Kristaps Porzingis

Injury/Protocol Updates: Porzingis, Schröder, Graham, O. Porter

Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis (back) hasn’t played since February 14, but sounds likely to return on Saturday vs. Brooklyn after going through a full practice on Friday, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.

Porzingis also addressed the trade rumors that surfaced this week, telling reporters he’s not sure what’s happening “behind the scenes,” and that it’s out of his control. Team owner Mark Cuban and other members of the Mavs organization adamantly denied discussing Porzingis with any other teams.

“I shouldn’t be too worried about it,” Porzingis said. “It can only distract me at the end of the day. I try to focus on being in the moment, being here day to day and putting in the work with my teammates and getting better as a basketball player.”

As Porzingis readies for his return to court, here are a few injury- and protocol-related updates on other players:

  • After missing four games due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, Lakers guard Dennis Schröder has been cleared to return and is back in the starting lineup on Friday night, tweets Jovan Buha of The Athletic.
  • Hornets guard Devonte’ Graham is out for a fourth consecutive game tonight due to a sore left knee, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link). Head coach James Borrego acknowledged earlier in the week that Graham may not be able to return prior to the All-Star break.
  • The back spasms that have kept Bulls forward Otto Porter Jr. on the shelf for the last 12 games will keep him sidelined through the All-Star break, head coach Billy Donovan said on Friday, per Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. The team also isn’t expecting Lauri Markkanen (shoulder) back until sometime after the break.

Knicks Notes: Rivers, Drummond, Schedule, Porzingis

Veteran guard Austin Rivers was excited to join the Knicks as a free agent back in November, but his first year in New York hasn’t played out as he envisioned so far. After getting a late start to the season due to a groin injury, Rivers has now fallen out of the rotation entirely following the acquisition of Derrick Rose.

Rivers, who said he heard rumors even before the season that the Knicks could eventually trade for Rose, referred to his situation as “tough.” But with the team outperforming preseason expectations, he’s focused on staying positive — even if his own future remains unclear as the trade deadline approaches.

“As long as I’m here, I’m here,” Rivers said, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. “I can’t control if I’m traded today, tomorrow or the next day. What I can control is how I am as a player and what I can bring to this team every day. That’s being ready at all times no matter if my name is called or not and to help the young, young guys be ready to play. I’ll just continue to be ready to play here as long as I’m here, for however long.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • The Knicks are “analyzing” whether to attempt to trade for Cavaliers center Andre Drummond, a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post. Drummond’s $28.75MM salary diminishes his value as a trade chip, but the Knicks still have approximately $15MM in cap room and wouldn’t have to match the big man’s full salary. Berman adds that the Cavs’ asking price is believed to be modest, which makes sense, since the club only gave up a second-round pick and expiring contracts for him a year ago.
  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic explores how the Knicks’ second-half schedule will affect their chase for a playoff spot, noting that weathering the six games at the start of the second half will be crucial, since they could help determine the team’s approach to the trade deadline. That six-game stretch includes games against Brooklyn, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia (twice).
  • In a separate story of The Athletic, Vorkunov and Tim Cato revisit the Kristaps Porzingis trade, which the Knicks and Mavericks made in January 2019. According to Cato, Dallas still feels strongly that it won the deal, especially given the way Tim Hardaway Jr. has played over the last two years. However, Vorkunov suggests it hasn’t been a total disaster for New York, given Porzingis’ ongoing injury issues and his up-and-down play, plus the fact that the Knicks could still make good use of the two first-round picks they’re owed.

Western Notes: Porzingis, Mavs, Cousins, Mulder, Kings

The Mavericks have put on a full-court press in downplaying reports from Bleacher Report and suggesting that they’d gauged Kristaps Porzingis‘ potential value on the trade market. Team owner Mark Cuban sent messages to beat reporters on Tuesday denying that the team had discussed Porzingis with anyone and expressing displeasure with at least one of the anonymous quotes in the Bleacher Report story.

