Kyrie Irving is known for being mercurial, but he seems pleased with his new role on the Mavericks, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (subscriber link). It’s a small sample size (six games), but Irving has been acting as more of a facilitator and secondary play-maker alongside Luka Doncic, with the 31-year-old averaging a career-high 7.3 assists and 18.2 shots per game, his fewest attempts since 2017/18.
“I feel like that’s kind of a cop-out,” Irving said of emphasizing individual statistics. “The focus is really on our team wins, our team camaraderie — and how do I make sure I get the best out of my teammates every single night, despite what I’m doing out there scoring-wise.”
Here’s more from the Southwest:
- The Mavericks are off to a strong start, currently sitting at 6-2. However, one of their weaknesses was exposed in Wednesday’s loss to Toronto with rookie center Dereck Lively sidelined due to an illness, according to Townsend (subscriber-only). Dallas was obliterated down low, outscored by 32 in the paint and outrebounded by 12. “We were soft in the interior, in the paint,” Irving said. “When you have your head coach (Jason Kidd) calling you soft, you’ve got to take that personally and take that as a challenge.” As impressive as Lively has been at times, it’s unreasonable to expect a 19-year-old with limited experience to be the primary anchor of a top-end defense, and the Mavs will need to figure out how to control the paint when he’s unavailable, Townsend writes.
- Steven Adams underwent successful surgery on Thursday to repair his right posterior ligament and is expected to make a full recovery prior to next season, the Grizzlies announced (via Twitter). The team’s starting center will unfortunately miss the entire 2023/24 season.
- Will Guillory of The Athletic (Twitter link) provides an injury update on Pelicans wing Trey Murphy, who is recovering from meniscus surgery on his left knee. According to Guillory, Murphy has been running prior to games, playing 1-on-1 against assistant coaches and is making good progress, but he’s still “at least a few weeks away” from returning to action.