DALLAS – Exactly 13 months to the day from undergoing successful surgery on his torn left anterior cruciate ligament, Kristaps Porzingis went through his first full-scale 5-on-5 practice with the Dallas Mavericks.
“That’s not how we planned it,” Porzingis said. “It’s just the progression that we had. I could have been on the court way earlier than this.
“But we really took our time, we really stayed patient, I stayed really patient. I’m proud of myself for staying that patient. But now it’s here, I’m excited and I can’t wait for the next practice.”
Porzingis went through his first 5-on-5 practice with the Mavs on Wednesday at the Lympo practice facilities. From all indications, it was a very successful practice – with no restrictions placed on Porzingis – and the 7-3 forward/center walked away smelling like a rose and feeling very confident about what he’s been able to accomplish.
“I’ve visualized a lot and I see myself playing, so this whole time I’m always thinking in my head ‘I don’t want to come back and be rusty,’ “ Porzingis said. “I want to be in the game right away.
“I missed the shots today, but I felt good on the court, I felt comfortable, I felt fluid and I think that’s important. The shots will start falling and the more we play, the more I play. It’s good to finally be able to do something physical, so I’m happy.”
Porzingis sustained his knee injury on Feb. 6, 2018 against the Milwaukee Bucks while he was still a member of the New York Knicks, and then underwent the surgery on Feb. 13, 2018. In a seven-player, two-draft pick trade, the Mavs acquired Porzingis from the Knicks on Jan. 31.
Although there are absolutely no plans for Porzingis to play this season, coach Rick Carlisle can’t help but think about the prospects of having the three-year veteran in his starting lineup next season and beyond.
“He went through a full practice with no issues, so very encouraging,” Carlisle said. “He’s made tremendous progress with his rehab, with his conditioning, his strength, and (playing 5-on-5 basketball) was the next logical progression.
“He played 3-on-3 yesterday morning with some of the other guys and did extremely well there. So this went really well.”
Porzingis and Carlisle have had discussions about what his role will be with the Mavs going forward, and Porzingis is very confident about that critical role.
“I really like his philosophy, the way he sees me out there on the court, and I think we’re on the same page on all of the stuff that we talked about,” Porzingis said. “So I’m really excited to play for coach Carlisle and it’s going to be a great opportunity for me to take my game to the next level.”