DALLAS - I've been doubted before,'' says Kristaps Porzingis, and that is unquestionably true.
"I like it,'' he adds about being doubted via a social-media message aimed at his critics, and ...
I'm not completely certain that is true.
Dallas Mavericks big man Porzingis is once again feeling the heat from home-town fans and media for underperforming and, frankly, not quite fitting in. New York Knicks followers know exactly what I'm talking about here - and now Mavs watchers do as well.
It's not that some of his 2020-21 numbers are lacking; the 7-3 Latvian in fact ....... But the injuries continued to get in the way of his work, and then came a postseason first-round NBA Playoffs loss to the Clippers in which he was not a factor, and of course all along has been the behind-closed-doors lack of chemistry with superstar teammate Luka Doncic.
KP does not tend to "prove people wrong'' when things go awry; more often he seems to pout and mope and offer fake-contemplative passive-aggressive post-game answers to the media.
Of course, the maturation of Luka and KP as a winning pair would go a long way to curing the illness.
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Mavs owner Mark Cuban has stated that he believes such conflict is not abnormal, and "Tony Cubes'' may very well be right here. One of the advantages that this owner's style offers him: He sits close to the bench. He asks. He listens. He watches. He acts.
What action will Cuban and the Mavs take with Porzingis going forward? A new regime is in place, and it is not yet known what first-time GM Nico Harrison and freshly-minted Mavs coach Jason Kidd think of KP. But this is certain: Trading KP - and those rumors understandable are not going away - is in most cases not as optimal, especially with the questions surrounding him, as keeping him and letting Cuban be right about the trade that brought him here, and letting Porzingis be right about his enthusiasm regarding the challenges to come.
Can KP make this work with Luka? Can "The Unicorn'' expand his offensive game in ways that did not unfold under departed coach Rick Carlisle? Can he return to being a defensive force? Can the 25-year-old former All-Star stay healthy?
Porzingis is accustomed to being doubted, it's true. It would be one of the 2021-22 NBA season's top stories if he and the Mavs are able to shut up the doubters ...
And, along the way, "like'' doing so.
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