Southwest Notes: Irving, Mavericks, Pelicans, Biberovic

After being the center of controversy in previous stops, Kyrie Irving has found peace and contentment with the Mavericks, Eddie Sefko of writes.

“From the outside, you look at his calmness, he’s at peace,” said coach Jason Kidd, who received an extension on Monday. “And sometimes at a certain age in life, that comes about. But also, with the people he’s around maybe . . . that could also have something to do with it. But you can see, he’s smiling, he’s happy and he’s been that way, I think, since he arrived last year at the trade deadline. I thought you saw that he was happy and at peace. And he’s been very consistent with that to this point. I think he’s just happy.”

Irving concurs that he’s matured and become a more positive person.

“What you’re seeing now is a version of me that I’m proud of,” he said. “I look at myself every day in the mirror and give myself affirmations. I meditate, I pray. I’m just more consistent in my daily practices to help me stay grounded. Part of knowing who you are is knowing where you came from.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • The acquisition of Irving last season was highly controversial but Mavericks general manager Nico Harrison is happy he didn’t listen to the skeptics. Dallas retained Irving with a three-year, $126MM contract last offseason. “I’m thankful for the decision now, and I think everybody around the organization is, too,” Harrison told Marc Spears of Andscape. “But it’s awesome just to get to see him be himself. And it’s funny when if you talk to any of our teammates, they’re going to be like, ‘Yeah, it’s really weird that there was ever any negativity around Kyrie, I just don’t see it. He’s such a positive person. He’s always smiling and happy, and I don’t get it.’”
  • Even though Maxi Kleber is sidelined, the Mavericks should have a favorable matchup against the top-seeded Thunder, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News opines. They have in-season acquisition Daniel Gafford and Dereck Lively to provide a physical presence around the basket against Thunder rookie big man Chet Holmgren. They also have two stars who can take over a game in Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, while Oklahoma City will be more dependent on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
  • The changes the Pelicans made to their medical staff last offseason can be considered a success, according to Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. He notes that Zion Williamson played in 70 games, the most in his NBA career, while Brandon Ingram appeared in 64 games, his most since his rookie year with the Lakers in 2016/17.
  • The Grizzlies added draft-and-stash prospect Tarik Biberovic with the No. 56 pick last June. He showed a lot of promise overseas this season, Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal notes. Playing for Fenerbahce in the Turkey Basketball Super League, Biberovic averaged a career-high 21.8 minutes and 10.4 points in 24 games, connecting on 40.7% of his 3-point attempts. In 25 EuroLeague games, Biberovic averaged 7.2 points and shot 56.9% on 3-pointers. All signs point to the wing playing another year overseas before potentially joining Memphis for the 2025/26 season, Cole adds.
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