Additionally, as Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News reports, multiple other key members of the organization disputed the idea that Porzingis might be a trade candidate. Townsend says he was told that the “pat answer” president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson gives to teams asking the Mavs about trades is that Luka Doncic and Porzingis are off the table.

According to Townsend, he was also “emphatically” told that the Mavericks haven’t initiated discussions with any franchise about a Porzingis trade, and that when one team did inquire about the big man, “the answer was a quick no.”

When a team swiftly and emphatically denies a report about a rumored trade discussion, it’s sometimes the case that the report got some details wrong, or was altogether false. However, in this instance, multiple reputable reporters had similar stories, and the Mavs’ insistence that they’d never deign to consider a Porzingis trade feels a little over the top, given his injury history, his contract, and his good-but-not-great production.

While I don’t expect the Mavericks to actually trade Porzingis this season or even in the offseason, it’s not unreasonable to assume the team is doing some damage control here and won’t consider the former lottery pick completely off-limits going forward.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Although the Mavericks have had on-and-off interest in DeMarcus Cousins for years and could use some rebounding help, Dallas isn’t considered a viable landing spot for the veteran center, who is currently on waivers, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.
  • Warriors guard Mychal Mulder had been viewed as a candidate to be released today, before his full-season salary became guaranteed, but Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link) hears that Mulder isn’t going anywhere for now. The 26-year-old has another non-guaranteed season on his deal, so Golden State will retain some flexibility with him this offseason if he remains on the roster.
  • In spit of the Kings‘ eight-game losing streak and Tyrese Haliburton‘s increased production (17.1 PPG and 5.4 APG on .529/.485/.778 shooting in his last 11 games), head coach Luke Walton has no plans to change the starting lineup and insert the rookie guard, writes James Ham of NBC Sports California.

Western Notes: Porzingis, Spurs, Hollins, Azubuike

Having disputed a Bleacher Report story that indicated the Mavericks have gauged the trade market to get a sense of Kristaps Porzingis‘ value, team owner Mark Cuban also took exception to a specific part of Jake Fischer’s report.

Fischer cited one Western Conference executive who described Porzingis as looking like a “scarecrow” on defense and who added, “I’m not sure the guy can guard anybody.” That quote didn’t sit well with Cuban, who expressed his displeasure to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link).

“We are not happy that there is a supposed ‘Western Conference exec’ ripping on one of our players,” Cuban said. “There is no trade discussion. I think they just used it as a way to put out there what they think of KP.”

Here’s more from around the West:

  • There’s no exact timeline for the return of the five Spurs players who are sidelined due to the health and safety protocols, head coach Gregg Popovich said on Monday night. “Each one is a little bit different,” Popovich said, per Tom Osborn of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). “It depends on the testing they do. So, I think a few more days, the quarantine period ends, but then there are a couple more days of more tests to see how it has affected them.”
  • Lakers assistant Lionel Hollins missed Monday’s game for personal reasons and isn’t traveling to Utah for Wednesday’s game either, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
  • The Jazz have recalled Udoka Azubuike from the G League, according to RealGM’s transactions log. The rookie center recently suffered a severe ankle sprain while playing for the Salt Lake City Stars and isn’t expected to be available anytime soon, so it seems he’ll move to the NBA squad while he continues his recovery.

Cuban Denies Mavs Gauging Trade Market For Porzingis

The Mavericks have “quietly gauged” the potential trade market for Kristaps Porzingis as they continue to evaluate whether he can be the team’s second star behind Luka Doncic, league sources tell Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

“They’ve kicked the tires on everybody on their roster that’s not named Luka,” a person with knowledge of the situation told Fischer. “You know (president of basketball operations) Donnie (Nelson); they’re always tinkering.”

Mavs owner Mark Cuban disputed the report, telling Tim Cato of The Athletic that his club has “not discussed (Porzingis) with anyone.” However, Ian Begley of backs up Fischer’s reporting, citing sources who say Dallas reached out to the Warriors to gauge their interest in the big man.

