Mac Engel: Mavericks’ Kristaps Porzingis should look hard at Kyrie Irving lesson

The Oklahoma City Thunder's Darius Bazley, left, takes a shot against the Dallas Mavericks' Kristaps Porzingis (6) in the first quarter at American Airlines Center in Dallas on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images/TNS)
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Mac Engel Fort Worth Star-Telegram (TNS)

FORT WORTH, Texas — When the Dallas Mavericks introduced Kristaps Porzingis in January 2019, coach Rick Carlisle made a point of thanking members of KP’s “team.”

A guy who has a “team,” and it’s not the team, can be a problem.

There’s usually a family a member, and a friend, and some sycophantic “coach” whose collective mission is to serve as a support staff to the player, but really function as “You’re right, they’re wrong” leech in exchange for money.

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KP isn’t a problem for the Dallas Mavericks, and neither is his “team,” but someone on the team that pays him needs to tell someone on his other team just how good he has it in Dallas.

It’s the conversation someone should have had when Kyrie Irving was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

If KP doesn’t love being “The Son” he needs to take a look at Kyrie, who is not good enough to be The Man.

KP is a tremendous talent, when he actually plays, but he needs Luka Doncic more than Luka needs KP.

After Kyrie Irving and the Nets were in town to play the Mavericks Thursday night, now is a good time to revisit something Kevin Durant once said of the mercurial All-Star guard, and now teammate, because it applies to the Luka-KP dynamic.

In the summer of 2017, Irving was in the midst of winning/contending for NBA titles as the No. 2 to LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

Despite the title, and success, Kyrie wanted out of Cleveland. He asked for a trade.

In August 2017, Durant told ESPN, “It’s just a regular NBA problem, right? A lot of teams have gone through this before. They’ll figure it out. That’s a great organization, a championship organization. They’ll figure it out.”

He added, “It’s not the end of the world. Both of those guys won a championship together. They love each other. If Kyrie wants to do something else, that’s on him. I’m sure whatever happens, it’ll work out for the best for both of them. But it’s just a normal NBA problem. It’s just two big stars that it’s happening to.”

Kyrie wanted his own show, and he was granted it when he was dealt to Boston that summer. He has not been to an NBA Finals since.

And since signing with Brooklyn in ‘19, the team added KD and James Harden, because Kyrie realized he’s not LeBron.

Where KP and Luka are in their relationship shows no signs of Kyrie and ‘Bron.

It helps that no one on this planet is like Kyrie Irving.

Much has been made of KP’s relationship with Doncic, and whether they actually get along.

At least according to those familiar with, and around, the team, the Eastern Euro Duo are “fine.”

Bad is a three-letter word. Great is a five-letter word. Fine is a four-letter word.

We stupidly thought because this pair is from Eastern Europe, and had played together a few times before coming to the NBA, that they were going to be a buddy cop movie duo.

They’re NBA players with egos, and both are alphas.

Playing with a player who is as ball dominant as Luka is not an easy transition.

Mavs owner Mark Cuban told 105.3 The Fan this year that Luka and KP aren’t buddy-buddy, and likened to it Dirk Nowitzki’s relationship with Jason Terry earlier in their pairing.

Luka is Dirk, and KP is the Jet.

The Mavs made KP the highest paid player in franchise history, and have addressed his needs. He will not find a franchise any more player-friendly.

He averages 20 points and 9.1 rebounds a game. But when you’re limited to only 40 games, for whatever the reason, that can tax a coach and a team.

You can’t be great if you’re not playing.

The more KP plays, or doesn’t play, it’s becoming apparent injuries will define his career. This is not a case of a guy who doesn’t want to play, but his body won’t allow it.

If he can’t be on the floor consistently, then the least he can do is to make sure he’s good at being The Son.

Because Luka is The Man, and that’s just the way it is.

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