On September 2, Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report published a column called “Realistic Trades That Would Shock the NBA In 2023-24.” In the story, Buckley proposed that the Dallas Mavericks trade Kyrie Irving to the Philadelphia 76ers for James Harden.
“What if the Sixers and Mavericks tried scratching the other’s back in a one-for-one swap of scoring guards? It would certainly be an interesting plot twist in the Harden sweepstakes and the latest of many surprises in Irving’s career,” Buckley wrote. “It just might work, too.”
“Irving’s superior scoring punch and ability to deliver on the playoff stage could be more appealing to Philly, since it won’t want to run Embiid ragged and could want to increase Tyrese Maxey’s playmaking responsibilities. Dallas also might covet Harden’s distributing and ability to get to the free-throw line. Both could ease the offensive burden on Dončić, whose 35.6 usage percentage is tops all-time among players with 2,000-plus career minutes.”
Harden has requested a trade from the Sixers and wants to get traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. However, Philadelphia can trade Harden anywhere since the former MVP and 10-time All-Star doesn’t have a no-trade clause in his contract.
Irving re-signed with the Mavericks on the first day of free agency this summer on a three-year, $126 million contract. The eight-time All-Star has a 15% trade kicker in his new contract with Dallas, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.
“Each club could be convinced that it can squeeze a little more out of the incoming player than the other team has,” Buckley wrote. “Who knows if either would be proven right, but it would be fascinating to see them take the challenge.”
In 58 games for the Sixers last season, Harden averaged 21.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 10.7 assists. He led the NBA in assists per game for the second time in his career.
Analyst Says Kyrie Irving, Luka Doncic Pairing Doesn’t Work
Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report doesn’t believe the Irving-Luka Doncic pairing works for the Mavericks due to defensive issues. Dallas was only 5-11 in games Irving and Doncic played together last season.
“The bigger question in Dallas is similar to the one in Cleveland: Hiding one defensive-deficient player is a challenge, but two? Irving doesn’t have the height (6’2″) and rarely shows enough consistent effort on the defensive side of the ball,” Pincus wrote on September 5. “At least Dončić is a legit 6’7″, which can somewhat diminish what he doesn’t do on defense. The Mavericks may need more athletes and long-rangy defenders (who ideally can shoot the three-point shot) to cover the ground that Irving and Dončić give up defensively.”
Harden, like Irving, isn’t an elite defender either, so Buckley’s proposed trade doesn’t make much sense for the Mavericks to make, especially since Harden becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Luka Doncic’s Teammate Says Mavericks Star Is ‘Really Taking Care of His Body’
According to Doncic’s Slovenian teammate Mike Tobey, the Mavericks superstar is “really taking care of his body” and has improved his nutrition this summer.
Doncic has looked noticeably slimmer while playing for Slovenia in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
“I’d say I feel he’s a little bit more rested,” Tobey said, via Cesare Milanti of Eurohoops.net. “He looks fresh and in shape, he’s really taking care of his body and himself a lot more seriously this summer. You can tell it by his nutrition, by how he looks: he’s in a lot better shape. I really see a big step forward in that part of his professionalism. He seems to be more focused.”