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Kyrie Irving traded to the Dallas Mavericks in blockbuster move

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Taken by Erik Drost

On Feb. 3, Kyrie Irving shocked the NBA world with a trade request from the Brooklyn Nets after failing to come to an agreement on a long-term contract extension with the franchise. 

Contract negotiations broke down between the Nets and Irving’s agent after Brooklyn maintained their reluctance to “rush into a long-term commitment without further evidence that Irving could stay reliable, perform at a high level and remain controversy-free,” this according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Immediately after the request, fans and analysts alike began theorizing a potential trade to the Los Angeles Lakers, facilitating a reunion between Irving and his Cleveland Cavaliers teammate LeBron James. Other teams mentioned as interested included the Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks. 

Two days later, it was announced that the Dallas Mavericks, owned by celebrity entrepreneur Mark Cuban, were trading for Irving. Included in the package for the now-former Nets all-star were guard Spencer Dinwiddie, forward Dorian Finney-Smith, a 2029 first-round pick, and two second-round picks. Along with Irving, the Nets are sending the Mavs journeyman forward, Markieff Morris. 

The Mavericks, led by young superstar Luka Doncic, are currently 28-26, good for sixth place in the Western Conference at the moment. After drafting Doncic in 2017, the Mavericks have improved every year, culminating in a Western Conference Finals berth last season in which they were promptly swept by the Golden State Warriors. 

The move signals a strong desire from the front office of the Mavericks to keep Luka in Dallas. In many ways, the beginning of Doncic’s career resembles that of LeBron James – both drafted to a team struggling to secure playoff berths and both putting up unbelievable statistics en route to success not seen in recent team history. 

However, in the case of James and the Cavs, the success eventually became stale when it was clear that without more help, the team could not reach the ultimate peak – an NBA Championship. For this reason, James made the famous decision to take his talents to South Beach and the Miami Heat, where he eventually secured his elusive first championship. 

Doncic has gone his entire, albeit short, NBA career without playing with another All-Star, and for years, fans have been clamoring for the Mavericks to surround him with more help. If this continued, and the team began to stagnate, it seems inevitable that Doncic would emulate LeBron’s decision to seek a team where he felt he had a real chance to secure a championship. This trade is in part an attempt to prevent that from happening. 

However, Kyrie Irving is anything but a surefire way to achieve that goal. While his on-court talent is undeniable, his off-court behavior has significantly affected the on-court results of his previous two teams. 

After falling to the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals as a member of the Cavaliers, Irving requested a trade, eventually ending up as a member of the Boston Celtics. After getting injured late in his first season as a Celtic, the extremely young team almost reached the NBA Finals but fell a game short. 

With Irving, the general public then mused, the Celtics would be a lock to make the Finals. However, after some strange, passive-aggressive comments from Irving were made about the young players on the team, the Celtics massively underachieved, falling in five games to the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the playoffs. 

After his brief time as a Celtic, Irving, along with star forward Kevin Durant, signed with the Brooklyn Nets in free agency, hoping to establish a culture of winning in the New York franchise. However, as a member of the Nets, the mercurial guard has been embroiled in scandal after injury after scandal.

His 1st two seasons with the Nets were cut short due to injury, while his 3rd was also cut short, but this time due to his refusal to receive the COVID vaccine. This, and as it turns out, his final season with the Nets, Irving was suspended for five games due to his sharing of an anti-Semitic documentary on Twitter. 

Since his departure from the Cavaliers, Irving has never made it past the 2nd round of the playoffs, despite playing with multiple all-stars in Kevin Durant, James Harden, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown. 

The Mavericks are gambling that Irving’s massive on-court talent will overcome his habit of sabotaging teams with his off-court behavior. If the gamble works out, the Mavericks will be showering in confetti after securing their 1st championship in 12 years. If it doesn’t, the Mavericks may be on the precipice of Luka following in the footsteps of LeBron James and leaving the Mavericks in one of the worst situations in the league. 

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