Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis represent the foundation of the Dallas Mavericks moving forward, but in a recent interview on 105.3 The Fan, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban made some curious comments about the relationship between the two superstars. "On the court they are fine," Cuban said on the K&C Masterpiece Show. "I mean, coaches coach, and coach kind of runs the show so everything gets worked out on the court. That's not to say there aren't dust-ups, because there are.
"I'd compare it to Jet and Dirk," Cuban went on. "If you remember, when we first got Jet, Dirk was not a fan. Dirk did not like him. And we lost in a playoff series because Jet made a mistake against [Steve] Nash and that just made it even worse. They weren't best friends at the beginning, but they grew to like each other and grew to be great friends and that's just part of the process when you've got young kids who are growing up. It took forever before Dirk and Jet did anything off the court together. A long time. Yeah, I mean, KP and Luka get along fine. It's just that they're different people. They like to do different things."
With Porzingis struggling through his second season in Dallas, this raised quite a few eyebrows. Not all star teammates are best friends, but for a team owner to acknowledge that so freely is very unusual. Generally, teams prefer to keep information like that private, and we saw why that is on Tuesday as Porzingis disputed Cuban's claims in an interview with Marca (as translated by Sportando).
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"I've never had any problems with my teammates off the court, I've always gotten along very well with them," Porzingis said in Spanish. "I don't know what Cuban was talking about. I try to be as professional as possible, do what I have to do and be a soldier for the team."
The Doncic-Porzingis on-court partnership has underwhelmed this season. The Mavericks outscore opponents by 1.5 points per 100 possessions when Doncic and Porzingis play together, but that number jumps to 5.2 when Doncic plays without Porzingis, according to Cleaning the Glass. Dallas has struggled defensively with the two of them on the court together, and Porzingis' limited mobility after a number of lower-body injuries has become more problematic.
Some tandems click instantly. The Mavericks saw that when Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash became best friends early in their careers. Some take time to blossom, like Nowitzki and Terry. And some just don't work, as the Mavericks learned with Jason Kidd and Jim Jackson. The Mavericks are hoping that Doncic and Porzingis fall into the second category, not the third.