In addition to expressing optimism about Kristaps Porzingis‘ health and outlook for the coming season at the Mavericks‘ Media Day on Monday, head coach Rick Carlisle offered high praise for the team’s other cornerstone player.
“I wouldn’t trade [Luka] Doncic for anybody,” Carlisle said of the NBA’s reigning Rookie of the Year, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com (Twitter link). According to MacMahon, Carlisle also raved about Doncic’s ability to make the other four players on the floor better, comparing him to Hall-of-Famer Larry Bird.
Doncic, 20, immediately established himself as an impact player during his rookie season, averaging 21.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 6.0 APG in 72 games (32.3 MPG) for the Mavs. He’s also on one of the league’s most favorable contracts for a star player, with three years and $25.9MM left on his rookie deal. That contract will likely be followed up with a long-term, maximum-salary extension similar to the one Porzingis received from the team this summer.
In other words, Carlisle won’t have to worry about his young star being traded for “anybody” anytime soon. As MacMahon relays (via Twitter), Doncic told reporters today that he’s prepared for the pressure of assuming Dirk Nowitzki‘s place as the face of the franchise in Dallas.
“I’ve had pressure since I was 16,” Doncic said. “I like pressure.”