As Fischer explains, Porzingis’ ever-growing injury history and his struggles on defense are possible concerns for the Mavericks. Still, it sounds like if Dallas is discussing Porzingis at all, it’s more about the team doing its due diligence or considering hypothetical scenarios than actually looking to move on from the 25-year-old. Cato says it’s “incredibly unlikely” the former No. 4 overall pick will be traded this season or in the summer.

According to Fischer, the Mavericks are believed to be more interested adding a center who can complement Porzingis in the frontcourt, such as perhaps Andre Drummond. Dallas would like a big man with “physicality, rebounding, (and) toughness,” one source tells Bleacher Report.

While it’s not clear if Hawks big man John Collins will be a pre-deadline trade target for the Mavs, league sources believe the team would make a “significant offer” to him if he reaches restricted free agency in the offseason, per Fischer.

Dallas has also explored the trade market for additional shooting and perimeter defense, according to Fischer, who adds that the Mavs appear to have been one of the more active teams in the early stages of trade conversations around the league.

Porzingis’ injury issues and his defensive shortcomings have prevented him taking a major step toward stardom since arriving in Dallas, and he owns the most expensive contract on the Mavs’ books, with three years and $101MM+ left on his deal after this season. However, that contract isn’t interfering with Dallas’ ability to upgrade the roster, as the club still projects to have a significant chunk of cap room available in the summer of 2021.

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Marshall, Porzingis, Grizzlies

While it may be tempting to continue revamping their roster around cornerstone players Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, the Pelicans have now won six of eight games and no longer look like a team on the verge of a fire sale, writes Scott Kushner of

“I said to guys when all that was going on that it’s natural,” Pelicans head coach Stan Van Gundy said. “You’re losing games so people are going to say, ‘Oh shoot, they’re going to blow it up.’ And the rumors are going to start. If we were winning then, like we have in the last seven, then the rumors go away. Because people will think you are happy with your team.”

Multiple reports in late January indicated that the Pelicans were exploring the possibility of moving Lonzo Ball, J.J. Redick, and/or Eric Bledsoe. Those rumors have died down as of late, though that doesn’t mean those players are off the trade block, as Kushner notes. This season’s trade deadline is still six weeks away, so there’s plenty of time for New Orleans to consider whether dealing one or more of those veteran guards makes sense.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

Western Notes: Bridges, KP, Beal, Warriors, Gobert

Suns small forward Mikal Bridges is making the case for an offseason extension with his play this season, Michael Pina of Sports Illustrated contends. A versatile two-way wing, Bridges has improved his scoring output while frequently guarding the best perimeter player on the opposing club.

Bridges described his own prep process for the All-Stars he has had to defend, ranging from Kawhi Leonard to Damian Lillard. “You just gotta know your opponent, lock into the film, their tendencies, and get ready, man,” Bridges said.

There’s more out of the West:

  • During this young season, Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis has yet to recapture the tantalizing play he flashed during the 2019/20 season, his first full year in Dallas, per Drew Maresca of Basketball Insiders. Maresca notes that Porzingis, who rejoined the Mavs last month after an offseason knee surgery, has not been able to replicate the long-range shooting touch he exhibited last season.
  • The Warriors could provide an appealing trade package in a hypothetical deal with the Wizards for Bradley Beal. In a deal that would probably have to include both 2020 lottery pick James Wiseman and the Timberwolves’ top-3 protected 2021 draft selection, the Warriors would be perhaps sacrificing their future for their present. The big question, were a trade to happen, is how long Golden State star guard Stephen Curry can remain a core part of a title club, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic.
  • Jazz All-Star center Rudy Gobert recently sat down for an extensive interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic, addressing the Jazz’s hot start to the 2020/21 season, his relationship with All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell, his relationship with former Jazz star center Mark Eaton, and a host of other topics. Utah, currently the No. 1 seed in the West, is 9-1 in its last 10 contests and 16-5 overall. “We all realize that winning a championship would be something that’s never been done before in this franchise, so we all realize that if we all give a little more of ourselves to the team and we all sacrifice a little more, we have a chance to hopefully be in a position to accomplish that,” Gobert said.

