Before the February NBA trade deadline, the Dallas Mavericks engaged in a shocking deal with the New York Knicks that enabled them to pair Luka Doncic with Latvian center Kristaps Porzingis. Most people believe that the Mavericks gave up too many trade assets for a player who is still recovering from an ACL injury and set to become a restricted free agent next summer. However, since the blockbuster deal, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban expressed strong confidence that they can convince Porzingis to stay long-term in Dallas, adding that his tandem with Doncic could soon bring the Mavericks back to title contention.
According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, the Mavericks are planning to offer Kristaps Porzingis a five-year, $158 million contract next summer. Lots of things can happen between now and the 2019 NBA free agency, but it seems like Porzingis doesn’t see himself going elsewhere. Porzingis may not be able to return to the court in the 2018-19 NBA season, but he already started making plans for his future with the Mavericks. Porzingis said that his first goal as a Maverick is to help them end their playoff drought.
“For me, personally, the goal is to take that first step at least and make the playoffs,” Porzingis said. “I want to experience that. I want to get that first feel. I understand that we’re not going to win a championship in one year, but that is the end goal. But in my mind, we have to take that first step: make the playoffs, see how far we can get in the playoffs, get that first experience, get that first taste. Then take the next step and make the right moves towards that next step.”
“This is the decision I have in my mind, and it's the right decision,” Kristaps Porzingis told ESPN about sitting out the rest of the season. “I don't feel the same way every day, but I stick to it." On his recovery and future: https://t.co/1oVXCGQxSJ
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) March 24, 2019
Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic are yet to play a single game together, but it is easy to understand why the Mavericks are very optimistic about their future. From the time he set foot in the NBA, Doncic has immediately made a huge impact and as of now, he’s emerging as the top favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award. Meanwhile, before suffering an ACL injury, Porzingis was already establishing an All-Star caliber performance, averaging 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks on 43.9 percent shooting from the field and 39.5 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
The Porzingis-Doncic tandem will undeniably make the Mavericks an exciting team to watch in the 2019-20 NBA season, but Dallas still needs to surround them with quality players in order to have a strong chance of earning a playoff spot in the deep Western Conference. The Mavericks have created salary cap space when they traded Harrison Barnes to the Sacramento Kings before the February NBA trade deadline. Though he will also be hitting the free agency market, Porzingis said that he plans to be active in recruiting free agents to sign with the Mavericks next summer.