It’s been almost two weeks since Kristaps Porzingis took the court for the Dallas Mavericks. The team’s starting center has sat out for three games because of back tightness. While Porzingis’ ongoing injuries are concerning, the 7-foot-3 Latvian is also at the center of trade rumors.
This past week, Bleacher Report published a story saying that the Mavericks reached out to the Golden State Warriors to gauge their interest in Porzingis. Friday, for the first time, Porzingis reacted to the trade rumors.
“It kind of came out and it is what it is,” Porzingis said. “I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. I shouldn’t be too worried about it. It can only distract me about it at the end of the day. I try to focus on being here in the moment, being here day-to-day, putting in the work with my teammates and getting better as a basketball player at the end. That’s it.
“As I said, there’s not much I can do at this point. I’m just focused on playing, playing well, and getting wins again as a team.”
Soon after the report about Dallas potentially shopping Porzingis, both owner Mark Cuban and head coach Rick Carlisle refuted the claims.
“There’s no trade for Porzingis,” Carlisle said. “There’s nothing that’s been explored. I know Mark’s denied it. I’m denying it. He’s a Maverick, we expect him to be here.”
The trade rumors only compound the outside voices questioning whether Porzingis is a good fit for the organization as Luka Doncic’s running mate. Thanks to his ongoing injury issues, Porzingis doesn’t look like the player he was inside the NBA bubble, when he played brilliant basketball.
This season started with Porzingis on the sideline, recovering from meniscus surgery on his right knee, which caused him to miss the entirety of training camp. Now, after a week off because of debilitating winter weather in Texas, injuries sidelined Porzingis again.
“It’s always frustrating,” Porzingis said. “I haven’t had the best luck in that sense. I’ve had some injuries and I’m fighting through them and I’m coming back and then another little thing happens here and there. It’s been a little bit like that so far.”
Friday, however, Porzingis indicated that his return could be imminent. He went through a full practice, something the training staff wanted to see from him before clearing him to play.
“I felt pretty good. I hope I can play tomorrow,” Porzingis said. “It’s always tough to sit out and not be able to play. I just stay focused on the work I need to do to come back as soon as possible and to feel good on the court. That’s most important. When I’m out there, I want to help my team and play at the level I’m capable of.”
The Mavericks play the Brooklyn Nets—who are without Kevin Durant—on the road Saturday in a nationally televised game on ABC.
It hasn’t been an easy season for Porzingis or the Mavericks, for that matter. Getting him back and, most importantly, getting him healthy is a priority. Going forward, though, things between Porzingis and the organization might become icy if trade rumors persist. Porzingis, though, is focused on getting healthy.
“First thing that always comes to my mind is focus on the things you can control or affect,” Porzingis said. “If it’s not in my hands, there’s no point in worrying or putting any extra thought into it. Control what I can control. At the end, it’s a business and I don’t know what’s going on. What I can do is put in the work that I’m being told by professionals that I need to do to keep working toward to be where I need to be.”