Former NBA Champion Lashes Out at Mavericks’ Head Coach and Defends Kristaps Porzingis

Published 06/08/2021, 8:30 AM EDT
Apr 12, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) walks past center Kristaps Porzingis (white shirt) on the team bench as he leaves the game during the second half against the Philadelphia 76ers at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports


After winning the first three of the five games with a home game in the corner, the Mavericks deserved to take the series against the Clippers. However, that didn’t happen as they lost two back-to-back games in a repeat of last year’s tale. 

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It was particularly hard to see the Mavs lose the way they did because the unit played well for the most part. Luka Doncic continued to set and break personal records while Tim Hardaway rose to the occasion right on time. And yet, the Mavericks faced elimination while the highly optimistic Clippers advanced. So what went wrong with the Mavs?

Did Kristaps Porzingis drill a hole in the Mavericks’ boat?

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In a recent interview, when Rachel Nichols paraphrased coach Rick Carlisle to suggest how Carlisle wanted Kristaps to be a space-maker, the other panelists yawned and smirked.

Firstly, sportswriter Zach Lowe gave his opinion and expressed, “The biggest issue that I felt was the gap between your first and second player can’t be this big and you can’t win a championship. And Porzingis, that’s great. He’s spacing the floor, it’s helpful, didn’t pay him all this money to be a floor spacer. What they paid him really to do was, to hit a lot of open threes and to play a great defense at the rim… Their maximum ceiling is, play center.”

Now, KP6 averaged a meager 13.1 points, 5.4 rebs, and 0.7 blocks, all career-lows in the playoffs in 2021. His struggle with perimeter shooting in Game 7 further killed his prospect as a shooter and led to the Mavs series loss.

Noting this, 2016 NBA Champion Richard Jefferson expressed, “If we post him up, if he plays center, he’s already proved his durability is in question… If we have you at center…you keep getting broken down, your knees, that’s not just a knock on him. That is what we feel we can keep you on the floor doing.”

Jun 6, 2021; Kawhi Leonard against Kristaps Porzingis and Boban Marjanovic during the game seven at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This is true because Godzingis missed 29 games in the regular season because of his injuries that began bothering him last year itself. But is it just Porzingis who deserves all the blame?

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Kendrick Perkins drags the head coach into the debate

In the last 15 years, the Mavericks have reached the postseason on 11 occasions. In all those years, the Mavs saw first-round losses and seven of those results have come under the champion coach Rick Carlisle. However, that report card is not under scrutiny, but Carlisle’s way of using Kristaps is. 

KP said, “It’s time for the coach to change, don’t blame Porzingis… the ball just cannot be in Luka’s hands 98% of the times. And watching a guy like Porzingis… put him in position… make him feel wanted.”

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The 36-YO further explained how coach Carlisle has limited the Latvian center to become an under-the-rim passer to Luka Doncic waiting in the corner. This is very much in line with the 7’2” player’s recent admission of frustration with his role in the team.

That said, Kristaps still has three years left on his contract. What do you think, will Mark Cuban stick to the squad or hear out RJ or Perk? 

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Watch this story – When Luka Doncic and Others Emulated Bulls’ Michael Jordan

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Sourabh Singh

1258 articles

Sourabh Singh is an NBA sports analyst for EssentiallySports, who has been working with the site since May 2020. Prior to this, he functioned as Managing Editor at WittyFeed, followed by a stint at Decathlon. The Sports Management graduate leads an active lifestyle, veering to the mountains for off-trail adventures.

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