In February of 2019, the Dallas Mavericks made a huge splash by acquiring Kristaps Porzingis from the New York Knicks in a blockbuster trade. Two-plus years later, it's safe to say that things have not quite gone to plan.
Porzingis' health has been the primary problem. Various ailments, including a torn meniscus in the first round of the 2020 playoffs, limited him to just 100 combined games in his first two seasons in Dallas. When he was on the floor, his play was inconsistent and generally underwhelming. By the playoffs last season he was essentially a seven-foot floor spacer instead of a focal point.
As Porzingis and the Mavs faltered, trade rumors started to pop up. But now, in an interview with NBA.com, owner Mark Cuban says the team never considered trading the big man.
"That's not true," Cuban said. "Why would I do that at all? Trades like that, you always end up further behind. When you trade a superstar, you never get the best end of it. I've always believed that KP hasn't played his best basketball yet. Now you're seeing why we didn't trade him. He's a great player. He's a good dude. All of my experiences with him have been positive, so why would we do that? But that's NBA Twitter and that's Mavs Twitter. That's what they do. They're probably trying to trade Luka [Doncic] right now."
Whether Porzingis is actually a star at this point is a debate for another time, but Cuban is right that when you give up the most talented player in a trade you pretty much never win that transaction in the short term. And, to his credit, he has previously denied reports that the Mavericks were interested in trading Porzingis.
But for all he's said publicly, it's hard to imagine that the Mavericks never at least explored the possibility of a trade. Luka Doncic has come in and established himself as one of the best players in the league. The Mavericks should be considering every possibility to improve the team around him, including trading Porzingis if necessary.
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In any case, Porzingis is still in Dallas and will be for the foreseeable future. He's put up big numbers recently, averaging 23.1 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game on 50.4 percent shooting from the field, and 37.5 percent from 3-point land over his last eight games.
But during that stretch, the Mavs are just 4-4 and have been much better with him off the floor, especially on the defensive end. All told, he has a minus-13.6 net rating differential in those games. While this is just a small sample size, it continues a trend from last season when they were also better off with Porzingis sitting.
That's not what you want from one of your supposed best players.