If there is one player in the NBA that knows Kristaps Porzingis, it’s Tim Hardaway Jr. The eight-year veteran played with Porzingis in New York and was dealt with him by the Knicks to the Mavericks in 2019, and after signing a reported four-year, $72 million deal with Dallas this offseason, Hardaway Jr. will continue to play with Porzingis moving forward.
Last season, Porzingis battled injuries and was in and out of the lineup. He played 43 games in the regular season and averaged 20.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game, but in the playoffs, his numbers dropped to 13.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per contest.
Ultimately, the Mavericks would lose in the first round for the second straight season to the Clippers.
After GM Donnie Nelson and head coach Rick Carlisle decided to leave their positions at season’s end, Dallas added GM Nico Harrison and head coach Jason Kidd.
In the offseason, the Mavericks acquired young center Moses Brown in a trade, signed Reggie Bullock and Sterling Brown.
On Friday, the team introduced their new players and Hardaway Jr. at a press conference in Dallas.
According to Hardaway Jr., if the 26-year-old Porzingis is right, Dallas can compete and beat any team in basketball.
“I know KP,” Hardaway Jr. said. “I know he’s back in Latvia, busting his tail right now to get back to where he was before the injury when we were with the Knicks. I know how much he loves the game. I know how much he works, and he’s going to do whatever he can to get back to that level of mentality that he had. Injuries do play a part of the game, and we have to look at that as well.
“With him not really having his rhythm, or him probably not being that confident out there because of all of the surgeries and everything that he had to go through. I know what type of player he is. I know what he’s capable of, probably more than anybody in here, and once you get that type of KP back, I think we can beat anybody.”
Porzingis must have a more prominent role if Dallas wants to win. It’s incumbent upon Jason Kidd to devise a plan to get Porzingis more involved and Luka Doncic to be less ball-dominant next season. In addition, Porzingis has to stay healthy.
If KP is right, Dallas can compete with the top teams in the NBA. However, they still are probably not a championship team at this point.