As Luka Doncic started to show his superstar potential as a rookie in Dallas, the Mavericks decided to accelerate their rebuild and try to get him a co-star immediately, trading for Kristaps Porzingis in a blockbuster trade with the Knicks. Porzingis didn’t play that year as he rehabbed an injury, but still was given a max extension that summer with the idea that he and Doncic would create a formidable tandem between a big guard and a versatile, stretch big.
However, the idea on paper ended up being better than what they put together on the court, and the duo lasted just 2.5 years together before Porzingis was traded to the Wizards ahead of the deadline in 2022. In theory, they should’ve complemented each other well, but Porzingis still had his eyes on being a top star and the young Doncic wasn’t willing to cede much of his spotlight, leading to the two butting heads.
In a recent sitdown on Old Man and the Three with J.J. Redick, who spent a couple months with the pair in Dallas, Porzingis admitted that “maturity and communication” a big role in why he and Doncic didn’t work, taking plenty of the blame himself for not being willing to embrace the role he was being asked to take on.
.@kporzee shares the reasons why it didn’t work out in Dallas.
— TheOldMan&TheThree (@OldManAndThree) December 6, 2023
“It’s a big mix of things,” Porzingis said. “Maturity, for sure. Again, I’m talking about what I could’ve done better. And then I wasn’t that much into analytics and numbers. Like if somebody I think at that stage of my career had presented to me in the right way and said, ‘This is what we need to do. This is what we need from you. You’re going to be way more effective doing this.” Like kind of explain it to me better, I think that would’ve made a difference a little bit.”
“Do you think there was a young bull dynamic with you and Luka?…Like a pissing contest?,” Redick asked.
“Um, early on for sure,” Porzingis admitted. “But, I think we both tried to make it work, you know. It’s just, I think communication, maturity on both of our parts should’ve been better.”
Redick then offered an anecdote about the tensions on the bench after Luka got pulled in a game in Memphis, where Rick Carlisle told the team to stop acting like babies and Porzingis said to tell Luka to stop acting like a baby, which Rick did, raising eyebrows from Redick. It’s only been a two years since Porzingis left Dallas, but it seems he already has seen some growth in how he views his role on a winning team, embracing a secondary role in Boston alongside Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. The Celtics have been the beneficiaries of the poor experience Porzingis had in Dallas, and a bit of a needed reassessment of his standing in the NBA hierarchy.
The Mavs, meanwhile, are still trying to build the right team around Doncic, who may not quite be in the same reflective space as Porzingis when it comes to how best to sacrifice to win just yet.