Dallas Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis is fully healthy after recovering from an ACL injury which kept him sidelined for 13 months, and despite there being nine games remaining on the schedule, he has no plans on returning to the court this season.
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"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."
Porzingis recently participated in five-on-five practice and has given fans a glimpse of what's to come, by making cameo appearances in pre-game shootarounds.
With the Mavs holding the second-worst record in the Western Conference (29-44), there is no rush on bringing Porzingis back until next season. The decision to hold out until the 2019/20 season was made at the time of the injury, taking a long-term approach to his rehabilitation.
"I'm not going to rush anything," Porzingis added. "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."
Kinda symbolic to see Dirk and Kristaps Porzingis working: pic.twitter.com/HJuJsORdyy- Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) March 23, 2019
The Mavs are set to lock up Porzingis long-term this off-season, with the 23-year-old restricted free agent eligible for a five-year, $158 million contract.
Through three seasons with the New York Knicks, Porzingis averaged 17.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and two blocks.