Dirk Nowitzki had high praise for Kristaps Porzingis after learning the former Knicks star would become his teammate following his trade to the Mavericks, calling the 23-year-old forward a “franchise-caliber player” and “a perfect fit for the new NBA.”
“He’s mobile enough to play the 4. He can be a spread 5. He can move, block shots, post,” Nowitzki, 40, said Thursday. “Before he got hurt he played a great all-around game. He’s got the work ethic to be great. He’s a good dude.”
Porzingis, who spent the past three seasons with the Knicks, was part of a seven-player trade between New York and Dallas that came about quickly Thursday afternoon. Prior to the trade, he reportedly met with Knicks management to express concern about the team’s direction as the franchise sits at 10-40 with the worst record in the league.
The Mavericks already are hopeful Porzingis will sign a long-term deal with the team, though Porzingis intends to inform the team that he will sign a qualifying offer in restricted free agency this summer, according to The Athletic.
The one-year qualifying offer would make Porzingis an unrestricted free agent in 2020, and he could still have the option to sign a five-year designated player max extension with Dallas.
“We wouldn’t have made the deal if we thought he was going to walk obviously,” Nowitzki said. “… Hopefully he’s going to like what he sees and he’s going to get healthy and play well for us. We’ll go from there.”
It’s unclear when Porzingis will make his Mavericks debut, as he continues rehabbing the ACL he tore last February. There’s a possibility he will miss the remainder of the season. He’s expected to be re-evaluated in the next few weeks.