or introspective or deflective of criticism …
DONUT 3: QUOTABLE “It’s been an up-and-down year,” Porzingis said.
DONUT 4: THE RELATIONSHIP Porzingis is now a source of Mavericks questions after averaging just over 13 points per game in the Mavs opening-round loss - and after the increased volume of whispers about behind-the-scenes issues with his relationship with star Luka Doncic and others.
Doncic continued his in-public support for Porzingis.
"(Porzingis) is a great player," said Doncic. "I don't know what we're going to do next year with the whole roster. I think we have a couple of free agents. In the NBA, every year you have new teammates, so I don't know what's going to happen. But he's a great player. I think we've got to use him more."
DONUT 5: IN DEFENSE OF KP Yet, despite some passive play from Porzingis (and despite his frequent passive-aggressive postgame remarks over the course of the season), there really were not any issues about “evolution” during the regular season, when despite an injury-plagued campaign he averaged ….
And yet ... it didn't work.
DONUT 6: LET 'EM SCOFF Critics of the Mavs (and critics of our coverage of the Mavs) are going to scoff every time a KP trade concept floats to the surface.
Let 'em scoff.
Dallas will consider trading Porzingis. You can book that. Trade him to Cleveland for Jarrett Allen or trade him for Kemba Walker or call the Pacers and see what can be done? Those ideas, and many more, will be explored.
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Call 'em "pipe dreams'' if you wish. But the real basketball crime will occur only if Dallas blindly refuses to explore.
DONUT 7: LUKA'S VIEW "(Porzingis) is a great player," said Doncic. "I don't know what we're going to do next year with the whole roster. I think we have a couple of free agents. In the NBA, every year you have new teammates, so I don't know what's going to happen. But he's a great player. I think we've got to use him more."
DONUT 8: 'POST-UP PLAYS'?! Interestingly, while KP now broaches issues like “evolution” and “post-up plays,” the fact is, coach Rick Carlisle designed this offense in large part being mindful of the unique abilities - beyond just being a post-up center - of the 25-year-old from Latvia.
Carlisle is willing to re-design it further.
"(Porzingis) is a very unique player," said Carlisle. "I just think that there are so many things that he can do at 7-3 that very few guys in the history of the game that I’ve ever seen can do. We’ve got to keep studying our offense in ways to bring more of those positive things out.”
DONUT 9: WHAT LUKA NEEDS One part of Dallas' vision certainly includes supplementing Doncic with talent in a way that doesn't eliminate KP. Cuban addresses that below.
And yes ... that should be explored, too. Of course.
DONUT 10: WHAT KP NEEDS? But how many stars (or supposed stars) can be catered to?
During the exit interviews, Porzingis made no real noise about being unhappy in Dallas, and Luka Doncic and Carlisle said the right things, too. GM Donnie Nelson actually went overboard in the direction, continuing the organization’s habitual care when it comes to KP’s feelings, Donnie (oddly) suggesting that it’s Luka who must evolve and “mature.”
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Maybe, rather than nurturing KP, somebody around here should politely ask him to grow up and do his second-banana job? Make him understand that it's nobody's fault that Luka has emerged as the better player? Guide him to the recognition that playing with Luka does not subtract from his promise but rather is the NBA gods' gift to him?
DONUT 11: HOW LONG? Doncic, who Carlisle proclaims is “one of the top five players in the NBA,” probably will "mature'' and "learn.''
But Porzingis has been in Dallas for three years; isn’t that ample time for him to have done the same, to have learned what the system asks from him?
DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD Porzingis is healthy, is set to make $30 million in the 2021-22 season, and is willing to “evolve.” There will be trade discussions here, but there is no doubt of one thing: The Mavs’ task of building a title contender would be made much easier by a sincere desire on the part of KP to fit, to grow, to mature and to “evolve.”
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