The Dallas Mavericks have made a gigantic move in acquiring Kyrie Irving. Irving is the most talented player Luka Doncic has ever played with. Irving won a title playing next to a similarly multi skilled gigantic playmaker in Lebron James. The on-court fit between the two is potentially seamless. The off-court issues cannot be dismissed, but I am simply not a good enough writer to adequately discuss them so I will stick to the on-court.
Doncic and Irving is the most talented offensive backcourt in the history of the NBA. That may seem hyperbolic, but it really might be the case. Irving was the first overall pick in the NBA draft and Doncic should have been. They can both run the show by themselves for 12 minutes a game and share the court for the remaining 24. But the Mavericks still aren’t good enough to win a title as presently constructed.
Christian Wood is an incredibly gifted basketball player. He is a better defender than some of his criticism would have you believe. But a rotation with Wood, Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell is not enough frontcourt defensive fire power to win a ring. The most recent NBA champions have all had an elite front court defender such as Draymond Green, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis etc. All due respect to Kleber, he is not in that class of defender, nor do the Mavericks make up for it with group front court defense.
The Mavericks have been on the clock since they drafted Doncic. “With great power comes great responsibility,” is the most famous quote from Spiderman. In the modern NBA, drafting a superstar is a lot like being Spiderman. With a great player, comes a responsibility to surround them with talent befitting their status. Trading for Irving speeds up that clock.
Lonesome Dove is one of the seminal western stories in history. Augustus Mcrae says many memorable things but one of them could apply to Irving, “Jake has always been too leaky a vessel for anyone to put much hope in.” Multiple teams have placed a ton of hope in Irving. They have all regretted it eventually.
What is done is done. Nico Harrison was brought in to weaponize his relationships, and he has done so. The Mavericks have now made blockbuster trades in both of his seasons as general manager. He needs to make another. Because the clock has been sped up, there is no reason for the Mavericks to hold any of their chips back.
At some point, things will fall apart. The question is not if things will end badly with Irving, but when they will do so. The best way to make sure that the Mavericks reap the most from this Faustian bargain is to extract as much current value as possible. That means that they need to push all of their chips in.
The Mavericks should be able to remove the protections from the final pick owed to the New York Knicks. If they do so, they can deal a 2025 and 2027 first round picks as well as multiple swaps. They can package Christian Wood, who is on an expiring contract, Jaden Hardy and those picks. That is an enticing package for a team such as the Toronto Raptors who appear to be in need of a move.
The Raptors have both Pascal Siakam and O.G. Anunoby who would be fantastic fits in Dallas. Doncic, Irving, Josh Green, Kleber and either of the Raptors would be a formidable “Death lineup.” The Mavericks would be the type of team they have been trying to build around Doncic since he arrived. They would be a legitimate threat to win a title. For all of the ways that things could wrong, that is not a statement that appeared to be forthcoming regarding the Mavericks 24 hours ago. But it only matters if they realize that they are not done.
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