Kyrie Irving met with Mavericks general manager Nico Harrison and expressed his gratitude for how he was treated by the organization. Harrison, in turn, told the media on Tuesday that re-signing Irving is the organization’s top priority this offseason, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
“I think the things that he said along the way about how he feels here, how he feels appreciated, how he feels accepted and allowed to be himself — those are the things that he said kind of consistently,” Harrison said. “That’s what gives me the optimism that he wants to be here.”
The Mavs went 7-18 after the blockbuster trade with the Nets that sent Irving to Dallas and dropped out of the playoff race. They had an 5-11 record when both Irving and Luka Doncic played.
Yet Harrison insists they can thrive in the long-term.
“I think Luka and Kai work together,” he said. “I think when we have that talented of a player — that talented of two players — I think they work together. I really think it’s the players around them … kind of knowing their role with having those two guys out on the floor at the same time. I think that’s the thing that we need to work on.”
Irving declined to meet with the media after the season.
Whether Dallas will offer Irving a maximum contract, or something close to it, remains to be seen. He is eligible for a five-year, $272MM contract with the Mavericks or a four-year, $201.7MM deal with another team.
Doncic told the media he wants to the organization to re-sign Irving. The Mavs have some internal concerns about whether Doncic might request a trade next offseason if the team doesn’t show significant progress in 2023/24, sources within the organization have told MacMahon.
Harrison says it’s his responsibility to make sure Doncic doesn’t feel the need to request a trade.
“He’s under contract, so I don’t go to sleep at night worried about, ‘Is Luka going to be a Maverick?’ Because he is a Maverick, and he’s under contract. Obviously, if that changes, then we’ll have to reevaluate it,” Harrison said. “But I think our job really to keep Luka happy, if you will, is surrounding him by the right players to help him win.”