Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis were not the closest friends when playing together for the Dallas Mavericks. No matter how the two denied any rift or locker room tension, it showed in their body language that their friendship was nothing more than a professional one. Dorian Finney-Smith's comments hint at the truth behind the team chemistry then and now.
"There's no jealousy now"
DFS was asked what's working for them post-Kristaps Porzingis era, and he revealed that the team is more committed to defense than when they have a rim-protecting unicorn.
"(Kidd) is making us talk a lot more, letting us figure it out, asking questions and letting guys speak up. I feel like we've been holding each other accountable this year, and as you can see, I feel like on our team there's no jealousy now. We're playing great basketball, and even when things aren't going together, we're talking to each other and staying together." via Sport Illustrated
The keyword there is "jealousy." That word could be applied to anyone in the team, but it could also apply to Doncic and Porzingis. It's no secret KP wanted to get more involved in offense rather than shoot spot-up 3s. And to be fair, he wasn't maximized by former coach Rick Carlisle either, the way he was utilized during his New York Knicks days. On the other hand, Doncic blossomed into a superstar in the league, earning All-Star berths and first-team All-NBA selections along the way.
KP and Luka have both said there was no rift or tension between them. Meanwhile, the Dallas Mavericks downplayed the rumors of a rift between their all-stars and called them "dustups." Porzingis was signed to become Doncic's main support, but it didn't happen. He never got any rhythm because he was sidelined all the time. The plays on this video showed Doncic's level of trust in his starting center.
Mavs looking better without KP
Maybe the KP experiment didn't work out, and it's not anyone's fault. Porzingis failed to rediscover his level pre-ACL injury, and Luka didn't trust his teammate enough. Now that the Mavericks have Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans, the team is playing a lot better, and in the words of DFS, they communicate a lot better.
Since the year started, Dallas's win-loss record stands at 26-8. After the KP trade to Washington Wizards, the Mavericks are 8-2. There's a clear winner in that trade deal as early as now. If the Mavericks make it past the first round, the deal could be considered one of the best in the franchise's history. They were able to get assets and address their weaknesses without sacrificing much.
In fairness to Kristaps and Luka, they have not said anything that could add fuel to the rumors. Instead, they stayed professional throughout their partnership. Sometimes, a breakup is needed so both parties can grow. The Mavericks are killing it right now without KP but here's to hoping the Latvian finds success with his new team.