DETROIT — Dirk Nowitzki said Thursday night that he thinks the Dallas Mavericks might have added a franchise-type of player to its roster in Kristaps Porzingis and created a combination of young stars that could be fun to watch for a “long, long time.”
Porzingis headlines a seven-player trade between the Mavericks and the New York Knicks that materialized quickly Thursday afternoon. ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reported the Mavericks’ front office was confident it could convince Porzingis, who will be a restricted free agent this summer, to sign a long-term deal with the team. Nowitzki and fellow European lottery pick Luka Doncic both said they plan on playing a role in making their new teammate feel at home and convincing him to stick 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.”
Porzingis and Nowitzki bonded on a trip to South Africa in the summer of 2017 to play in the NBA Africa Game. Doncic, the 19-year-old rookie averaging 20.4 points per game this season, said he has known Porzingis for several years and he’s “hopeful” that they will form a long-lasting duo in Dallas.
Doncic said he spoke briefly to Porzingis on Thursday after the trade was announced but said he would keep the conversation private. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle told a pregame radio show that he thought the 7-foot-3 Porzingis and the 6-foot-7 ballhandling Doncic had a chance to form a newer, taller version of the Nowitzki-Steve Nash combination that played together in Dallas two decades ago.
“He’s such an amazing player, so this could be a good thing,” Doncic said. “He’s big, he can shoot, he can rebound, he can do a lot of things. I think he can be one of the best players in this league.”
Nowitzki, 40, said he doesn’t think Porzingis will need much mentoring when he arrives in Dallas. He called his new teammate “a perfect fit for the new NBA.”
“If you have a chance to add a franchise-caliber player like Porzingis you’ve just gotta go for it,” Nowitzki said. “… He’s mobile enough to play the 4. He can be a spread 5. He can move, block shots, post. 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.”
As part of the trade, New York will also send Trey Burke, Courtney Lee and Tim Hardaway Jr. to Dallas. The addition of Hardaway adds another rare distinction to the veteran Nowitzki’s resume. According to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group, Nowitzki becomes the fourth player to play with a father and son duo. Nowitzki played with Tim Hardaway Sr. in Dallas during the 2001-02 season.
“That’s kind of sad,” Nowitzki said Thursday night.