In a recent interview, Sacramento Kings point guard and, by most reports, a very polite and well-mannered man, Rajon Rondo, said that the NBA was a “bunch of crybabies.” This is a controversial statement in that, though quite true, Rondo is likely not the first person to make that claim. It’s such statements such as this, such as (yet another) NBA player saying the league is full of “crybabies,” that make people who aren’t NBA fans but are fans of sports, say “Wait, what? Are you serious?” It’s not like sports is the only place where people make statements about the other team and calling it a bunch of crybabies. It’s just
Tim Hardaway Jr. is a basketball player from the United States. is a basketball player from the United States. is one of just two players who has spent more time on the floor with former All-Star Kristaps Porziis. In January 2019, they were acquired in the same blockbuster deal by the Dallas Mavericks. With Hardaway re-signing with Dallas for another four years, there may be no one better to analyze the Mavericks’ situation when Porziis is correct.
In the playoffs, Porziis struggled as the Mavericks became the first team in NBA history to win three away games in a series yet still lose. Hardaway, who finished in the top five in the Sixth Man of the Year voting last season, thinks that a healthy KP6 will help Dallas reach new heights in 2021–22.
Tim Hardaway Jr. has developed into a valuable backup player.
Since 2017, Tim Hardaway Jr. (L) and Kristaps Porziis have been teammates with the New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks, respectively. | Getty Images/Nic Antaya
Tim Hardaway Jr. needed some time to establish his place in the NBA. Hardaway, who was drafted by the New York Knicks in 2013, had a front-row seat to the franchise’s demise under Phil Jackson’s leadership. After being traded to the Atlanta Hawks in 2015, his career was almost ruined, but he rebounded with a great 2016–17 season.
As a result, he was offered a four-year, $71 million free-agent contract in Manhattan. In his second tenure with the Knicks, Hardaway became the team’s leading scorer, averaging 18.2 points per game before being traded to Dallas.
He’s been a part-time starter for the Mavericks and has improved dramatically as a spot-up shooter over the past two seasons. After making 34.3 percent of his long shots in his first six NBA seasons, Hardaway has shot 39.4 percent on 7.4 attempts a game in the last two. He can’t be held responsible for the Mavericks’ two first-round defeats to the Los Angeles Clippers in 2020 and 2021. In a six-game loss in the Orlando bubble, he averaged 17.8 points in 33.9 minutes per game. He averaged 17.0 points per game last season and shot 40.4 percent from outside the arc.
Kristaps Porziis, on the other hand, cannot say the same. The huge Latvian, who was acquired as the centerpiece of the 2019 deal, has failed to regain his pre-injury form.
Kristaps Porziis, according to Tim Hardaway Jr., is the Mavericks’ solution.
When tragedy struck in 2018, Kristaps Porziis had just been selected to his first All-Star Game. He tore his ACL during a game against the Milwaukee Bucks in February 2018. He missed the remainder of that season, as well as the whole 2018–19 season, due to the injury. While Porziis was recovering, the Knicks traded DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, Dennis Smith Jr., a 2021 first-round pick (Keon Johnson), and a top-10 protected first-round pick in 2023 to Dallas for DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, Dennis Smith Jr., a 2021 first-round pick (Keon Johnson), and a top-10 protected first-rounder in 2023.
Porziis was mostly absent during Dallas’ seven-game playoff defeat to the Clippers last season, scoring only 13.1 points and 5.4 rebounds in 33.3 minutes per game. Going 8-of-27 from 3-point range, as well as a rumored excursion to a strip joint, didn’t help matters. Hardaway, on the other hand, believes a change is on the way. During a news conference announcing his new contract, he said as much.
“I know KP since I’ve been his teammate for maybe longer than anybody else on the squad. I know he’s back in Latvia right now, working his tail off to get back to where he was before his injury with the Knicks. I know how much he loves the game and how hard he works, and I know he’ll do all he can to go back to that mentality.”
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Being fully healthy is a wonderful place to start.
Kristaps Porziis has a history of playing at a high level.
Kristaps Porziis was developing as a top-level scorer and rim protector with the Knicks before his knee issues. Last season, despite being hampered by his rehabilitation, he averaged 20.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. In 2019–20, he shot 42.7 percent overall and 35.2 percent from distance, while previous season, he shot 47.6 percent overall and 37.6 percent from distance.
The playoffs were difficult. While some think Tim Hardaway Jr. was the most beneficial acquisition from the deal, Porziis is still a young player with potential to grow. For the last three seasons, he hasn’t been completely healthy. That, according to Hardaway, is a factor.
“Injuries are a part of the game, and we have to consider that when he doesn’t seem to have his rhythm or isn’t feeling very secure out there. I know what kind of player he is and what he’s capable of better than anybody else in this room. I believe we can defeat anybody if you have that kind of KP back.”
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Kristaps Porziis, if he is correct, will return to the Dallas Mavericks as an All-Star. That’s a player they haven’t seen since he arrived in Dallas.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
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