This season was a complete mess for the Dallas Mavericks.
There were some promising moments, and Luka Doncic churned out the best statistical season of his young career, but they failed to even qualify for the Play-In Tournament. For a team with a perennial MVP candidate leading the way, that’s unacceptable.
Trading for Kyrie Irving at the deadline was a huge risk, and while it didn’t pan out in the short term, they still have time to make it work. Well, if Luka Doncic can get on board, that is.
According to sources who spoke with Steve Bulpett of Heavy Sports, Doncic was happy with the move and is fond of Irving, but he’s having trouble giving up the on-court responsibilities.
“I do think there’s some skepticism going forward for what they’re going to offer him,” an anonymous GM told Bulpett. “Like they’re not completely naïve. But Kyrie’s behavior was excellent. It was more the fact that Luka had to adjust to playing with such a great player. Everyone there has been saying Kyrie is incredible, and that’s in private, too. Luka’s said it and he means it. But I think that he just doesn’t want to share. He just doesn’t know how. He’s out there on the court and the ball has been in his hands; no matter what, it’s his ball. And now there’s actually consideration that I might need to pass the ball to somebody else and let them do the magic, instead of me just waiting for the clock to run down and shoot a step-back 3 from the hash mark.”
For the entirety of his time in Dallas, Doncic has been the head of the snake. Unequivocally so. But with another superstar in town, he won’t have to do it all by himself.
That may sound like a positive, but if he is hesitant to share, then it simply won’t work.
GM Blames Mavericks Defensive Woes for Struggles
Meanwhile, another GM noted that the Mavericks’ biggest issue has nothing to do with Doncic and Irving—it has to do with their defense.
“The challenge there is not Luka and Kyrie. The problem us they don’t have ANYBODY that plays really good defense,” he told Heavy. “None of those guys plays defense. Luka has never played defense before, but because he’s 6-8 and he’s 240 or 250, he can hold his own around the basket against bigger guys and get the rebounds for his triple-doubles. But they need to get three or four good defenders if they want to be a team that has a real chance to play for something. They lost some of their best defenders when they made the trade for Kyrie. That was the sacrifice they made. But that’s the way it goes. It doesn’t always work out. Trades for stars don’t always work out.”
Lakers ‘Disinterested’ in Landing Mavericks’ Kyrie Irving
When Irving joined the Mavericks at the trade deadline, much of the buzz around him involved the Los Angeles Lakers. And now that he’ll be an unrestricted free agent, most believed he could end up there anyways.
But according to Tim Cato of The Athletic, the Lakers are “disinterested” in a move for Irving this summer.
“No matter how close Irving might be to James, the Lakers are disinterested in pursuing him in free agency, say league sources, who like all unnamed sources in this article were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly,” Cato reported. “To acquire him would require jettisoning several deadline acquisitions who have helped revitalize their season and land them in a second-round series against the Golden State Warriors.”