The Lakers have long been linked to guard Kyrie Irving, who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
The eight-time All-Star sat courtside for Game 6 on Friday as the Lakers advanced to the second round and congratulated former teammate LeBron James in the arena tunnel after the game, writes Tim Cato of The Athletic (it’s worth noting Irving also sat courtside for Sunday’s Game 7 between Golden State and Sacramento).
Despite his obvious ties to James and Los Angeles’ previously rumored interest in Irving, the team doesn’t plan to pursue him in free agency, sources tell Cato. As Cato notes, the Lakers would have to shed several salaries — including multiple players they traded for that helped turn their season around — to create enough cap room to try and sign Irving.
The Mavericks, meanwhile, are still optimistic about their chances of re-signing Irving, and rival teams believe that’s the most likely outcome as well, according to Cato’s sources.
As Cato details, it was, by all accounts, an unpleasant season for Dallas. After reaching the Western Conference Finals in 2021/22, the Mavs regressed and went 38-44, missing the playoffs (and the play-in tournament). “I’m glad it’s over,” an unnamed player said before the final game of the season.
Cato points to the Mavericks’ inability to retain Jalen Brunson as the pivot point in their decline. Brunson has said multiple times he hoped to remain with Dallas, while owner Mark Cuban blamed Brunson’s father Rick for the guard’s departure.
Cuban recently claimed Brunson’s side never gave the Mavs an offer he would accept in free agency, but a team source tells Cato that Brunson’s agents did reach out to the Mavs to inquire about a potential offer, only to be told that it would be revealed at a meeting, which was ultimately cancelled.
Either way, it’s clear that the Mavs didn’t value Brunson as much as the Knicks did, and the Mavericks were left to pick up the pieces.
One acquisition Dallas seemed to sour on throughout the season was big man Christian Wood, another unrestricted free agent who is not expected to be brought back, according to Cato.
Cato’s story features several more details on the Mavericks’ “season of misery” and their potential offseason plans, and is worth checking out in full for readers who subscribe to The Athletic.