Kyrie Irving

Mavericks Notes: LeBron, Irving, Van Gundy, Draft

Although Kyrie Irving‘s desire to have the Mavericks trade for LeBron James is unrealistic, Dallas is a market the Lakers star would consider if he ever decides to leave L.A., Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack column. Sources tell Stein that the Mavs began investigating their chances of landing James last season before they acquired Irving in February. The organization understands that James would have to take the initiative in asking for a trade to Dallas for the move to become possible, according to Stein’s sources.

There’s no indication that James will consider requesting such a deal, Stein adds, with his family settled in Los Angeles and his oldest son committed to play for USC. Stein also points out that instead of trying to break up the team’s foundation of James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers opted to rebuild around them and wound up in the conference finals.

Stein’s theory is that it benefits Irving to show the Mavericks that he might have some value as a recruiter who can attract high-level talent to Dallas. It’s believed throughout the league that Dallas wants to re-sign him to a team-friendly contract, so reaching out to James may be a negotiating ploy.

Stein adds that not much has changed for either the Mavericks or the Lakers since their seasons ended. L.A.’s priority will be to keep free agents Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura, while the Mavs plan to re-sign Irving and try to trade their first-round pick for veteran help. Stein cites two sources who told him Monday that Irving is happy in Dallas and wants to stay there.

There’s more on the Mavericks:

  • Dallas will reach out to ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy to see if he is interested in returning to the sidelines as an assistant coach, Stein reports in another Substack piece. Van Gundy’s last NBA coaching job was 16 years ago, but he has done some international work with Team USA since then. League sources tell Stein that the Mavericks still have interest in adding Jeff Hornacek to Jason Kidd’s staff.
  • Tim Cato of The Athletic looks at seven potential trades the Mavs could make with their No. 10 pick. He proposes deals with the Raptors, Hawks, Nets, Kings and Pelicans.
  • If the Mavericks keep their pick, the new front office will focus more on athleticism and physicality more than shooting or other skills, Cato adds in a separate story. Team and league sources tell Cato that Dallas isn’t likely to have interest in Kansas sharpshooter Gradey Dick, who may still be on the board in that range.

“Unrealistic” For LeBron James To Get Traded To Mavs

It’s “unrealistic” that the Lakers would consider trading LeBron James to the Mavericks so that he could join forces with Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic, a source told Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

Irving, who is headed to free agency, reached out to his former Cavaliers teammate about the possibility of playing in Dallas. James has previously expressed his desire to play with Irving in Los Angeles and was disappointed when the Lakers didn’t acquire him at February’s trade deadline.

However, the Lakers aren’t interested in what the Mavericks might offer from their roster for their aging superstar, who hinted at retirement after the team was eliminated by Denver in the Western Conference Finals. Dallas doesn’t have the young talent outside of Doncic to entice the Lakers if James were to ask for a trade. Even multiple draft picks to sweeten the pot (Dallas owns the No. 10 pick) probably wouldn’t get the job done.

James isn’t using Irving’s interest in playing with him as leverage to try to force the Lakers front office to pursue a sign-and-trade for the free agent guard, according to Buha.

Irving’s recruitment of James suggests that he prefers to sign the Mavericks’ max offer (or something close to it), rather than taking less money from the Lakers, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News notes.

The Lakers could open up as much as $30-35MM in cap space to sign Irving but he apparently doesn’t want to take a discount. A sign-and-trade scenario would be much more appealing to Irving because he could get a higher salary.

Los Angeles, from all indications, are more focused on retaining some of their top free agents (Rui Hachimura, Austin Reaves). Lakers sources reiterated to Buha on Monday they’re not looking to add Irving.

Outside of a trade, the only way James could join the Mavs would be via a buyout of his contract and that seems like an extreme longshot. James has one year remaining on his contract at $46.9MM and then a player option for the 2024/25 season worth $50.65MM.

Kyrie Irving Wants Mavericks To Pursue Trade For LeBron James

The Lakers may not have interest in a sign-and-trade deal for Kyrie Irving, but sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic that Irving has reached out to LeBron James to see if they can reunite in Dallas (Twitter link).

