Following the Dallas Mavericks' Game 7 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, Kristaps Porzingis was asked how he fits into the picture moving forward.
"Good question," Porzingis said. "How do I feel? I mean, I'm good. I tried to put in the work, tried to work hard. I do my part, listen to the coaches, what I'm asked to do, and that's it.
"I try to keep it simple for myself, so I'm not overthinking, and I try to focus on what I can control. That's being a better basketball player, going into the offseason hungry. I want to get better physically [and] on the basketball court. I'm going to put that work in to get better, and then the rest of the stuff will resolve itself."
When Porzingis was traded to the Mavericks, he expected to have a 1A-1B situation with Luka Doncic. While Doncic has become a perennial MVP candidate, Porzingis has regressed. Porzingis suffered a torn meniscus during the 2020 playoffs and only played in 43 games this regular season.
Porzingis is owed $101.5 million over the next three seasons, a contract widely viewed around the NBA as negative value.
Sources tell Tim MacMahon of ESPN that Porzingis has been frustrated as Doncic dominates the ball and the spotlight. Porzingis frequently made thinly veiled references during his postgame media availabilities, such as saying the "ball actually moved tonight" after high-scoring performances or stating that the offense didn't involve him on low-scoring nights.
Porzingis called it a "mental battle" after Game 7 to play a role that is not comfortable for him.
"And whatever I do, it seems like it's always something," Porzingis said, acknowledging the scrutiny on him. "I just try to be as professional as I can."