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Stephen A. Smith: Kristaps Porzingis 'Jealous of Luka Doncic and Resentful'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 17, 2021

Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said Friday sources close to the Dallas Mavericks suggest forward Kristaps Porzingis is "jealous" of teammate Luka Doncic.

"Porzingis probably needs to go," Smith said on First Take. "They probably need to utilize him to get a bona fide secondary option because he seems to be somebody that's jealous of Luka Doncic and resentful of the cache he has compared to Porzingis, and that's partly what's going on."

Porzingis previously downplayed any perceived issues with Doncic after Mavs owner Mark Cuban suggested the star duo had some "dustups."

"I've never had any problems with my teammates off the court. I've always gotten along very well with them," Porzingis told Spanish outlet Marca (via CBS Sports' Sam Quinn). "I don't know what Cuban was talking about. I try to be as professional as possible, do what I have to do and be a soldier for the team."

Porzingis' acquisition from the New York Knicks in January 2019 combined with Doncic's rapid emergence as a perennial MVP candidate was expected to transform the Mavericks into a title contender.

While Dallas has qualified for the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, a sign of progress after three straight postseason-less years, that rise toward championship contention hasn't happened, as the team was eliminated in the first round in both 2020 and 2021.

Doncic also pushed aside any suggestion of problems with his Latvian running mate after the Mavs were eliminated by the Los Angeles Clippers in June.

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"It's great. He's a great player," Doncic told reporters. "I don't know what we're going to do next year with the whole roster. I think we have a couple free agents. In the NBA, every year, you have new teammates, so I don't know what's going to happen, but he's a great player. I think we've gotta use him more, and that's it."

Dallas started the offseason with a coaching change. Rick Carlisle, who had led the staff since 2008, stepped down and was replaced by former All-Star point guard Jason Kidd.

Now the question is whether the Mavericks will significantly overhaul the roster during the summer or rely on smaller moves around the Doncic-Porzingis tandem. Kidd explained during his introductory press conference Thursday he's confident in Porzingis as a member of the core.

"I think he's excited. He's ready to work, and I think you're going to see a different KP," Kidd said. "This is a positive summer for him. He's healthy. I think he's really excited about this opportunity. I think he's a perfect fit for Luka. He has a skill set that a lot of people don't have in this league. As a coach, I'm very excited to be able to work with him."

Those comments make it seem unlikely the 7'3'' power forward is dealt as part of a blockbuster, but keeping Doncic happy is the franchise's biggest task, so any behind-the-scenes drama between the pair could be the X-factor in the roster-building discussions.

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