Stephen A. Smith: Kristaps Porzingis ‘Jealous of Luka Doncic and Resentful’

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ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said Friday
sources close to the Dallas Mavericks suggest forward Kristaps
Porzingis is “jealous” of teammate Luka Doncic.

“Porzingis probably needs to go,” Smith said on First Take. “They probably need to utilize him to get
a bona fide secondary option because he seems to be somebody that’s
jealous of Luka Doncic and resentful of the cache he has compared to
Porzingis, and that’s partly what’s going on.”

Porzingis previously downplayed any
perceived issues with Doncic after Mavs owner Mark Cuban suggested
the star duo had some “dustups.”

“I’ve never had any problems with
my teammates off the court. I’ve always gotten along very well with
them,” Porzingis told Spanish outlet Marca (via CBS Sports’ Sam
Quinn). “I don’t know what Cuban was talking about. I try to be
as professional as possible, do what I have to do and be a soldier
for the team.”

Porzingis’ acquisition from the
New York Knicks in January 2019 combined with Doncic’s rapid
emergence as a perennial MVP candidate was expected to transform the
Mavericks into a title contender.

While Dallas has qualified for the
playoffs in each of the past two seasons, a sign of progress after three
straight postseason-less years, that rise toward championship
contention hasn’t happened, as the team was eliminated in the first
round in both 2020 and 2021.

Doncic also pushed aside any suggestion
of problems with his Latvian running mate after the Mavs were
eliminated by the Los Angeles Clippers in June.

“It’s great. He’s a great player,” Doncic told reporters. “I don’t know what we’re going to do next
year with the whole roster. I think we have a couple free agents. In
the NBA, every year, you have new teammates, so I don’t know what’s
going to happen, but he’s a great player. I think we’ve gotta use him
more, and that’s it.”

Dallas started the offseason with a
coaching change. Rick Carlisle, who had led the staff since 2008,
stepped down and was replaced by former All-Star point guard Jason
Kidd.

Now the question is whether the
Mavericks will significantly overhaul the roster during the summer or
rely on smaller moves around the Doncic-Porzingis tandem. Kidd
explained during his introductory press conference Thursday he’s
confident in Porzingis as a member of the core.

“I think he’s excited. He’s ready
to work, and I think you’re going to see a different KP,” Kidd
said. “This is a positive summer for him. He’s healthy. I think
he’s really excited about this opportunity. I think he’s a perfect
fit for Luka. He has a skill set that a lot of people don’t have in
this league. As a coach, I’m very excited to be able to work with
him.”

Those comments make it seem unlikely
the 7’3” power forward is dealt as part of a blockbuster, but
keeping Doncic happy is the franchise’s biggest task, so any
behind-the-scenes drama between the pair could be the X-factor in the
roster-building discussions.

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