After several days of talking about them, the new Dallas Mavericks finally arrived. Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee, and Trey Burke all answered questions from a barrage of media more than triple the size of a typical home game.
Porzingis answered the first question about the nature of his relationship with Luka Doncic. He said the two first met when they were both playing in Spain before Porzingis came to the NBA. During his initial rehab for the ACL tear Kristaps went to Spain and trained with Real Madrid while Doncic still played for the club.
As expected, most of the questions were directed towards Porzingis and reporters were just trying to get an initial feel on the two biggest questions facing the Mavericks right now: will Porzingis play at all this season, and would he sign a long term deal with the Mavericks in the summer?
Early in the press conference Porzingis was asked if he would sign a long term deal with Dallas in free agency this summer. The Latvian hesitated and Mark Cuban grabbed the microphone.
“I can answer that for you,” Cuban interjected. “Yeah, he does.”
Everyone chuckled at Cuban’s interjection, including Porzingis. The reporter who initially asked followed up with Kristaps to see if it was true.
“Listen, we’re on the same page, don’t even ask,” Porzingis replied while smiling.
After that exchange Cuban added that the deal would be long term. At first glance these remarks didn’t come across as genuine answers. They came off as Cuban joking around the issue instead of answering it earnestly.
When the trade was initially announced Porzingis talked about how he wanted to get to know the organization and his teammates before he decided on what would happen in free agency.
That process, according to Porzingis, started by the Mavericks welcoming him with open arms from his first day with the team. Dallas made it easy for Kristaps to come in and focus solely on basketball and getting healthy. The young Latvian said that’s exactly what he was looking for in a new destination and described the relationship with the team as “so far so good.”
In terms of the rehab process, we learned the plan with the Knicks was for Kristaps to sit out the entire season but for them to re-evaluate his progress in mid-February.
Porzingis said he felt great and springy during practice today, but Cuban would later note that there are additional factors to consider in his return to the court outside of how he feels. Dallas has said both that Porzingis definitely won’t play this season and also back tracked saying they will play it by ear, leaving the door open just a crack.
During the press conference Mark Cuban noted the Knicks timeline “isn’t relevant anymore,” which might mean the young Latvian is healthier than initially thought. Nothing is set in stone but if Casey Smith and the Mavericks medical team give the all-clear it will be difficult for Dallas to stay on the safe side by keeping Porzingis on the sidelines.
In a press conference that didn’t reveal much, Mavericks fans learned that Porzingis likes what he sees so far with the team and, if Mark Cuban is to be believed, the Unicorn wants to stay in Dallas for the long haul.
Regarding his health, little more information will come out until Porzingis is re-evaluated in a few weeks.
Initial signs should encourage Mavericks fans that their team made a smart move buying low on a player that could be their second star with Luka Doncic for years to come.