That report meshes with a story by Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report, who hears from league sources that Irving wants the Mavericks to pursue an offseason trade for James to form a new Big Three alongside Luka Doncic.

Sources tell Haynes that Dallas was preparing to make an offer for James before this year’s trade deadline. However, that would not have been possible, as James was ineligible to be traded after signing an extension last summer.

James has dropped hints about wanting to play alongside Irving again, and the Lakers were reportedly strong candidates to acquire him when he considered opting out of his contract last summer and again when he asked the Nets for a trade in February.

L.A.’s asking price for James would surely be exorbitant if the team would consider a trade at all. He has one year remaining on his contract at $46.9MM and then a player option for the 2024/25 season worth $50.65MM.

Haynes points out that penalties imposed by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will make it extremely difficult for any team to carry three max-salary players. He states that Irving and James would both have to take significant pay cuts to make the arrangement work and suggests that the most viable path for James to get to Dallas would be to demand a buyout with the Lakers, which Haynes admits is extremely unlikely.

James has a good relationship with Doncic, so that wouldn’t be an impediment to a potential deal, Haynes adds. He’s also close with head coach Jason Kidd, who formerly served as a Lakers assistant, as well as assistant coach Jared Dudley, an ex-teammate.

Re-signing Irving remains Dallas’ top priority for the offseason, sources tell Haynes. Even though they missed the playoffs, the Mavs see a bright future for their All-Star backcourt and are determined to keep Irving after giving up two rotation players and three future draft picks to acquire the 31-year-old guard from Brooklyn.

And-Ones: Expansion, Free Agency, Adelman

NBA commissioner Adam Silver made his latest statement on the possibility of expansion during an interview Sunday on NBA TV (video link).

Silver has repeatedly said that the idea of adding teams won’t be considered until after the 2024/25 season. The league wanted to get its new Collective Bargaining Agreement in place, which has been done, and negotiate its new media rights deal before thinking about expanding.

“I think it makes sense over time, if you’re a successful organization, to continue to grow,” Silver said. “There’s no doubt there are a lot of great cities we’re interested in having in the NBA.”

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Lakers guard Austin Reaves is among the upcoming free agents who boosted their value during the NBA playoffs, writes Frank Urbina of HoopsHype. Reaves was already headed for a big payday, but his importance to the team was on display during L.A.’s run to the Western Conference Finals. Reaves will be restricted, so the Lakers can match an offer from another team, and Urbina believes he might get more than the $52MM over four years that L.A. can offer before he explores the market. Lakers forward Rui Hachimura, Heat guard Gabe Vincent, Clippers guard Russell Westbrook, Nuggets swingman Bruce Brown, Nets forward Cameron Johnson and Suns center Jock Landale also make Urbina’s list.
  • James Harden and Kyrie Irving are the top names on HoopsHype’s updated list of this year’s best free agents. The former Nets teammates will be the most-watched players on the market this summer, with Harden rumored to be interested in returning to Houston and Irving possibly not a lock to re-sign with Dallas. Kristaps Porzingis, Fred VanVleet and Khris Middleton round out the top five. The same five players are at the top of a free agent list compiled by Alex Kennedy of
  • The National Basketball Coaches Association announced Sunday that Rick Adelman is this year’s winner of the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement Award, per Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Adelman ranks 10th in career coaching wins with 1,042 and reached two NBA Finals with the Trail Blazers.“Chuck was a great coach and respected by all those who coached against his teams,” Adelman said. “To receive an award like this I have to thank all those who helped me along the way, in particular my assistant coaches and front offices. I would also like to thank the players I had through the years. Their effort and cooperation made everything I did possible. Good players make coaching much easier.”

Lakers Notes: D-Lo, Kyrie, Walker, Reaves, Harrison, Beasley, Bamba, Draft

In a conversation on the HoopsHype podcast about the Lakers‘ free agency situation, Jovan Buha of The Athletic tells Michael Scotto of HoopsHype that he still believes a new deal with Los Angeles is the most likely outcome for D’Angelo Russell, though if it’s far from a lock.

