Season in Review
The Dallas Mavericks acquired Kyrie Irving ahead of the NBA trade deadline. The Mavericks traded away fan favorite Dorian Finney-Smith along with Spencer Dinwiddie and an unprotected 2029 first. That pick has the potential of being a big loss if the Mavericks cannot build a contender to suit Luka Doncic, and he is gone.
Irving was individually brilliant with the Mavericks. He averaged 27 points, five rebounds and six assists per game on 63.4 true shooting percentage after joining the team. He very nearly qualified for the fabled 50/40/90 shooting club with the Mavericks but fell just short. He shot 51 percent from the field, 39.2 percent from three, and 94.7 percent from the free throw line.
Unfortunately, as has been the case throughout Irving’s career when parted from Lebron James, his individual brilliance did not directly correlate to winning. The Mavericks were 8-12 in the 20 games he played before making the much-maligned (but correct) decision to tank the final two games.
Irving’s best game with the Mavericks was March 2, 2023 against the Philadelphia 76ers. Irving scored 40 points on 81.2 percent true-shooting percentage. Most importantly this game was the game that showed the potential of Irving’s brilliance to amplify rather than restrict Doncic’s brilliance. Doncic also had 42 points and 12 assists meaning that the dynamic duo combined for 82 points and 18 assists. They did this against the 76ers team that had Joel Embiid who would go on to win Most Valuable Player.
Irving is a free agent and the subject of much debate as to what will happen. There have been rumors of a handshake deal between Irving and the Mavericks but given Irving’s history, anything is in play.
The Mavericks have put themselves in a precarious position. Irving is a difficult player to build around given his unreliability. He is also a breathtaking talent with a history of winning a title with a similar huge lead playmaker in Lebron James. If the Mavericks resign Irving and things go wrong, they will be the fourth team to bet big on Kyrie only to eventually regret it. If he leaves as a free agent, he will be the third star guard the Mavericks have lost for nothing during Mark Cuban’s tenure as owner.
While the move for Irving appeared to be an all-in move for this season, it wasn’t. The move left the Mavericks with only one wing on the roster.(Reggie Bullock) No team in the current NBA is going to win a title with that build. However, it gave the Mavericks the second superstar they have long coveted to pair with Doncic. Players who can create offense the way Irving can are much harder to acquire than three-and-d wings.
The trade was made to be a building block for the next three to four seasons. It is impossible to grade a trade that was made to improve the team in subsequent seasons before those seasons happen.