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Kristaps Porzingis speaks with CBS 11’s Keith Russell

Porzingis discussed last season’s playoffs, his relationship with Luka, and more.

Dallas Mavericks v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Dallas Mavericks forward Kristaps Porzingis sat down with CBS 11’s Keith Russell and discussed a wide range of topics. One of the first things that came up was his usage in last year’s playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers. Porzingis didn’t mince words about how he felt.

“At first there were things asked of me that I wasn’t as comfortable doing but as who I am I said ‘okay.’ If it’s better for the team I’m willing to do whatever and we played a certain way and I was a lot on the perimeter and a part of my game wasn’t utilized I felt like.”

It was obvious last season Porzingis didn’t love the way he was being used in the seven game loss to the Clippers. He was essentially parked on the perimeter as a decoy or pressure relief valve, as former coach Rick Carlisle felt like Porzingis’ ability to space the floor was the best way to deploy the 7’3” forward.

To his credit, Porzingis did his job and said all the right things last season. But there’s no doubt his mobility was limited last year, especially on defense. Just watch this play. The Clippers went small against Porzingis, and he wasn’t healthy enough to make them pay in the paint or by rolling to the rim. Carlisle wasn’t trying to minimize Porzingis, but use him in the best way possible at the time to win.

Which brings us to post ups. Porzingis hasn’t been good on post ups since arriving in Dallas. But he feels like he’s improving this year. “Now I’m starting to work back into that rhythm where I feel good going up against smaller guys in the post and taking advantage of that.”

Except that’s not really the case. Yes, Porzingis is posting up more this season (4.5 per game, 22% of his possessions) than last (3.7 per game, 20% of his possessions). But he was actually more efficient on post ups last year, scoring .98 points per possession, as opposed to .93 ppp this year (editor’s note: this is per NBA stats. Second Spectrum, which we don’t have access to, has him at 1.25).

So Jason Kidd has enabled him to take more post ups, but not very many more, and his efficiency has fallen off, just a bit. But if he feels more involved in the offense and happy, that’s great. It helps him stay involved on defense.

Porzingis also delved into his injury history and the Mavericks’ managing his minutes. He praises the medical staff and said that he understands when they are being cautious with him. Then Porzingis dropped this cryptic line: “What I don’t agree with is that people that don’t know about that are getting involved into saying whether you’re playing or not.”

That’s an interesting comment that seems to be directed at the previous front office or Carlisle or both. We’ll likely never know exactly what he’s talking about.

Of course Russell asked him about his relationship with Luka, and Porzingis was effusive about his fellow star. He was very clear: “We’re having a good connection on and off the floor.”

Porzingis’ ankle injury against the Cleveland Cavaliers came at the worst possible time. “I’m probably playing the best basketball I’ve played in my career right now,” he said. “I’m still working my way toward getting into a really good rhythm.”

His time in Dallas has been turbulent for sure. Porzingis’ injuries and insistent on shooting inefficient shots hasn’t resulted in the success the Mavericks were hoping for when they traded for the big man. But if anything, Porzingis is saying all the right things: “If my habits are right then the result will come by itself.”

The Mavericks and their fans sure hope so.