A previous report stated that Russell was hoping for a four-year, $100MM contract before being traded from Minnesota to L.A. Given that he had an up-and-down postseason and there aren’t a ton of obvious suitors for his services this offseason, Russell may be hard-pressed to get four years or $25MM annually, Buha observes, suggesting that a two- or three-year deal, perhaps around $20MM per year, might be more realistic.

While the Lakers may also explore the sign-and-trade market for Russell, neither Buha nor Scotto views Kyrie Irving as a serious option for the club, even though Scotto has heard there’s no truth to the idea that Irving and the Mavericks have a “handshake” deal in place. Buha suggests it’s hard to imagine the Lakers making a compelling offer for Irving that Dallas would accept.

Elsewhere on the free agency front, Buha and Scotto agree that Lonnie Walker could get offers in the $4-7MM range and might seek a larger role with a new team.

As for Austin Reaves, Buha continues to hear that the Lakers will match any offer sheet for the guard, but he names the Spurs as a possible “dark horse” suitor for Reaves, while Scotto identifies the Rockets and Magic as two other cap-room teams who could have interest in testing the Lakers’ limits.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • In a mailbag for The Athletic, Buha says that Shaquille Harrison is expected to be waived this offseason and adds there are doubts about whether Malik Beasley ($16.5MM team option) and Mohamed Bamba ($10.3MM) will be retained. Beasley and Bamba would be on expiring deals and might be useful salary-matching pieces in trades, but they’re not bargains on their current contracts and could be cut loose to help accommodate new deals for free agents like Reaves, Russell, and Rui Hachimura.
  • The Lakers are more likely than not to hang onto the No. 17 pick in this year’s draft, sources tell Buha within that same mailbag. That might change if the team is able to use the pick as part of a trade package to land a starting-caliber player, Buha notes.
  • None are likely to receive consideration as early as No. 17, but the Lakers hosted six prospects for a pre-draft workout on Friday, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN (Twitter link): Nadir Hifi (France), Jalen Wilson (Kansas), Morris Udeze (New Mexico), Cameron Shelton (Loyola Marymount), Terquavion Smith (NC State), and Oscar Tshiebwe (Kentucky).

Southwest Notes: Rockets, Zion, McCollum, Irving, Grizzlies

Assuming Victor Wembanyama, Brandon Miller and Scoot Henderson will be the first three picks in the draft, who will the Rockets target at No. 4? Kelly Iko of The Athletic explores that question in his first installment of the team’s big board.

With the assistance of a high-ranking scout, Iko puts Amen Thompson at the top of the list. Thompson would make a great fit for Houston defensively, given its current talent level, though there are questions about the Overtime Elite guard offensively. Villanova forward Cam Whitmore follows him on Iko’s list, thanks to his explosiveness and athleticism in the open floor.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Pelicans guard CJ McCollum dispensed career advice to oft-injured Zion Williamson, RealGM relays. Speaking on the Ryen Russillo Show, McCollum said he and Larry Nance Jr. have engaged in multiple conversations with Williamson, whose toughness was questioned when he didn’t play after Jan. 2 due to a hamstring injury. “Your ceiling is unlike anything the NBA has ever seen,” McCollum said of his advice to Williamson. “But it’s up to you to take full advantage of whatever that is. I can’t want it for you. Mom can’t want it for you. Dad can’t want it for you. Staff can’t want it for you. So, it’s up to you to decide what that looks like. You’ve got to figure out what you want to do with this game, because this game will go where you take it.”
  • Following a report of a  “handshake deal” with the Mavericks, along with attending Lakers games during the postseason, Kyrie Irving indicated on Instagram he’ll control the narrative of his free agency (hat tip to RealGM).  “If you hear something about my career, it’s going to happen direct like this,” Irving said. “I am an independent agency. It’s just me.”
  • In a subscriber-only story, Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian details the lessons that the Grizzlies learned during their abbreviated playoff run. He opines they need to be patient with the team’s core and coach Taylor Jenkins but aggressively pursue ways to improve their postseason chances.

