DALLAS - The reports that has the Dallas Mavericks "sniffing around'' and "kicking the tires'' and "quietly gauging the trade market for Kristaps Porzingis'' are not going away, ESPN the latest to suggest trade buzz, now in the form of "a perception among executives around the league is that he is available.''
The Mavs specifically deny the idea of them "shopping'' Porzingis, owner Mark Cuban specifically telling DallasBasketball.com that the rumors are untrue.
When this idea popped up a couple of weeks ago, there were already problems with it. Porzingis, 25, missed the Mavs’ first nine games this season and has battled nagging injury issues, missing a dozen of the Mavs' first 19 games. (He and Luka Doncic, by the way, will sit tonight, resting on the second night of a b-2-b. The GAMEDAY for at OKC is here.)
Who would want to trade for a hurt guy?
Bleacher Report has suggested that KP has been so bad that Dallas might essentially pay ballast to get somebody to take him. That is untrue. Cuban and company are traditionally patient while awaiting growth from players, and ...
Maybe, suddenly, that is paying off.
"I feel like I'm getting there," Porzingis said. "I still have to keep working. ... It's non-stop work, but I'm feeling better each day and each game, and I'm putting in the work. That just gives me the confidence that I can go out there and play and play freely.''
Following the mid-season 2019 trade with the Knicks, the Mavs entered this situation with Porzingis with a keen awareness of the injury history and with a deep belief that he is, as coach Rick Carlisle puts it, a "cornerstone'' player.
At what point do you give up on a 25-year-old "cornerstone'' with All-Star "Unicorn'' ability? Well, not this morning, one wouldn't think, as Dallas has won 11 of its last 14 games, including Wednesday against the Spurs, when Porzingis was terrific, with a 28-point, 14-rebound outing.
"My feeling is that he's trending up all the time," Carlisle said Wednesday. "There's more evidence of it tonight."
The Mavs are in the relationship business with the Porzingis family. And with the Doncic family. They have been for a long time. Kristaps now has a strong relationship he shares with Doncic.
If there is a way to trade Porzingis that results in a Luka-friendly return? That's feasible. There is no crime in Dallas exploring ways to acquire Bradley Beal, Victor Oladipo, DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and the like. (Cuban tells DBcom this week that the only trade he envisions before this month's deadline might be for a "game-changer star. See below.)
But "dumping'' KP? There is no value in doing that, there is no history of Dallas doing its business that way and there is every likelihood that Doncic would disagree with such a move. And with a little patience, even Porzingis' critics might decide to disagree.
"I'm looking forward to the second part of the season,'' KP said.