Western Notes: Patterson, Lakers, KP, Lonzo

In his second year with the Clippers, reserve power forward Patrick Patterson is impressing his Los Angeles teammates and coaches with his preparation, according to Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register.

“Coming in every single day and getting (his) work in, condition-wise, shots, always putting in the extra time,” Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said of Patterson’s prep work, despite a limited on-court rule thus far. “Pat Pat has been doing a good job of playing five-on-five with the young guys, and just keeping his flow.”

There’s more out of the Western Conference:

  • Complacency may be the toughest adversary the reigning champion Lakers confront during the 2020/21 season, says Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register. Though the defensive-oriented champs have lost two games they led entering the fourth quarter this season after not dropping a single such game during 2019/20, their offensive output has improved notably, Goon opines.
  • Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis has been trending upward since his return to game action, according to Dwain Price of
  • Fourth-year Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball has struggled to fit in on the hardwood during his second season with New Orleans, writes Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer. After failing to agree to terms on an extension by the deadline this season, Ball will be a restricted free agent this summer. Though he’s a savvy player and good defender, Ball’s jump shooting (just 38.7% from the floor) has limited his efficacy this season.

Southwest Notes: Alexander-Walker, Harden, Porzingis, Jackson

Continued improvement and consistency from Nickeil Alexander-Walker could make it more feasible for the Pelicans to move Lonzo Ball down the road, Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Times-Picayune writes. Alexander-Walker, a first-round pick in 2019, erupted for a career-high 37 points against the Clippers on Wednesday.

“The big measure for young guys is not what happens when everything is rolling your way,” Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy said. “It’s what happens when you’re having a frustrating night.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets defeated the Spurs in their first game since the James Harden trade and rookie forward Jae’Sean Tate  said the team was determined to put up a unified front, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. Houston also played without the most prominent player it acquired, Victor Oladipo, as well as injured guards John Wall and Eric Gordon. “There’s a lot of guys — on the team and coaching staff and the GM — everybody has so much to prove,” Tate said.
  • Kristaps Porzingis‘ season debut reinforced the feeling that he may be best suited at power forward, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes. Porzingis often played center last season when Dwight Powell injured his Achilles. The Mavericks are unbeaten this season since Willie Cauley-Stein became the starter at center. The Mavs are likely to keep Porzingis at power forward for the time being, Townsend adds.
  • Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. vows that he’ll return to action this season, as he told Marc Spears of The Undefeated. He suffered a meniscus tear in his left knee in August. “I’ll be back this [season]. Who knows when, but it won’t be too long,” he said.

Kristaps Porzingis Set To Make Season Debut

[UPDATE: Monday’s Mavericks/Pelicans game has been postponed.]

Barring a last-minute setback, Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis is poised to make his season debut on Monday night against the Pelicans, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Porzingis, who underwent surgery in October to repair the meniscus in his right knee, spent the offseason recovering from and rehabbing that injury, but wasn’t quite ready to go when the regular season got underway last month.

The 25-year-old had been a full participant in practice for the last two weeks as he worked on getting back up to game speed, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Over the weekend, he was upgraded to questionable for Monday’s game.

Porzingis’ return should provide a shot in the arm to a Mavericks team that is missing multiple players due to the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols. After a slow start, Dallas has won its last three games to push its record above .500 (5-4).

Although he has battled health issues throughout his NBA career, Porzingis has been a standout contributor when he’s on the court. In his first full season in Dallas in 2019/20, he averaged 20.4 PPG, 9.5 RPG, and 2.0 BPG in 57 games (31.8 MPG).