Porzingis is considered a cornerstone piece along with Doncic for the Mavs to build a future, NBA title-winning team.
But along with Porzingis came three other integral players who will beat Porzingis to the court in Mavs’ jerseys. Porzingis, who is recovering from an ACL injury, won’t play in a game for Dallas until next season. The other will make their Mavs’ debuts Wednesday night against the Charlotte Hornets at American Airlines Center.
Guards Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Courtney Lee took turns saying all the right things during a press conference where they, along with Porzingis, were introduced to the Dallas media Monday afternoon.
Hardaway, 26, whose dad played for the Mavs for much of the 2001-02 season, said it was a great opportunity for himself and his family. Burke, 26, said the trio is trying to absorb as much as possible in a three-day crash course on the Mavs’ system. Lee, 33, said he’s focused on the present, not the future potential of the newly-shaped roster.
“The future is in the future, right now is the present , so our job is to go out there and lead by example, practice hard and help develop these guys for the future,” said Lee, who added a playoff berth is still the goal with 30 games left to play and three teams between Dallas and the postseason. “I’m not going to go out there and try to do a whole bunch of stuff that I’m not accustomed to doing. Anything it takes to win and help the team get better going forward.”
Carlisle put his new players through an “introductory session” on Sunday and another before their first practice with the team on Monday. They’ll do another session on Tuesday.
“These other guys are all proven vets. They’re all terrific players. They bring energy, they bring competitiveness to the situation which is something that we always love here,” he said. Carlisle said he told the entire team that they’ll play with “complete lineup flexibility going forward,” which will allow Carlisle to survey his new players, different combinations, and rotations.
“We could start a different team every night. You’re going to see different things going on. You’ll see some nights where we’ll start smaller guys. Some nights we’ll start bigger,” he said. “A lot of it will be matchup-driven.
“During this period where we have some new guys and we’ve got to continue to learn about the guys that we have. We’ve got to be open-minded about experimenting while still making every full effort to win. We’re rebuilding a championship team. That’s obviously a lot about what this deal’s all about.”
Carlisle, of course, is talking about down the road.
But the three “others” in the Porzingis trade would prefer to get off the feeder.
”It feels good to be in a winning culture, a part of a championship-pedigree type organization. I’m very excited to be here,” Burke said.
“It’s a new challenge for me, a new opportunity for myself and these guys as well. We’re ready to take advantage of it,” said Hardaway, who is excited to play with Doncic.
“I think him playing overseas gave him a head start. Everything slows down for him as a ballplayer. He’s great. He goes out there and competes, works his tail off. Shoots the heck out of the ball. He makes things easier for his teammates.”
“We all have one goal in mind. Right now that goal is to make it to the playoffs,” Burke said. “We all know that you take it one game at a time. I think it starts with confidence, with all of us going out there in new situations but being confident in your role.”
Those roles, however, remain to be defined.