If you ever needed a reminder of just how quickly things can
change in the NBA, look no further than Kristaps Porzingis.
Not too long ago, the Latvian was dubbed basketball’s “unicorn,”
and he was vocal in his belief that he was a better player than
Back then — when Porzingis was still a resident of Madison
Square Garden — there were some that probably would have tried to
make that case for him.
Now, just three years after the New York Knicks shipped him off
to the Dallas Mavericks, the Washington Wizards are simply hoping
that Porzingis will suit up for them this season.
On Wednesday, NBC Sports Washington’s Chase Hughes provided a
not-so-promising update on
Porzingis, who last played in an NBA game on Jan. 29.
That night, KP logged just 11 minutes of playing time in a
performance that was cut short due to what the Mavericks called
“right knee soreness.” He was subsequently diagnosed with a bone
bruise, and hasn’t played since.
The Wizards will begin the second half of the season at 27-31,
and trail the Atlanta Hawks by just a half-game for the 10th seed
in the Eastern Conference. For what it’s worth, the Wizards'
franchise is believed to be more interested in competing for a
playoff berth than yielding and rolling over their final 24 games
to improve their lottery odds. That's why Washington head coach Wes
Unseld Jr. remains upbeat and optimistic about the prospects of the
big man joining the lineup sooner rather than later.
Despite that, though, Unseld's comments on Thursday suggest that
it may still be at least another few games until we see the
Wizards’ newest acquisition.
"After the break, we’re still kind of concerned about just
throwing him out there. We’re still ramping things up for him,”
Unseld Jr. said of Porzingis on
"We need to make sure he’s exactly where he needs to be when we
reintegrate him into the 5-on-5.”
With Bradley Beal already sidelined for the remainder of the
season, any hopes of the Wizards stringing together some momentum
and finding their way into the postseason rest on them getting some
production out of Porzingis.
Based on Hughes’ account, it seems like Porzingis could make his
debut for the Wizards over the course of the next week, but at this
point, that’s obviously no guarantee.
The Wizards sent out Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertrans in the
deal that brought Porzingis in, and at least on paper, it was a
deal that made all the sense in the world for the Wizards. Players
with Porzingis’ potential and impact — at least when healthy —
don’t become available very often.
The “when healthy” qualifier, however, has been his biggest
Although he’s put on quite a bit of girth since he entered the
league in 2015, Porzingis has spent quite a bit of his time on the
shelf. He suffered a torn left ACL in his third season, which
caused him to miss 116 games. He’s since returned to form, for the
most part, but has had persistent knee and foot issues, with the
current bone bruise being the latest example.
For a player who has spent far too much of the early part of his
career on the shelf, his tenure as a Wizard hasn’t gotten off to
the best start to say the least.
Fortunately for Porzingis, it’s less about how you start and
more about how you finish. And at least for now — regardless as to
whether KP is able to help the Wizards sneak into the postseason —
the team can at least contemplate what a potential partnership with
Beal could look like in the future.
Beal has been the franchise’s mainstay, and he has the
opportunity to opt for free agency this summer; however, while he's
mentioned that he's keeping his options open, it
appears that he wants to make it work with the organization that
drafted him. With Kyle Kuzma’s progression and the growth of some
of the team’s younger pieces, the final 20 or so games for the
Wizards this season may actually end up being quite
Traded for spare parts, Porzingis didn’t land in Dallas still
dubbed the unicorn, but the hope in D.C. is that he can still be a
part of a long-term solution.
“I truly believe that my luck hasn’t been the best luck in terms
of injuries,” Porzingis said when he was introduced as a member of
the Wizards back on Feb. 12. "A lot of them, if not all of them
have been contact injuries. Those you can’t really avoid, 100%. I
do my part with being in the weight room, making sure my body is
right to stay healthy. But you have to have a little bit of luck,”
he said before attempting to speak the rest into existence.
"I’m going to take my game to the next level because my body is
going to be healthy, and that’s it.”
Never having been short on confidence, Porzingis’ assurance
shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
But with baited breath, the Wizards are now awaiting the