The future officially is now for the Mavericks.
The team and prized acquisition and restricted free agent Kristaps Porzingis signed the dotted line on Friday with the 7-3 center/forward accepting a multiyear offer that will give him and 20-year-old Luka Doncic the chance to grow into cornerstones of the franchise. The deal was widely reported to be for four years at the maximum allowable salary under terms of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement.
Porzingis, 23, missed all of the 2018-19 season after knee surgery that cut short his 2017-18 season, in which he was named an all-star for the New York Knicks.
Porzingis had the option of signing a qualifying offer, but it didn’t take long for the team to come to terms with him on a long-term deal when negotiations were allowed to begin on July 1.
All contractual agreements were on hold until they could officially be signed anytime after 11 a.m. on July 6.
Porzingis is one of the most unique talents in the NBA with the ability to shoot 3-pointers and also have an impact around the rim both offensively and defensively. In 2017-18, he averaged 22.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 32.4 minutes per game before he was injured. He also hit 39.5 percent of his 3-pointers.
And, he’s still very young. He will turn 24 on Aug. 2.
The Doncic-Porzingis pairing should be the new look of the franchise for years to come. After 21 seasons with Dirk Nowitzki as the face of the franchise, perhaps now the Mavericks will have a two-headed face of the franchise. The Mavericks made re-signing their own young free agents — Porzingis, Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith and others — a top priority this summer.
Nobody can know for certain how well Porzingis will return from the knee injury. The Mavericks took an ultra-cautious approach after acquiring him in February, immediately saying that he would not play for the remainder of the season. When the 2019-20 season opens in October, it will be 20 months between regular-season games for Porzingis.
But assuming he returns to a form similar to what he flashed before the injury, the Mavericks clearly have a major piece for their present and future.
At the end of the season, coach Rick Carlisle said: “We got a trending young roster with two young stars in Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic. We’re going to be ready to go. Luka, Kristaps, (Tim) Hardaway, (Dwight) Powell, (Jalen) Brunson,(Justin) Jackson – all these guys we’re moving forward with – these are all very good pieces to a puzzle we’re going to continue to solve.”
“We’ve got a lot to be optimistic about, but there’s an amazing amount of work that needs to happen this summer.”
The Mavericks have missed the playoffs in three consecutive seasons, but management is optimistic that the pairing of Porzingis and Doncic will give the team the continuity and the talent to be much more competitive this year and in seasons to come.