Dallas Mavericks forward Kristaps Porzingis has been upgraded and could make his season debut Monday night against the New Orleans Pelicans.

And not a moment too soon for the Mavericks, who are shorthanded with the absences of Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith, Josh Richardson and Jalen Brunson, all sidelined in the league's health and safety protocols. Kleber and one other tested positive for COVID-19 while the other two are in quarantine as close contacts.

Porzingis has been practicing for two weeks after undergoing surgery in October to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee. He sustained the injury in mid-August during the Mavericks' first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers. He was upgraded Sunday to questionable for Monday night's game.

The 7-foot-3 Porzingis said two weeks ago that he doesn't want to have any reservations about the readiness of the knee when he returns to action.

"Once I step on the court, I won't have any doubts or second thoughts," he said. "I don't want to have that adaptation time while I'm already playing. Once I start playing, I want to play at a high level right away."

Porzingis, 25, has been through the rehab process before. He suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in February 2018 when he was with the New York Knicks and missed the rest of that campaign and the entire 2018-19 season.

He was traded to the Mavericks in 2019 while he was sitting out and played well in his first season with the club. He averaged 20.4 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots in 57 games last season.

Porzingis was enjoying a strong playoff series against the Clippers before he was hurt. He averaged 23.7 points and 8.7 rebounds and made 9 of 17 3-point attempts (52.9 percent) in the three games.

--Field Level Media

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