Dallas Mavericks forward Kristaps Porzingis has fully recovered from a torn ACL he suffered over a year ago, which makes his decision to sit out the remainder of this season that much more difficult to adhere to.
"It's so weird that I'm not able to - I am able to, but I'm not playing yet," Porzingis told ESPN's Tim MacMahon. "It's the game day and I feel like it's the game day, but you just pick a suit and you wear it and you're there. And I try to be in the moment when I'm there with the team and help as much as I can without being able to be on the floor, but it's very, very, very tough. Tougher than I expected."
The 23-year-old Latvian recently participated in his first five-on-five practice and has resumed full basketball activity. The decision to not play until 2019-20 was made shortly after the injury occurred, with the goal being that the prolonged rehabilitation time will improve his odds of a long and healthy career.
"I'm not going to rush anything," Porzingis said. "Of course I want to play. Three months out of the surgery, I was like, I think I can start playing maybe. It's been on my mind the whole time.
"I'm really proud of myself for staying this patient with the knee and taking my time. There hasn't been a lot of cases of a 7-foot-3 guy tearing his ACL. The good thing about the injury is it was a contact injury. If it was not a contact injury, that would be much more dangerous for me. But it was a contact injury. That means my body mechanics are fine. Now what I've been doing is just getting better with them. I'll keep doing that the whole summer, keep working on my body, keep strengthening my joints, my knees, my ankles, my posture, everything."
The Mavericks' front office was aware of Porzingis' plans to sit out when it acquired him from the New York Knicks in late January. The franchise still intends to sign the soon-to-be restricted free agent to a five-year, $158-million max contract this summer.
Porzingis averaged 17.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and two blocks on 43.7 percent shooting across three seasons in the Big Apple.