Stein’s Latest: Irving, Russell, Wizards, M. Williams, Raptors

If the Lakers opt to pursue Kyrie Irving in free agency, the Mavericks wouldn’t be interested in taking back free agent guard D’Angelo Russell as the primary player in a sign-and-trade deal, Marc Stein reports in his latest Substack column.

There hasn’t been any concrete information that trying to sign Irving is part of the Lakers’ offseason plans, Stein adds, but there’s plenty of speculation that LeBron James would like to reunite with his former Cavaliers teammate. L.A. was heavily rumored as a possible destination for Irving when he considered opting out of his contract last summer and again when he asked the Nets for a trade in February.

James’ retirement talk after being swept by Denver is widely seen as a message to the Lakers’ front office that a roster upgrade is needed, but Stein isn’t convinced that they’ll be active on the free agent market. He states that the team’s preferred plan is to reach new deals with two of its own free agents, Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura. It’s less certain that L.A. wants to keep Russell after his disastrous performance in the Western Conference Finals, Stein adds.

The Mavericks appear committed to keeping Irving after paying a high price to acquire him from Brooklyn, according to Stein. A report last weekend indicated that a “handshake deal” may already be in place for Irving to remain in Dallas.

Stein passes along more inside information:

  • Teams around the league are expecting new Wizards president Michael Winger to be aggressive in trying to reshape the roster this summer, but Bradley Beal‘s no-trade clause may complicate his plans. Stein points out that Beal has four seasons left on his five-year, $251MM contract and can’t be sent to any other team unless he agrees to the deal. Stein also wonders how the front office change will affect Kristaps Porzingis, who reportedly began extension talks in March.
  • Kevin Ollie and Charles Lee were set for second interviews this week for the Pistons‘ head coaching vacancy, but Stein hears that the team hasn’t given up on its pursuit of Monty Williams. The former Suns head coach reportedly turned down a “big-money” offer from Detroit, but some members of the organization are hoping he might reconsider.
  • A source tells Stein that Kings associate head coach Jordi Fernandez is a legitimate candidate to become the Raptors‘ new head coach.

Lakers Notes: LeBron, Offseason, Kyrie, Prospects

All-NBA Lakers small forward LeBron James surprised the basketball world at large on Monday when he suggested he would be contemplating retirement this offseason.

Shams Charania said on FanDuel TV (Twitter video link) that he believes the 19-time All-Star will stick around at least a while longer.

“My sense is LeBron could have two years left remaining in his his career,” Charania said. “… There’s certainly an expectation that he’s gonna continue playing, he’s got two years left on his Lakers deal. … It would be a true surprise if he really did actually retire.”

There’s more out of Los Angeles:

  • The Lakers only have three guaranteed contracts on their books for 2023/24. Multiple league executives spoke with Sean Deveney of about what Los Angeles might decide to do this offseason in terms of roster construction. The team has a player option on swingman Malik Beasley, which one executive expects the club to pick up. “He can be a contributor, really on any team,” they said. “The expectation is they’ll keep him. He can be a good trade piece if you need one. It’s just, if the tax is a big worry, he’d be the easy piece to move off of.” Following some big playoff games essentially in Beasley’s stead, unrestricted free agent Lonnie Walker IV may get more money elsewhere, another executive speculates. “I can’t see how they can pay him, he is probably a goner,” the exec said.
  • James’ former Cavaliers teammate Kyrie Irving, now an unrestricted free agent, has long been seen as a potential fit for Los Angeles. Jason Lloyd and Jon Greenberg of The Athletic weigh the pros and cons of adding an erratic, controversial talent of Irving’s caliber and price tag.
  • The Lakers, possessors of the Nos. 17 and 47 picks in this year’s draft, will work out six young prospects on Friday, headlined by G League Ignite small forward Leonard Miller, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN (Twitter link). Virginia guard Kihei Clark, Kentucky forward Chris Livingston, Pepperdine forward Maxwell Lewis, Dayton forward DaRon Holmes II, and Baylor guard Adam Flagler round out the invitees.

“Handshake Deal” For Kyrie Irving In Dallas?

