DALLAS – Kristaps Porzingis went through his first 5-on-5 practice session with the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday. Afterwards, he declared himself in better condition and more healthier now than he was before he suffered a torn left anterior cruciate ligament on Feb. 6, 2018.
“I definitely feel better than I did before (the injury),” Porzingis said after Wednesday’s practice at the Lympo practice facilities. “The way I move, the way I run, the way I jump, everything just feels more fluid.
“It’s been almost 13 months since I played 5-on-5, and it felt great today to be back on the court and be back with the guys and just enjoying what I truly love.”
While Porzingis may be feeling better, coach Rick Carlisle acknowledged that from his understanding from upper management, the plan remains for the 7-3 forward/center to sit out the remainder of this season and make his regular season debut with the Mavs next season.
“My understanding is that he’s not playing (this season),” Carlisle said. “I’m operating on the assumption that he’s not playing.
“If somebody told me something different, then that would be different. But that has not happened. And I don’t think there should be any talk about him playing (this season).”
Porzingis injured his knee during a Feb. 6, 2018 game against the Milwaukee Bucks while he was still playing for the New York Knicks. The three-year veteran, who was named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team last year but couldn’t play in it because of his injury, underwent successful surgery on Feb. 13, 2018.
The Mavs traded Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews and two first-round draft picks to the Knicks for Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke, Courtney Lee and Porzingis this past Jan. 31. Since then, Porzingis had been going through various rehab treatments and playing limited basketball — until Wednesday’s full-scale workout.
“I’ve been feeling good playing 1-on-1, 2-on-2, 3-on 3, so I felt comfortable,” Porzingis said. “My body has changed since I got hurt, and I feel stronger on the court. I’m moving well, so I’m really happy about the progress that we’ve made.
“I missed shots (at Wednesday’s practice), but I felt good, I felt fluid on the court, I felt fast and I felt really good physically. Also, I already have a high confidence because of the work that I’ve been putting in to get to this point, so it was really natural for me to just be back on the court and be competing and contacting. So it really felt good and I’m looking forward to the next practice.”
Carlisle noted that there weren’t any restrictions on what Porzingis could or couldn’t do in Wednesday’s practice. And that made Carlisle become even more enthusiastic about Porzingis’ appearance on the court.
“We went 15 or 20 minutes of live 5-on-5 and he did a lot of stuff leading up to it, whether it was full court with his movements,” Carlisle said. “Many, many encouraging signs there.
“But days like today are extremely important. The impact that he had in practice was high. Not only does he score the ball, but he moves, he passes, he can make plays. He was involved in a lot of things going on out there.”
After practice, Porzingis did some one-on-one drills with forward Dirk Nowitzki. All in all, these were successful steps he was able to make as the Mavs have their eyes squarely on the future.
“A day like today where he gets through a full live practice and staying after it and playing 1-on-1 and shooting with Dirk, this is great stuff,” Carlisle said. “We’re playing a spacing style transition game and he shoots it, he drives it, he can make spot-ups.
“All of his skills are a big factor. What I saw today confirmed that we’re on the right track with our approach, which is good.”