Kristaps Porzingis curiously reveals he never planned to play this year
DALLAS — Kristaps Porzingis declined to elaborate on why he wanted out of New York, but revealed he never intended to come back this season.
At Monday’s introductory press conference at American Airlines Center, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said it’s “100 percent” certain Porzingis won’t play until next season, when he will be paired with fellow European stud Luka Doncic.
The Knicks previously had announced they would reevaluate Porzingis in mid-February and make a determination then whether he would return this season. Porzingis suggested he was not eager to come back.
That means he will have not played an NBA game in 20 months when he hits the court for Dallas next preseason. This week marks a full year since he last played a game. He suffered an ACL tear against Milwaukee on Feb. 6.
“That was the plan from the beginning, and we’re sticking to the plan,” Porzingis said. “Twenty months of not playing, I honestly expect some rust, [but] I’m a guy who visualizes a lot, how I play and watch a lot of film. Hopefully I’ll be quickly back to my rhythm and feel the game again.”
The Knicks had hoped he would play this season, but only if Porzingis were mentally and physically ready. Indications are the Mavericks also prefer he come back this season to get some playing time with Doncic, but are on board with his decision to wait as they begin a new relationship that proved treacherous for the Knicks’ brass.
Porzingis refused to elaborate on his desire to leave the Knicks, which came to light in a meeting held this past Thursday. Knicks president Steve Mills said Porzingis wouldn’t commit to signing with the team long term and requested a trade. Sources indicate Porzingis was frustrated by the league-worst losing and wondered whether it would change in the future.
Porzingis had posted to his Instagram story that “the truth will come out” and “the city deserves better than that.”
“Right now the situation is what it is,” Porzingis said. “I would rather just focus on what’s ahead of me than looking back. There might be a time when I go into more detail about that situation, but right now I just want to focus on my new team: the Dallas Mavericks.”
Porzingis also had refused to detail why he skipped the fateful exit meeting after the 2016-17 season that ultimately helped cost former Knicks president Phil Jackson his job.
Interestingly, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said he met with Porzingis’ brother/agent, Janis, for two hours Sunday night and mentioned him during the press conference. It shows how the Mavericks are already aware how vital it is to make Janis happy. He became a thorn in Jackson’s side and eventually the Mills/Scott Perry tandem could not reach him.
Janis, who made the decision for his brother to rehab in the offseason at Real Madrid, declined comment on him wanting out of New York. “It’s not about me,’’ Janis said.
When Porzingis was asked to clarify whether he would have played in a game this season in New York, Cuban interrupted and said the Knicks may have had their own visions on whether the 7-foot-3 Latvian would suit up.
“Whatever the plans in the previous organization isn’t really relevant at this time,” Cuban said. “Right now, it’s 100 percent for him not to play. What was in place prior isn’t relevant.”
Cuban also interrupted Porzingis when the former Knick was asked if he’s ready to sign long term with the Mavericks. Porzingis is a restricted free agent but there was a report stating he would sign a one-year deal and become an unrestricted free agent in 2020 and have his pick of the litter.
“I can answer that for you,’’ Cuban said. “Yeah, he is. Long term. I want [Porzingis and Doncic] together for the next 20 years.”
A reporter asked Porzingis if that were true and Porzingis softly replied, “We’re on the same page.”
The Knicks moved on from Porzingis without a commitment and are now focused on their two maximum salary slots that they will try to fill with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Porzingis’ left knee is now Dallas’ concern
“I feel great,’’ Porzingis said. “But we’re taking our time. There’s no rush. I’ve been patient this whole time and I’ll keep staying patient — which is one of the hardest thing for me to do.’’
The wait to see a Doncic/Porzingis pairing is on. Porzingis has known Doncic for several years beginning when they were both in the Spanish League.
“We’re both European players who went through similar routes and we both speak Spanish,’’ Porzingis said. “We clicked right away. That will translate on the court also. I really think we can be something special.’’