Representatives of rival teams at last week’s NBA Draft Combine expect Kyrie Irving to re-sign with the Mavericks this summer, writes Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. Dallas missed the playoffs after acquiring Irving from Brooklyn in a February trade and he often appeared to be an awkward fit alongside Luka Doncic, but sources tell Pincus that the Mavs didn’t trade for Irving as a short-term experiment.

“I hear they had a handshake deal before the trade,” one of Pincus’ sources said. “And Kyrie wouldn’t have said yes to anything less than the max.”

Irving will be eligible for a new five-year contract in Dallas that could be worth $272MM, Pincus adds. Although he was an All-Star this season for the 10th time in his career, off-court incidents in Brooklyn — and Boston and Cleveland before that — may limit the number of teams interested in signing him.

“I’m not sure what the market is for Kyrie, but no one with cap room is giving it to Kyrie,” another source told Pincus. “He comes with too much drama.”

Pincus talked to an agent who expects Irving to receive a four-year deal with a player option on the final season. It would be worth about $201MM in guaranteed money and would line up with Doncic, who can opt out of his current contract in 2026.

In an appearance Monday on ESPN’s “Get Up,” Brian Windhorst suggested that the Lakers shouldn’t be dismissed as a possible Irving suitor (video link). L.A. was reportedly interested in Irving when he considered opting out of his contract last summer and again when he submitted a trade request to the Nets in February.

Windhorst admits the Lakers would have to give up most of the assets they just acquired in order to sign Irving outright, but he says the landscape could be more favorable if Dallas would agree to a sign-and-trade. Regardless, Windhorst added that it helps Irving’s negotiating position if he can convince the Mavericks that L.A. is interested.

Pincus also talked with several sources who expect Dallas to be a potential landing spot for Suns center Deandre Ayton, who shares an agent with Doncic.

“The Suns need depth,” a source told Pincus. “I can see them getting Tim Hardaway Jr., JaVale (McGee) back, Josh Green and No. 10 (draft pick). Phoenix would probably flip the pick to another team for depth, or maybe it’d be a big multi-team deal.”

Pincus lists Maxi Kleber, Davis Bertans, Reggie Bullock and Jaden Hardy as other players who might be moved in a hypothetical Ayton trade, but he notes that Kleber is among Doncic’s best friends on the team, which gives Dallas incentive to keep him.

Southwest Notes: Kidd, Kyrie, Mavs, Bates, Pelicans, Grizzlies

Head coach Jason Kidd hopes Kyrie Irving — an impending free agent — spends the rest of his career with the Mavericks, he told Rachel Nichols of Showtime (Twitter video link).

I think he truly is happy here, but that doesn’t guarantee us that he’s going to stay,” Kidd said (hat tip to contributor Adam Zagoria). ” … We’re going to do everything to keep him. At the end of the day it’s his decision, we’ll see what that is. But at the end, we hope that we’ve done everything to make him comfortable, and want to be a Mav for life.

A five-year, maximum-salary offer for Irving is projected to be worth $272MM. It seems unlikely that the Mavs would actually go that high, but you never know — they gave up real assets to acquire him, and losing him for nothing would be a disaster.

Here’s more from the Southwest:

  • Emoni Bates, who worked out for Charlotte on Friday, also worked out for the Mavericks earlier this week, Zagoria tweets. A former five-star recruit, Bates is currently ranked No. 56 on ESPN’s big board after a relatively disappointing first two college seasons at Memphis and Eastern Michigan.
  • Hiring an assistant coach with head coaching experience is a priority for the Pelicans, according to Christian Clark of, who notes (via Twitter) that head coach Willie Green has a good relationship with advisor Mike D’Antoni.
  • The Grizzlies will need to rely on the leadership of Ja Morant, Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. going forward with Dillon Brooks likely to depart in free agency, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “Des is a cornerstone, very significant piece of this group,” GM Zach Kleiman said. “I think he has an opportunity going forward to really establish himself as a key driver, key leader in this group. … I think he’ll have an even bigger opportunity to be a heart-and-soul-of-the-group kind of guy going forward.”