Welcome to the Dallas Mavericks, Kyrie Irving.
The Mavericks have traded for the Brooklyn Nets’ uber-talented, controversial All-Star, according to multiple people familiar with the deal.
The Nets will also send reserve power forward/center Markieff Morris to Dallas in exchange for starters Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith, a 2029 first-round pick and second-round picks in 2027 and 2029.
After previous executives failed to land a co-star next to Luka Doncic despite trying with a blockbuster Kristaps Porzingis trade, general manager Nico Harrison and Co. took their biggest — and riskiest — swing four days before the NBA’s Thursday trade deadline.
On the court: Irving’s addition appears to be a standout fit next to Doncic.
Irving, who turns 31 on March 23, is an eight-time All-Star who won an NBA title with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016. This season, Irving is averaging 27.1 points, 5.3 assists and 5.1 rebounds in 37 minutes through 40 games.
He’s shooting 48.6% from the floor, 37.4% from 3-point range and — notably for the Mavericks’ clutch-time free throw woes — 88.3% from the foul line.
Off the court: Irving’s outlook remains a concern.
In the fall, the Nets suspended him for eight games after he promoted an antisemitic film filled with Holocaust conspiracy theories on social media and refused to apologize. The controversy overshadowed the Nets’ early championship hopes and fueled drama around the team’s losing start that included the firing of coach Steve Nash.
Also since his Nets tenure started in 2019, Irving has:
- Taken a weekslong, unexplained personal break from the team.
- Refused to be vaccinated for COVID-19 to comply with New York City’s stadium mandates, prompting him to miss all but 29 games last season.
- Declared his intention to co-manage the franchise with the Nets’ ownership and general manager.
- Requested a trade Friday after the Nets declined to give him a long-term contract extension before the Thursday trade deadline.
Irving is in the final season of a four-year, $136.5 million deal, making $36.5 million during 2022-23. Morris, who has averaged 3.6 points and 2.2 rebounds in 10.6 minutes as a fringe rotation player this season, will also be an unrestricted free agent this offseason after his $2.9 million veteran-minimum deal expires.
The Mavericks’ swap of Dinwiddie ($20.2 million salary for 2022-23) and Finney-Smith ($12.4 million) satisfies the NBA’s rules regarding player trades being within 125% (plus $100,000) in exchanges by luxury tax-paying teams.
But what about Irving’s future in Dallas beyond this deal?
The Mavericks believe their leadership and history with Irving will help manage his personal baggage and foster a cohesive partnership with Doncic.
Before taking over the Mavericks’ front office in 2021, Harrison served as a longtime executive for Nike, where Irving held a lucrative sponsorship and custom shoe line before the company severed ties because of the antisemitic controversy in the fall.
Growing up, Irving also admired Jason Kidd as a Hall of Fame point guard and attended his 2018 Hall of Fame induction ceremony with their shared personal trainer, Robin Pound. Kidd, as Mavericks head coach, has fostered a culture of accountability and honesty that has helped previous acquisitions who had locker room concerns assimilate.
News of the trade broke about an hour before the Mavericks were scheduled to leave San Francisco after Saturday’s loss to the Golden State Warriors and fly to Salt Lake City ahead of Monday’s contest against the Utah Jazz.
Neither Dinwiddie nor Finney-Smith emerged from the hotel before the team’s buses departed, but a person familiar with the Mavericks’ approach to the trade said Dallas’ leadership spoke with both Sunday morning.
Dinwiddie, who joined Dallas in the Porzingis trade with the Washington Wizards before last season’s trade deadline, appeared to harbor no hard feelings.
He posted on Twitter to thank Mavericks fans, call his one-year tenure “immaculate vibes” and joke that his 4-year-old son, Elijah, was eager to move back to Brooklyn, where his dad played from 2016-21.
Finney-Smith, meanwhile, likely needed to finalize many logistical issues before his abrupt move to Brooklyn.
Finney-Smith earned Dallas’ last roster spot as an undrafted rookie in 2016 and developed into one of the league’s most underrated 3-point shooting and defensive specialists. His appreciative demeanor, penchant for trash talk and playful sense of humor made him one of Doncic’s favorite teammates and endeared him to Mavericks fans throughout his six-plus seasons.
Finney-Smith’s soon-to-be teenage daughter Sinai — the oldest of his three kids, few dogs and new race horse — had recently asked him about trade rumors and whether their family would have to move from her school, friends and travel basketball team.
In an ironic twist, Dinwiddie spoke at length Saturday night about the personal difficulties of the trade deadline and highlighted Finney-Smith as a teammate he’s helped cope with the speculation of this cycle.
“You can’t get too emotional, too up and down,” Dinwiddie said Saturday. “Basically, what I tell anybody — including myself when I look in the mirror — it’s an honor to be in trade rumors, right? Because that means other people want you, especially when you’re talking about high-caliber guys.
“Somebody like Doe, for example, it just means all the defense, all the hard work, how he built himself up as a 3-point shooter, where he came from as undrafted, I believe, and now he is a hot commodity and his stock is very high to be seen in that conversation. So it should be a moment of being proud and understanding that business is business.”
The next afternoon, the Mavericks’ move for Irving ended that uncertainty for both.
More on the Mavericks’ trade for Kyrie Irving...
— Who did the Dallas Mavericks trade to land Kyrie Irving?
— Dallas Mavericks aren’t done making moves after Kyrie Irving trade, source says
— Kyrie Irving could turn Mavericks’ dream backcourt with Luka Doncic into a nightmare
— Mavericks’ Kyrie Irving trade sacrifices culture for NBA title shot. Will it be worth it?
— All of Kyrie Irving’s Mavericks connections: Can Jason Kidd, Nico Harrison keep stability?
— Kyrie Irving in Dallas: See national reaction to Mavericks’ trade for star guard
— 10 things to know about newest Maverick Kyrie Irving, from big shots to big controversies
— Do Mavs have draft picks available post-Kyrie Irving trade to upgrade around Luka Doncic?
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