It wasn’t that long ago when Dallas Mavericks fans rejoiced when Kristaps Porzingis came over and formed a one-two punch with Luka Doncic. The two European players were expected to get along just fine. After all, they had similar roots growing up and both excel in today’s modern game.
It should have been a match made in heaven, right? By the looks of it this season, it doesn’t seem that way.
Some eagle-eyed fans and pundits have already noted what appears to be a growing strain in the two Mavs stars’ relationship. Sure, we’re probably fishing a bit too much, here, since the pair haven’t criticized one another publicly at any point.
As far as we know, things may not be all rainbows and butterflies, but everything is all good between the two.
Still, it’s not that hard to see that The Unicorn doesn’t seem too enthusiastic in the Big D these days. It’s not just because he was part of trade rumors before the deadline.
Porzingis’ body language as of late suggests he might not be too happy with his Robin role behind Luka’s Batman.
To be fair, the 7-foot-3 Latvian’s numbers are still pretty good, norming 20.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks, while shooting 47.9 percent from the field and 36.6 from deep. The Mavs haven’t met the lofty expectations after their strong run in the bubble last year, but are still in the playoff race in the West with a 39-25 slate (7th place).
However, the case can be made that Porzingis’ usage in Rick Carlisle’s offense has also diminished a bit. Even Hall-of-Famer Earl Monroe recently suggested that 25-year-old center has downgraded from a franchise player to just a serviceable utility man for the Mavs.
He’s still undeniably Doncic’s right-hand man, which might actually be the root of the problem.
Again, maybe it’s nothing and the supposed feud should not be blown out of proportion. However, the most heated feuds in the league like the Kobe-Shaq beef back in the day all began with just seemingly minor things.
With that said, we’ll be looking at two social cues that may indicate trouble brewing in paradise between Porzingis and Doncic.
1. Porzingis’ nonchalant reaction after Doncic’s game-winner
The entire Mavs team was understandably in a celebratory mood after Doncic drilled perhaps one of the most amazing game-winners in NBA history against the Memphis Grizzlies earlier this week.
Well, everyone except KP.
While his teammates mobbed the Slovenian superstar after that improbable shot, Porzingis did not even bother going near Luka to congratulate him.
Sure, he raised his right hand after Luka Doncic drilled the buzzer-beater, but that’s about it.
Check out Porzingis’ suspicious reaction, or in this case lack thereof.
He absolutely did not look happy for his team, nor was he thrilled that it was Doncic who gave them the W.
Perhaps he wanted to take the shot himself? As you can see, he was wide open at the top of the key and was asking for the ball in that final play.
Is there more to this than meets the eye? You decide.
2. Porzingis seems fed up every time he’s asked about Doncic
As mentioned earlier, Porzingis is still playing pretty well for the Mavericks and still has his fair share of time in the limelight. However, it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t seem too pleased every time reporters ask about Doncic during his interviews.
It’s supposed to be his time, right? Case in point, KP seems annoyed to answer Doncic-related questions after that win over Memphis.
At the start of the interview, Porzingis still showed some enthusiasm in his voice. But later on, when he realized that the media just wants his reaction to Doncic’s shot, his body language and tone changed a bit and his answers got shorter and shorter.
Here’s the interview so you can see it for yourself.
This isn’t even the first time that Doncic and Porzingis’ relationship has been questioned. He practically admitted that their chemistry is not where it should be in this interview.
3. Kristaps could easily shoot down rumors, but doesn’t
.@townbrad specifically mentioned the frequent lack of interaction between the Mavs franchise cornerstones. Porzingis didn't exactly shoot that down.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) April 9, 2021
Again, the supposed rift between these two is still is purely speculative at the moment. Luka Doncic, himself, has yet to address this issue, and he doesn’t seem to have a problem playing with KP.
But clearly, the signs are all there, at least from Porzingis’ standpoint. After all, it takes time for a relationship to truly blossom, especially for two young superstars who are still learning how to co-exist on the same floor together. Some partnerships take a while to figure things out, while others are special enough to click right off the bat.
Do you think the Porzingis-Doncic duo will work for the Mavs moving forward? Only time will tell.