The Dallas Mavericks saw their season come to an end last week when they lost to the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 7 of their first-round NBA playoff series, forcing them to begin what will be a very interesting offseason full of decisions. Not only will they need to deal with Tim Hardaway Jr. becoming a free agent, but the Mavericks will have a lot to discuss about the future of Kristaps Porzingis.
Back in 2019, the Mavericks pulled off a huge trade to acquire Kristaps Porzingis, with Tim Hardaway Jr. just being an extension/add-on in the trade package, but now, it seems like Porzingis has become the “extra” as part of the “Tim Hardaway Jr. trade” in 2019.
Mavericks fans were fed up with the way Porzingis played during the playoffs and all season long, resulting in plenty of questions arising about the future of the former All-Star in Dallas. In his second season with the Mavericks, Kristaps Porzingis averaged 20.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and shot 37.6% from three-point range during the regular season, but after averaging just 13.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and shooting 29.6% from three-point range in the postseason, his future is in jeopardy.
Standing 7’3”, Porzingis should be one of the most dominant big men in the entire league, but at times, he looks like a guard trapped inside a big man’s body! Close to 38% of his total shots came from beyond-the-arc this season and in the playoffs, which is not a good look for someone who towers over virtually everyone on the floor.
When the Mavs first made the trade to bring Porzingis to Dallas, they thought that they were going to have one of the best “one-two punches” in the league for a long time to come with him and Doncic, and while Luka Doncic has certainly pulled his weight, Porzingis has not.
The biggest question for the Mavericks to potentially answer this offseason is how Kristaps Porzingis fits into the Mavericks future plans and right now, this is a question that is very hard to answer! The 25-year-old big man has three-years and $101.5M remaining on his contract, assuming that he would opt into his $36M player option for the 2023-24 season.
Not only do the Mavericks not want to pay him this kind of money over the next three years right now, but no other team in the league is going to want to pay him this kind of money either, especially if he is going to play the way he did this postseason! All of this talk about Porzingis’ play has created tension and frustration within the Mavericks and has specifically frustrated the Latvian big man, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
After the Mavericks lost to the Clippers in Game 7, Porzingis was asked about where he fits in with Dallas moving forward.
“Good question,” Porzingis stated as he took a few seconds to collect his thoughts. “How do I feel? I mean, I’m good. I tried to put in the work, tried to work hard. I do my part, listen to the coaches, what I’m asked to do, and that’s it.”
“I try to keep it simple for myself, so I’m not overthinking, and I try to focus on what I can control. That’s being a better basketball player, going into the offseason hungry. I want to get better physically [and] on the basketball court. I’m going to put that work in to get better, and then the rest of the stuff will resolve itself.”
Sources have told NBA Analysis Network that the market for Kristaps Porzingis is not strong at all right now. One league source stated that Dallas is going to have a hard time looking for a potential suitor.
“The Mavericks are absolutely going to entertain the idea of trading Kristaps Porzingis in the offseason, but nobody is going to be interested! He was close to a no-show in the playoffs this year and has not been the same player ever since he injured his left knee in 2018. For $30M+ a year, there are much better options than Porzingis league-wide.”
With there not being much interest in Porzingis as of right now, the Dallas Mavericks are expected to turn their attention towards the draft and free agency as of right now, but trading Porzingis is definitely going to be a storyline to watch develop in the offseason.
Our own Evan Massey named the Washington Wizards as a potential team that could show interest in Kristaps Porzingis this offseason, especially since they will be looking for a third “star” player to pair with Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal. While this would definitely be a solid place for Porzingis to go and play, Washington is already dangerously close to the hard cap and this trade would certainly push them over the edge in terms of luxury taxes.
Between reported friction with Doncic and Porzingis and the fact that the Latvian big man underperformed when his team needed him most this year in the postseason, it seems very likely that the Mavericks will look for ways to move on from Kristaps Porzingis in the offseason, but figuring out a way to move him will not be easy, nor fun for Dallas.