Mavs Embrace Extreme Highs, Lows With Kyrie


And just like that, the first major domino of NBA trade season fell.

Kyrie Irving? Talk about totally out of left field.

Irving returns to the media spotlight yet again, with just a few days left before the league’s trade deadline. This time, it has nothing to do with flat-earth talk or other puzzling behavior from his playing career.

Brooklyn traded Irving to Dallas on Sunday for Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie, a first-round pick and two second-round picks. The transaction became finalized on Monday despite reported interest from the Nets in expanding the deal to include a third team.

From the lens of the Mavs, the franchise acquired Irving despite other asset-heavy deals on the table with the Lakers and Suns. It’s an impressive feat for Dallas, who was under the gun to make a big-time deal to give perennial MVP candidate Luka Doncic some help.

Just like that, another All-Star and arguably All-NBA nod jumped ship to a new team. The Irving trade possesses a case to be the most fascinating and headline-heavy deal of this year (especially given the short- and long-term implications for both Brooklyn and Dallas).

For simplicity’s sake, let’s focus solely on the Mavs’ angle to this deal. How will Doncic and Irving fit together on the court, especially in the postseason? Is Irving a long-term piece for Dallas, and will he re-sign with the team? What’s to make of the assets and players shipped over to Brooklyn?

Ask and you shall be answered.

What are the assets in play with this deal?

A half-full, half-empty glass presents itself when looking at Irving solely for his value. On the one hand, interest clearly was there from other teams to acquire him. On the other hand, Dallas basically traded DFS and a few mostly-invaluable picks to upgrade from Dinwiddie to Kyrie.

For starters, Dallas deserves some props for landing Irving, an All-Star starter this year averaging north of 27 points per game for the third time in four seasons.

However, concern remains over the “what-comes-next” portion of Irving’s tenure with Dallas.

Irving’s future in Brooklyn correlated with him wanting out of there and requesting a trade to a new team, even though he was on the record saying he had no plans to do that.

The Nets reportedly refused to give Irving the max contract he was looking for. Brooklyn possessed the ability to offer him a four-year, $190 million max contract or a five-year, $245 million max deal. However, the franchise didn’t want to commit to Irving long term.

There are some clear benefits and risks to weigh here. Yes, Irving is a proven offensive star who fits perfectly next to the Doncic’s and Kevin Durant‘s of the world. But concerns with his durability and long-term desires are factors as well.

In a worst-case scenario, the Mavs traded its most-valuable reserve wing on a friendly contract and a 2029 first-round pick just for Irving to possibly bolt. Then again, would you commit Irving to a four- or five-year deal at max dollars?

Those are the tough questions that Dallas will have to answer later this summer.

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How does Irving fit on the Mavs?

For starters, Dallas’ offensive ceiling improves dramatically in the regular season. The Mavs are 0-7 (!!!) this season when Doncic hasn’t played.

Even with Luka, Dallas’ offense doesn’t rank as high despite Doncic’s superb statistical season. The Mavs rank 24th in points per game this season after finishing 24th last season. Most of that stems from the rest of Dallas’ supporting cast. The supporting cast of Tim Hardaway Jr., Josh Green and company isn’t lighting the world on fire offensively anytime soon.

Irving’s scoring potential is legit, especially as the second star rather than the go-to creator. The team will likely stagger both players, making sure one of Doncic and Irving is on the court at all times to keep the offense afloat.

Statistically, Irving profiles as an improvement from Dinwiddie, who commands way more attention from opponent defenses. In his 143 career games with Brooklyn, Irving finished with the following averages:

35.8 minutes, 27.1 points, 49% shooting on 20.5 field goal attempts, 40% from three on 7.7 attempts, 91% from the foul line on 4.4 attempts, 4.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game


Conversely, defense remains the biggest concern for the Mavs. Dallas caught fire in 2021-2022 largely because of its defensive effort, finishing second in opponent points per game and sixth in defensive rating. This season, the Mavs rank 24th in defensive rating.

Losing DFS hurts the team’s perimeter defense while adding Irving means rolling out a defensively-liable backcourt.

Availability is also something to watch for, given Irving missed almost half of Brooklyn’s games in his nearly four years with the franchise (for context, Irving played in 143 of the Nets’ 278 games, or 51.4% of the team’s total games between 2019-2020 and this season).

Does the Irving trade affect Dallas’ title hopes?

Vegas seems to love the Irving move for the Mavs. Dallas sits with the seventh-best odds to win the championship at +1400. Before the trade, the Mavs were in the +3000 range.

That would place Dallas fourth in the Western Conference per FanDuel, ranking behind Denver, Memphis and Golden State. The Mavs also rank tied for fourth in most likely to win the conference behind those same franchises at +600.

In terms of the on-court product, there’s a lot to like with the move. At the same time, Irving’s availability remains a concern with plenty of season still left to go.

One could argue Dallas’ regular-season ceiling is about the same, but its playoff ceiling is slightly higher. Irving remains an All-Star scorer who has thrived in previous years as the Robin to another Batman. We could see the same play out in Dallas as it once did in Cleveland and Brooklyn.

Then again, the Mavs’ hopes begin and end with Irving. And as we’ve seen before, there’s a lot of baggage and uncertainty that comes with that.

About Dominic Chiappone

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