According to the New York Times’ Marc Stein, the Dallas Mavericks and Kristaps Porzingis have agreed to a five-year, $158 million max deal at the opening bell of free agency.
The Mavericks engineered a blockbuster deal in January to acquire the 7-foot-3 Latvian from the New York Knicks in exchange for Dennis Smith Jr., expiring contracts in Wesley Matthews and DeAndre Jordan, and a pair of future first round picks, with the intention of inking him to a long-term deal this summer.
Porzingis, who hasn’t played since February of 2018, was blossoming into one of the game’s premier talents before going down with an ACL injury. He earned his first All-Star berth at 22 years old and averaged 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and shot 39 percent from three two seasons ago.
There was always the scenario that Porzingis played on a qualifying offer and became an unrestricted free agent next season, but given his injury history, that would have been a gigantic gamble. And according to Chris Mannix, Senior Writer at Sports Illustrated, Porzingis “forged a strong connection with Luka Doncic” and has “enjoyed his experience with Mark Cuban” in his brief time in Dallas.
Assuming he has no complications from his ACL injury, the Mavericks have two of the top talents in the league under 24 years old in Porzingis and Doncic.
“We obviously think Porzingis is a great young talent, similar in many ways to Dirk,” coach Rick Carlisle said on the Mavs’ flagship station 103.3 FM ESPN days after the trade. “This is kind of a Dirk-and-[Steve] Nash type of situation, only these guys are taller.”
Porzingis’ talent is undeniable, but he certainly comes with risks. To start, he’s only played in 186 of 328 total games since he entered the league in 2015. He participated in five-on-five practices toward the end of last season, but it was always part of the plan for him to sit the entire 2018-19 season to work on his biomechanics.
Porzingis also has pending legal issues stemming from a rape allegation that surfaced in April that has yet to be resolved. Additionally, the 24 year old was involved in an altercation at a Latvian club in May, though the Mavericks expressed no concern over the situation and believe Porzingis was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The off-court storylines notwithstanding, Porzingis and Doncic have the chance to be one of the most dynamic one-two punches in the league. Like Mavericks’ icon Dirk Nowitzki said in February, “If you have a chance to add a franchise-caliber player like Porzingis, you’ve just gotta go for it”.