If all breaks right for Luka Doncic, he can dream of one day matching Steve Nash as an eight-time NBA All-Star, two-time MVP and Hall of Famer.
So, it’s noteworthy that Nash — in his first season coaching the Nets — sounds almost envious of Doncic’s talent and make-up, from one guard to another.
“Luka is one of the most exciting talents we’ve seen,” Nash said after Friday’s practice to prepare for facing Doncic and the Mavericks on Saturday night. “Do I see some of myself in him? If I were 6-foot-8 and 230 pounds, yeah. That’s a big difference when you’re 6-foot-2, 175 pounds.”
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and team president Donnie Nelson started the Nash-Doncic comparisons after a trade with the Hawks to acquire their new star during the 2018 NBA Draft. As Doncic burst onto the scene as a rookie, Nash, who was working for the Warriors as a consultant at the time, upped the ante by calling him “maybe the best 20-year-old the NBA has ever seen.”
Doncic will turn 22 on Sunday, and Nash’s high praise for the two-time All-Star hasn’t waned. Doncic has 33 career triple-doubles in the regular season and postseason combined — the most in NBA history at his age.
“That is such a weapon to be able to have that size, physicality, skill and feel for the game — and his personality,” Nash said. “He has a personality at such a young age to be able to take over NBA games. Very, very special repertoire or skill-set. He is a very, very unique player, even historically.”
Kevin Durant’s extended injury absence is the headline-grabber, but the Nets also could be without forward Jeff Green for a second straight game. He is listed as questionable with a right-shoulder contusion.
“We’re optimistic he’ll be back soon,” Nash said. “I can’t say for sure, but I think the feeling is that every day he’s getting better, not more concerned. Hopefully, he’s back quickly here. But, long-term, we don’t feel like this is a situation that can snowball into something worse.”
The Nets are shopping Spencer Dinwiddie as the March 25 trade deadline approaches, according to an ESPN report.
Dinwiddie suffered a season-ending torn ACL in December. He has a $12.3 million player option for next season on his three-year, $34 million contract, according to Spotrac.com, so it is logical any trade partner would require Dinwiddie to exercise his option and bypass free agency.
Former Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis is expected to return to New York on Saturday with the Mavericks. He has missed three straight games with lower back tightness, the latest chapter of the 25-year-old forward’s injury-plagued career.
Slightly more than two years after he was dealt by the Knicks to the Mavericks, with which he signed a five-year, $158 million max contract, Porzingis again is the subject of trade rumors.
“I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, and I shouldn’t be too worried about it,” Porzingis told reporters after Friday’s practice. “It can only distract me at the end of the day.”