As we go deeper into this year’s playoffs, the offseason chatter around teams that were eliminated earlier than expected naturally starts to brew, and despite being the underdog in their first-round match-up the Dallas Mavericks are now under the NBA microscope of the trade and rumor machine of the league after losing to the Los Angeles Clippers in seven games.
Why is that the case? Well, it’s due to the meteoric rise of Luka Dončić in this year’s postseason. Doncic torched a team that had arguably the two best wing defenders in the league and did in impressive fashion, so much so that all of the blame fell on to his alleged co-star Kristaps Porzingis. When asked about his role on the team after a frustrating series, KP had this to say as per ESPN’s Tim McMahon.
“I sometimes feel like more of an afterthought than a co-star.” - Kristaps Porzingis as reported by Tim McMahon
This triggered much dialogue amongst NBA analysts and the conclusion seems to be unanimous, it’s time Dallas moves away from the Luka-KP pairing. Luka has arrived and his championship window has officially opened, with his great performance in the first round against an elite team in the Clippers, it is a foregone conclusion that the Mavericks need to get Luka some help immediately. The best way to make a big change? Look for takers for Kristaps Porzingis and try to land a second star.
This is easier said than done of course, as the Latvian once dubbed The Unicorn seems to now be a shell of the player that was once a force on both ends of the floor as New York Knick. Many have called out his lack of mobility and inability to take advantage of mismatches in the post as the reason for his substandard play as a Maverick and with him being owed 100M over the next 3 years, it will be a tough sell.
However, one can choose to look at it as a pure chemistry issue, and perhaps KP’s substandard play is brought about by a perceived lack of opportunity with Luka Doncic holding the ball for much of the Mavs’ possessions. Perhaps, a team with a more free-flowing offense like the Golden State Warriors would be the ideal situation for KP, and since you can’t swap KP for a second-star maybe it’s time to look at securing some elite veteran role players to help the Mavs become more competitive in the playoffs.
Though the Warriors might not even consider this trade, think about what Draymond Green could do for the Mavs as the roller after screening for Luka at the top of the key. If Dray made Jordan Poole look like Klay Thompson at times, imagine what he could do for players like Jalen Brunson and Tim Hardaway Jr. Throw in the aforementioned Poole to make the money work and you might have a trade that actually benefits both teams for once. KP gets a fresh start and Dray can help elevate the existing roster of the Mavs to play at the championship level they want to eventually be at.
In Golden, State Porzingis will still not be able to feel like the co-star he believes he is, but both the numbers and the eye test seem to point toward a decline due brought about by a shaky injury history. He may never be a co-star again but he certainly will not be an afterthought. As the old saying goes “winning changes everything” and with the Warriors, they could be doing the type of winning that will make him forget about his difficult time in Dallas, but with Luka in the same conference flanked by some savvy veterans with championship experience, the Dallas Mavericks could be the force to reckon without west.