The Dallas Mavericks have a once-in-a-lifetime player with Luka Doncic, and the young gun from Slovenia intends to remain with the Mavs by signing a super-max contract extension. That squashed any rumors that Doncic would leave the Mavs in free agency to join the New York Knicks or Miami Heat for the next stage of his career.
Doncic averaged 27.7 points (ranked #6), 8.6 assists (ranked #5), and 8.0 rebounds per game this season with the Mavericks. His 25.33 PER rating ranked #10 overall in the league. Doncic recorded 36 triple-doubles in 199 regular-season games during his first three years in the NBA. He also notched three triple-doubles in 13 postseason games.
Doncic earned $8 million this season as part of his initial rookie contract that was worth $32.4 million over four years.
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Now that the Mavs have locked Doncic to a super-max contract, it’s time to build a team around him if they want to become perennial championship contenders. That includes making a tough decision about Kristaps “Unicorn” Porzingis’ future with the team.
Every great championship team had a fantastic pairing or trio of superstars. The Mavs gambled on a major trade with the Knicks for Porzingis, who Mark Cuban and the Mavs hoped would be the perfect compliment alongside Doncic. In theory, it worked, so long Porzingis was healthy. In reality, he struggled with a long list of injuries since joining the NBA is now an overpaid liability with over $100 million and three years remaining on a five-year contract worth $158.2 million.
Cuban explored trade possibilities for the Unicorn, but didn’t have much interest from other teams regarding the injury-prone Porzingis. The Mavs need to cut their losses and move on from the Doncic/Porzingis experiment. It’s time to send the Unicorn out to pasture or to live on a farm with grandma.
The Mavs are in a tough spot because they leveraged a pair of future first-round draft picks (2021 and 2023) in the initial Porzingis trade with the Knicks.
Since joining the Mavs, Porzingis missed nearly 33% of his games due to one injury or another. During the 2020 postseason inside the NBA Bubble, Porzingis tore his meniscus in the opening round. The Mavs were knocked out by the LA Clippers in six games and Porzingis was practically invisible.
He underwent surgery in the offseason and, due to a quick turnaround between seasons, he missed the first few weeks of this year’s campaign. Porzingis appeared in 43 games averaging 20.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. He also averaged 1.3 blocks per game, but was no longer an elite rim protector and shot blocker like he was during his first three seasons with the Knicks.
The Mavs secured the #5 seed in the Western Conference playoffs this year, but were eliminated by the Clippers in the first round once again. This time, Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers rallied back from a 3-2 deficit to advance to the West semifinals and knock out the Mavs.
Porzingis struggled against the Clippers, posting numbers far worse than his regular-season stats. The Unicorn posted an unimpressive 13.1 ppg, 5.4 rebounds, and 0.7 blocks per game against the Clippers. He had three games in which he scored nine or fewer points, and scored 20 points just once.
A duo can only be dynamic if they both put up stellar numbers. Doncic more than pulled his weight with 35.7 ppg, 10.3 assists, and 7.9 rebounds per game, but Porzingis disappeared.