As usual, there's no shortage of drama in the NBA late in the season with a plethora of storylines. Kyrie Irving is now able to be back on the floor with Kevin Durant in Brooklyn after Mayor Adams lifted the vaccination mandate in New York City. Lebron James and the Lakers are fighting for their playoff lives in Los Angeles. The arms race at the top of the east between first place Miami, who almost fought each other on the court recently, new look Philadelphia with James Harden joining Joel Embiid, ho-hum defending champion Milwaukee, and of course Jayson Tatum's freakish ability in Boston.
In the West the Dallas Mavericks in their new reincarnation are playoff bound, and everyone who knows anything about basketball will know Luka Doncic in the playoffs is must-see-tv. But what happened to the old duo that had been highly touted just 3 short (or long these days) years ago. That Euro-combo with Luka and Kristaps Porzingis. Our contributor Landon Buford tells us what each player had said since the breakup, including if its possible to have an international player as the face of the NBA.
A little over three years have passed since the Dallas Mavericks elected to trade for Kristaps Porzingis, a budding star buried under the drama and misery that was the New York Knicks.
The trade would form a tandem of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis for two and a half seasons, which saw the Mavericks make the playoffs in the last two, only to be eliminated by the Los Angeles Clippers both years. Overall the duo fell largely short of what Mark Cuban and company though it could be.
Last month at the trade deadline, the Dallas elected to trade Kristaps Porzingis to the Washington Wizards. They opted instead for a talented wing player in Spencer Dinwiddie, and 3 point shooting big man Davis Bertans, to pair with their perpetual MVP contender Doncic.
After the trade Luka was asked about Porzingis, and he shared that he will be missed.
“Obviously, we’re going to miss KP,” Doncic said, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “We were building something great here. It didn’t obviously work out. I wish him the best, and we’ve got two new guys who are welcome. Bertans is a great shooter. Dinwiddie can put the ball on the floor, and he can score. The NBA is a business.
“He went through a lot with the injuries. I think this year, he was way better. Like I said, the NBA is a business, and I wish him the best in the future.”
Porzingis was hurt quite a bit throughout his time in Dallas. Including in that second playoff series against the Clippers, that went down to 7 games. Still that didn't fracture the relationship between Luka and KP as many originally thought.
In a recent post-game interview with Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson, Porzingis sang his former teammates praises. Porzingis was asked about the possibility of Doncic being the face of the NBA once LeBron James retired.
“He has the talent and the potential. He is putting up incredible numbers, playing at an incredible right now, Porzingis shared.
“He might as well [and] there a few guys that are playing incredible Ja Morant, Tatum has been playing well recently. Luka is Luka and hopefully Zion is back healthy. He’s an animal and incredible whenever he’s playing, so there are a lot of young guys that are super talented. So, it’s a possibility.”
Mark Cuban told me last November that he could see an international player as the face of the NBA.
“Yeah, think it’s already in the process of happening because who gets the sneaker deals. That drives part of it, who get the commercials that drives a big chunk of it, who has the personality and charisma that drives a big chunk of. We live in a global world,” said Cuban.
“When kids go on Tik Tok they don’t do nationality check is it fun, engaging, and compelling. Do they want more of it, so where it is Luka, KP or whoever, but Luka is obviously on that path and if Luka’s shoe comes out and that is the shoe to have there no denying it at that point.”
This season for the Mavericks, Luka Doncic is averaging a video game like numbers; 27.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 8.6 assists per game.
It would be interesting to see how the masses would feel to have an international player as the face, or the best player in the league. What say you?