BOSTON — Dallas Mavericks proprietor Mark Cuban was going through a pre-game interview session before Monday’s game against the Boston Celtics when Kristaps Porzingis’ name came up.
Cuban’s eyes lit up like a Christmas tree.
Not only is Cuban impressed with the 20.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocks Porzingis is averaging. He’s also equally excited that the 7-3 power forward has been able to accomplish all of this some 21 months after undergoing surgery to repair his tore left anterior cruciate ligament.
“The dude talks about being rusty,” Cuban said. “He’s still putting up 20 (points), eight (rebounds) and 2.6 (blocks).
“Only Anthony Davis has done that for a whole season. That’s a lot to be excited about. He’s a superstar.”
Cuban knows Porzingis was chosen to the Eastern Conference All-Star team in 2018 when he was with the New York Knicks, then suffered the debilitating knee injury shortly thereafter. So, he knows the fifth-year veteran has star power, which is why Cuban couldn’t temper his excitement.
“I’m excited because he’s a lot farther along than I thought he would be at this point, a lot less rusty than I thought,” Cuban said. “And the rust is disappearing very quickly.
“But at the same time, now that we see him, we’re trying to balance shots and play the right way and have guys understand their roles.”
The Mavs acquired Porzingis in a trade with the Knicks on Jan. 31. And when Cuban found out Porzingis wanted to come to the Mavs, he wasn’t surprised.
“It’s a player’s league and Kris is a smart guy,” Cuban said. “He’s maturing, and I don’t mean that in a bad way.
“He said many times he realized he wasn’t going to be a basketball player his entire life and he was having to go through the adjustments. So he’s just come in and been incredible. So no, I wasn’t surprised with his reaction last year. The way he integrated himself to the team, he was great.”
And when it comes to Porzingis being integrated to the Mavs, that basically means he’ll be one of the team’s bookend superstars alongside Luka Doncic. But first, following the trade, Porzingis had to continue rehabbing his surgically repaired left knee.
Cuban said: “We just showed him that we can get him ready, coach (Rick Carlisle) is a great coach and we can get him ready, we’ve got a great culture that will adopt him, playing with Luka is not a bad thing — he’s going to get the ball where he wants it and how he wants it. He’s going to get more threes up, he’s going to be closer to the basket. Just things that are enticing to a great player.
“The guy is a bonafide superstar. He’s putting up ungodly numbers and he’s still rusty. Can you imagine where he’s going to get to?”
CUBAN FOR LOAD MANAGEMENT: Mark Cuban said he’s a big fan of load management in the NBA.
Load management is basically where a team will not play a player so they can rest him or protect him from an injury or surgery he’s had.
“I think the problem isn’t load management, per say,” said Cuban, who is the Mavs’ proprietor. “I think teams have to be smarter about when they load manage.
“We have rules in place where if there’s a back-to-back, first of all we try to reduce the number of back-to-backs. Second, we try to reduce the back-to-backs where they are TV games. When a team plays on the non-TV game, I think that’s more of a team issue, but I’m all for load management. I think what’s worse than missing a player in the game is missing him in the playoffs.”
And that’s not all Cuban had to say about load management.
“If you go back to the days when guys played 42 minutes a game and there were 10 guys in the league playing 40-plus minutes, the quality of the game wasn’t nearly as good,” Cuban said. “We gave them a hard time about being worn out or saving themselves for the fourth quarter, now all the evidence, all the data says you maintain usage levels over the course of the season with rest or however you do it, so you’re seeing guys (playing) 35-36 minutes is a lot.”