Though NBA Free Agency isn’t for several months, the Kyrie Irving question looms large over the off-season. Earlier this week, we asked what people expect Dallas will do in terms of retaining Irving. Now, comes a question to the staff: do you want the Mavericks to re-sign him?
Ben: I’m not interested in the Mavericks bringing back Irving for a multitude of reasons. Setting aside the off court baggage of the controversy that got him suspended in Brooklyn, Irving has shown himself to be unpredictable and injury prone. He’s only appeared in 163 games the last four seasons, an average of 41 games per year. 2022-23 was the first season he’s played 60 or more games since 2018-19, his last season in Boston. The fact that this came in the last year of his contract is not a coincidence. It’s not worth paying a player north of $30 million per year if he’s only going to play around 40-50 games. Then you have to keep in mind that while Irving elevates the offense, there comes a point of diminishing returns on that end. The Mavericks offense was elite with Irving and Luka Doncic on the floor. It didn’t matter. They went 5-11 when Doncic and Irving both played, because Irving didn’t solve the Mavericks’ problem: defense. Moving Irving for a few players who can defend would be the better course.
David: The Mavericks have to re-sign Kyrie Irving, because that’s what they committed to when they traded for him. Whether or not I want him on the roster next season is a different question (of which the answer is no, I would like a sign and trade to even out the roster). If Irving walks the Mavericks are doomed. They will have limited cap space and no great free agents to use it on, and will be out a second star with almost no way of getting another one without depleting the roster even more. Yes, I would like Dallas to re-sign Irving because they have to.
Matt: If the options are re-sign Kyrie or Let Kyrie walk, you have to re-sign him. Dallas is simply too bereft of talent to let a player they gave up useful assets for walk out the door after 20 games. If Dallas loses Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie, an unprotected first and two second round picks for a Kyrie tryout? That’s organizational malfeasance. Now, if you ask me whether I’d rather have Kyrie on the team or swap him for something else, I’d take whatever’s behind door number two. I’m just not all that interested in maxing out a 31-year old point guard who can’t stay on the floor. Toronto has indicated they’re open for business, and an early exit for Phoenix could increase the chances they’d do a panicky trade for someone with Kyrie’s talent. Dallas should look hard into moving him to any suitor they can find, but they need to extract at least some value from the transaction.
Matthew: The Mavericks made the decision to do whatever was necessary to resign Kyrie Irving and all of his baggage the day they decided to trade for him. Mark Cuban has a history of letting offensively talented point guards leave for nothing in free agency, but lightning can’t strike three times right? Losing him for nothing is an even bigger doomsday scenario than signing him to a toxic contract.
DW: I find it hard to believe that the Mavericks would have given up what they did to get Kyrie, without at least some kind of indication he would re-sign. Frankly, I actually enjoyed watching this team again after the trade. His basketball IQ, tempo and overall compliments from his teammates has me hoping we re-sign him
Xavier: I think his presence makes our margin for error razor thin when it comes to building around Luka. Having a traffic cone at the point of attack means that it’s harder to hide Luka. Kyrie is on the wrong side of 30, has a history of injuries, and can’t be trusted. That being said, the Mavs have made their bed and must now lie in it. He has all the leverage and if he truly doesn’t have a market we have to wonder why we should be the team willing to give him what he wants when no one else has prioritized him in a meaningful way.
Brent: We all want to be wanted. Jalen Brunson knew the Mavericks had tried in consecutive seasons to package him and were unable to find the deal they were looking for. This had to factor into his calculus to leave Dallas in the rearview mirror - the simple desire to not be trade fodder.
Kyrie is a different dude at a different point in his timeline. His priority - one might surmise - is the last big contract of his career and finding a team willing to give him that bag. After he has it, his priorities can shift back to whatever falls second to ensuring he locks in this payday before his stock falters anymore than it already has.
He represents more value than anyone Dallas could muster with the cap space they might be left with and the sign and trade options floated around do not excite me (ie. Ayton). So yes, bring him back.
The Mavericks and Irving need each other in this dark, strange timeline. Brace yourselves for whatever comes next. This is what failing the marshmallow test feels like. (edited)
Kirk: I was not interested in the trade for Irving before it happened for a variety of reasons, but now that it’s happened, they’re in for all of it. Unless they can find a mutually beneficial sign-and-trade, the Mavericks just need to pay him and come what may. We’re all casually ignoring the iceberg in front of this Dallas ship and the end might be here a lot sooner than expected. Might as well go down with wild swings.