Porzingis developed a plan more than a year ago with his brother and agent, Janis Porzingis, and physical therapist Manolo Valdivieso for the best way to recover from a torn ACL. That included sitting out a full season, even though it has been difficult to just watch.
“Oh my god, that’s the hardest thing for me to wake up on game days, go through shootaround with the team and then have to pick a suit to wear for the game,” Porzingis said. “… It’s so weird that I’m not able to — I am able to, but I’m not playing yet. It’s the game day, and I feel like it’s the game day, but you just pick a suit and you wear it and you’re there. And I try to be in the moment when I’m there with the team and help as much as I can without being able to be on the floor, but it’s very, very, very tough. Tougher than I expected.”
Porzingis confirmed that he is fully recovered from the injury to his left knee that derailed last season. He said he feels great and is doing all basketball-related activities except for playing in games. He adds that his power, explosiveness and lateral movement are all testing better now than they did before the injury.
The Mavericks gladly signed on to Porzingis’ plan when they traded for him at the end of January. The team added Valdivieso to its staff and has him working with its top training officials. Porzingis said he is “grateful” that the Mavericks have been so accommodating, which although he didn’t mention it, was a point of contention with the Knicks before the deal.
Porzingis participated in his first practice in more than a year on March 13 and said he is looking forward to more. He admits that he has been tempted to play since three months after the operation, but is focusing on what’s best for his future.
“I can feel the progress already, so it excites me even more,” he added. “It makes me even more eager to be out there on the floor. But I’m going to stick to what I have to stick to, stay patient, and when I’m back, I’m going to be back to 110 percent. At this point, I’ve matured a lot. I’m like, ‘This is the decision I have in my mind, and it’s the right decision.’ I don’t feel the same way every day, but I stick to it.”
Porzingis will be a restricted free agent this summer, but he already sounds committed to the Mavericks, who can offer him $158MM over five years. Porzingis said he wants to help the franchise end its three-year playoff drought and is ready to recruit free agents to Dallas.