While multiple reports link the Heat to possibly obtaining big names such as Kyle Lowry, Kawhi Leonard, or Bradley Beal, after sources told ESPN that Kristaps Porzingis was unhappy with his diminished role with the Dallas Mavericks, and “felt more like an afterthought than a co-star as [Luka] Doncic dominates the ball and the spotlight.”
Now, there’s speculation Miami might shift their focus to obtaining the 7-foot-3 power forward as the Heat desperately need a big man. A possible trade scenario that clears the salary cap has Miami sending over Duncan Robinson in sign and trade deal, along with Nemanja Bjelica and Victor Oladipo. In exchange, Dallas sends over Porzingis and Boban Marjanovic.
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Following the Mavericks’ Game 7 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, Porzingis was asked about his role with the team moving forward alongside Doncic, and the 25-year-old Latvian star seemed stumped on how to answer.
“Good question,” Porzingis said, as reported by ESPN‘s Tim MacMahon.”How do I feel? I mean, I’m good. I tried to put in the work, tried to work hard. I do my part, listen to the coaches, what I’m asked to do, and that’s it.”
“I try to keep it simple for myself, so I’m not overthinking, and I try to focus on what I can control. That’s being a better basketball player, going into the offseason hungry. I want to get better physically [and] on the basketball court. I’m going to put that work in to get better, and then the rest of the stuff will resolve itself.”
Porzingis’ response seemed to come straight out of the Heat culture playbook. While it would great if the Heat could take a test drive with Porzingis, it would not be a cheap venture. “He is owed $101.5 million over the next three seasons, a contract that executives and scouts around the league view as an albatross,” MacMahon noted.
Is an Injury-Prone Porzingis Worth Giving Up Robinson?
While Miami can create the cap space in order to obtain Porzingis, whether they should is another matter. While Porizingis is both tall and a force on offense, he averaged 20.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, per game this season, Robinson is better on defense and a much better three-point shooter.
During the seven-game series against the Clippers, Porzingis averaged just 13 points and five rebounds. He shot 29% from beyond the line, going 0 for 5 for threes in Game 7.
On the possibility of giving up Robinson for Porzingis, Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman reported that it should be “a hard pass… beyond being tall, when exactly does Kristaps do, beyond the rebounds that come his way? The Mavericks are going to have to provide ample sweeteners in a package with that deal.”
Another huge factor to consider with Porzinigis is that while he’s still young, the former No. 4 overall pick is already injury-prone. Bleacher Report‘s Greg Swartz wrote on June 6, “Knee and ankle injuries limited him to just 43 games this season. Porzingis hasn’t played in more than 66 contests since his rookie season in 2015-16, and missed the Mavs’ final three playoff games last year after tearing his meniscus.”
“Dallas needs to at least explore the trade market and see what offers exist from teams still willing to take a gamble on his potential,” Swartz continued. “Even finding a team with a massive amount of salary-cap space (San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder) to simply take Porzingis and his contract should be an option.”
The Heat would greatly benefit by adding another All-Star to complement the team’s core that is Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. With Oladipo’s future still up in the air, and possibly up to $34 million in additional cap space if they release both Goran Dragic and Andre Iguodala, Pat Riley could make a blockbuster move to sign Porzingis.