Kristaps Porzingis made his return to New York on Monday, but it wasn't at Madison Square Garden. Instead, it was further downtown in Brooklyn where his new Mavericks squad was beaten badly by the Nets. And as the game ended, Porzingis was swift to leave the Barclays Center court as he didn't want to answer any questions regarding his departure from the Knicks last month.
After the shocking blockbuster deal just before the NBA trade deadline between the Mavs and Knicks, Porzingis left by telling Knicks fans know to "stay woke." This statement on his Instagram came after the Knicks' comments about how Porzingis was unhappy and forced the team's hand to trade him. Porzingis has yet to address any of this since shipping out to Dallas.
Instead, Porzingis' new teammates and head coach answered for him, but one teammate that was shipped to Dallas with him in Tim Hardaway Jr. knows the Knicks made a big mistake.
"I let them know what we had was special," Hardaway told The Athletic's Frank Isola in his final words to the Knicks. "I really think they didn't give us an opportunity to have K.P. come back. It is what it is."
Now looking forward, the Mavericks are excited and they should be. Porzingis comes over to the Mavs to hopefully create a dynamic duo with rookie sensation Luka Doncic, and legendary European star in Dirk Nowitzki knows Porzingis has what it takes to be that franchise player.
"We obviously wouldn't have made the trade if we didn't think he was going to be a franchise-type talent," Nowitzki told The Athletic's Frank Isola. "Hopefully he gets 100 percent healthy once next season rolls around."
Porzingis showcased that ability with the Knicks, but his inability to stay consistently healthy left Knicks fans wanting much more. Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle said yet again that the 7-foot-3 Latvian wouldn't be suiting up in his new threads this season, but he made sure to say he is doing things "behind the scenes" to get back that versatile player New York fell in love with.
"What I've learned about him is he's a tremendous talent, that's obvious," Carlisle said. "He's a great kid. He's meticulous in how he approaches things. Very detailed. Extremely hardworking and organized in everything he does."
All of those qualities being on display for Carlisle and the rest of the Mavs' staff has fortified the notion that Porzingis has a bright future ahead -- if he can stay healthy, of course.
"Those are all the traits of somebody who has the ability to be tremendously great," Carlisle said. "So the No. 1 thing right now is his health. Getting him back 100 percent. Which will happen. In the meantime, he's picked up his workouts. He's doing more aggressive one-on-ones, controlled banging type stuff with some of our assistants. And he's making great progress."
While Porzingis gets accustomed to his new team, the Knicks continue their tank heading into a critical 2019 offseason for the franchise. Trading Porzingis -- the face of their franchise -- proved their all-in bet to land two max free agents with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in mind. That hope, along with landing the No. 1 overall pick to likely draft Zion Williamson, would immediately flip the Knicks to a playoff contender instead of the lowly team it has been for the past few seasons.
But the Knicks can't promise that plan will come to fruition. The Mavs, on the other hand, have most of their plan set in stone, and Porzingis is set to lead the pack.
"Categorically, he appears to me to be a leader, which is something you can't have enough of," Carlisle said. "All the signs point in a really good direction."