Mavericks owner Mark Cuban strongly denied trade rumors surrounding Kristaps Porzingis Tuesday morning that Dallas was, per Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, sniffing around to gauge the big man’s trade value. The Mavericks also reached out to the Golden State Warriors to determine their level of interest for a potential Porzingis deal, according to SNY’s Ian Begley.
Cuban dismissed the trade rumors surrounding Porzingis, telling The Athletic’s Tim Cato they were “not true,” and that “we have not discussed him with anyone.” The team owner then went on to elaborate on the rumors, which quoted an unnamed Western Conference executive who raised concerns of Porzingis’ defense.
“By the way, we are not happy that there is a supposed Western Conference executive ripping on one of our players,” Cuban told Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News. “There is no trade discussion. I think they just used it as a way to put out there what they think of KP.”
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First off, if a team was trying to “quietly” shop a player as the report suggests, of course it wouldn’t come right out and announce it to the public. It also wouldn’t be entirely surprising if Dallas was starting to consider dealing the former All-Star. While Porzingis’ stats are on par with what he averaged a season ago (20.5 points, 8.2 rebounds), his 3-point shooting has rebounded (35.2 percent) after struggling mightily in his return from meniscus surgery this season. Still, the issue that always remains with him is his health.
It also doesn’t help that the Mavericks actually perform better when Porzingis isn’t on the floor, especially on defense. When he’s on the bench, the Mavericks allow 11 fewer points per possession on defense while they score 4.3 points more per possession on offense. Since returning from his meniscus surgery, he hasn’t looked 100 percent and looks out of sorts on defense. He struggles to get into a proper stance and often moves like he’s stuck in sand.
Porzingis has had 13 injuries since entering the league in 2015, including an ACL tear that sidelined him for a season and a half, which came before he was traded to Dallas. He also suffered a meniscus tear in the postseason last year that kept him out of the Mavs’ final three games against the Clippers in the first round.
When healthy, he’s proven to be an offensive powerhouse for Dallas. He can knock down long-range 3s, and his pick-and-roll game with Doncic was reaching lethal levels toward the end of last season. But Porzingis has only played in 60 or more games in his career twice, and if Dallas can’t count on him to stay healthy then it raises the question of how useful he can actually be to a Mavericks team that is trying to build a championship contender around Doncic.
If the Mavericks are indeed starting to poke around on possibly trading Porzingis, what can they realistically get for him? He’s in Year 2 of a five-year, $158 million contract. Add that to his lengthy injury history, and that combination will scare most teams away. Dallas has invested far too much in Porzingis to ship him off this soon. These reports don’t necessarily mean a trade is imminent — and according to Cuban its not even being discussed. Still, this is something worth monitoring even past the trade deadline as the Mavericks think of what their long-term future with Porzingis looks like.