Kyrie Irving

Mavs Rumors: Harrison, Wood, Irving, First-Round Pick

Despite the Mavericks‘ disappointing season, it sounds like both head coach Jason Kidd and general manager Nico Harrison will remain with the team for 2023/24.

Team owner Mark Cuban said earlier this week that the Mavs intend to bring back Kidd for a third season. As for Harrison, league sources tell Marc Stein (Substack link) that Cuban is pleased with the work that the longtime Nike executive has done since transitioning to a front office role. While the Mavs have faced criticism for a handful of roster moves – including losing Jalen Brunson and Kyrie Irving – Stein suggests that Harrison doesn’t need to worry about his job security at this point.

Here’s more on the Mavs from Stein:

  • Stein’s “up-to-the-minute sense” is that the Mavericks won’t attempt to re-sign big man Christian Wood in free agency this offseason. Noting that Dallas intends to make some roster changes over the summer, Stein identifies JaVale McGee and Tim Hardaway Jr. as two veterans who could find themselves back on the trade block.
  • There’s “considerable skepticism” around the NBA that the Mavs will take a hard-line stance and insist on a short-term deal in their negotiations with Kyrie Irving, according to Stein, who says early rumblings suggest the team may offer a three- or four-year contract to the star guard.
  • If the Mavericks retain their 2023 first-rounder (which they owe to New York with top-10 protection), they’re expected to explore their trade options with that pick, sources tell Stein. A loss to San Antonio today would ensure Dallas has nearly an 80% chance to hang onto that pick — those odds could climb even higher if Utah wins and Dallas loses today.

Southwest Notes: Zion, Irving, Mavericks, Porter

After getting more discouraging news about Zion Williamson this week, the Pelicans are preparing to face the start of the postseason without him, writes William Guillory of The Athletic. Executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin announced that Williamson remains out indefinitely due to a hamstring injury, making him unavailable for the play-in tournament or possibly even a first-round playoff series if New Orleans is able to qualify.

Griffin told reporters on Friday that Williamson has participated in 3-on-3 drills with coaches, but he hasn’t been cleared for 5-on-5 scrimmages. Griffin also revealed that Williamson hasn’t met some “objective metrics” in the weight room or on the court, and he’s still hesitant sometimes when pushing off with the injured leg.

“We want Z back, for sure. But we can’t put a lot of time and focus into ‘What ifs.’ Right now, this is reality. That’s what we have to look at,” coach Willie Green said. “Over the last 10 games, we’ve been playing extremely well. We have to continue to do that. When that time comes when Z can step on the floor and go, then it’s, ‘Let’s go.’”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • When the Mavericks traded for Kyrie Irving in February, he requested that reporters refrain from asking him about free agency until the season was over, notes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Those questions are sure to come on Sunday when Dallas ends a disappointing campaign that fell short of the play-in tournament. Townsend adds that although the Mavs have a 9-17 record since trading for Irving, he hasn’t created any distractions in Dallas after a string of off-the-court incidents with Brooklyn. The biggest question facing the team in the offseason is how much of a commitment to make to Irving, who is eligible for a five-year, $272MM contract with the Mavericks or a four-year, $201.7MM deal with another team.
  • After finding themselves under NBA investigation for resting players Friday night with a play-in spot still within reach, the Mavericks will use a depleted roster again on Sunday, Townsend tweets. Irving, Luka Doncic, Reggie Bullock, Tim Hardaway Jr.Josh Green and Maxi Kleber will all sit out the game against the Spurs.
  • Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. will miss Sunday’s game with soreness in his right knee, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. That will leave him at 59 games, one short of the 60 needed to make his games-played bonus for next season considered to be likely. Feigen adds that it won’t affect Porter’s salary (he could still earn the bonus by playing in 60 games next season), but it will open some cap room for Houston to use this offseason. The bonus accounted for $2.38MM of Porter’s cap hit for the 2023/24 season, explains Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link).

Mavs Notes: Elimination, Draft Pick, Luka, THJ, Kyrie

Entering the day on Friday, the Mavericks could still have secured a play-in spot if they’d won their last two games of the season and the Thunder lost to Memphis on Sunday. However, Dallas essentially decided to throw in the towel on its chase for a postseason berth, sitting a number of regulars (including Kyrie Irving) and limiting Luka Doncic to essentially a quarter of action.

Unsurprisingly, the Mavericks did indeed lose their game to Chicago, officially eliminating them from the play-in hunt. As Tim MacMahon of ESPN writes, head coach Jason Kidd told reporters before the game that the decision was made by team owner Mark Cuban and general manager Nico Harrison.

“We were fighting for our lives, and understanding this is a situation we’re in, but the organization has made the decision to change,” Kidd said. “So, you know, we have to go by that and that’s something that happens. So the guys that are playing, we got to go out there and put our best foot forward, and we talked about that this afternoon.”

Speaking after the game, Kidd said that the move was less about “waving the white flag” and more about prioritizing the future.

“It’s decisions sometimes are hard in this business,” he said, per MacMahon. “We’re trying to build a championship team. With this decision, this is maybe a step back. But hopefully it leads to going forward.”

Asked if he agreed with the decision to prioritize the future instead of the present by sitting players on Friday, Kidd replied, “Those are my bosses, so yes.”

Kidd confirmed after Friday’s loss that Doncic and Irving definitely won’t be playing in Sunday’s regular season finale, with other regulars likely to join them on the sidelines (Twitter link via Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News).

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • As Tim Cato of The Athletic observes, one more loss on Sunday would ensure that the Mavericks finish with sole control of the NBA’s 10th-worst record. That would give them approximately an 80% chance of hanging onto the top-10 protected first-round pick they owe the Knicks — there would be about a 20% chance of a team near the bottom of the lottery standings leapfrogging them and pushing them out of the top 10, in which case they’d have to send the pick to New York.
  • Within a separate story about what’s next in Dallas, MacMahon says there’s a “strong sense of urgency” to expedite the process of building a contender around Doncic. Team sources have admitted there’s concern that Luka could request a trade as soon as the summer of 2024 if Dallas doesn’t take a significant step forward by then, MacMahon reports.
  • Appearing on The Carton Show on FS1 (Twitter video link), Tim Hardaway Sr. said that Doncic and Irving aren’t leaders, and referred to Doncic as a “crybaby” due to his frequent in-game complaints to referees. As Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News writes, Mavericks wing Tim Hardaway Jr. asked to speak to reporters in order to distance himself from those comments. “I disagree with it 1000%,” the younger Hardaway said, stressing that his views both Doncic and Irving as good leaders. “… It’s disappointing that I have to come out here and say (this). I love him to death, like I said, my dad. He made a mistake. It’s his opinion, not mine. We’re two different human beings, so that’s really all I can say.”
  • In the most recent episode of the Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Tim Bontemps, and MacMahon discussed Irving’s upcoming free agency, debating whether or not Kyrie holds most of the leverage as he enters free agency (hat tip to RealGM). MacMahon and Bontemps believe Irving is in a good position to command a long-term maximum-salary deal from the Mavs, while Windhorst questioned whether there are any teams that will have the cap flexibility and the desire to make a play for Kyrie and put pressure on Dallas.

Injury Notes: Heat, Sixers, Robinson, Mavericks

With the seventh seed in the East now sewn up, the Heat will rest their three priciest players and their first-round rookie draft pick tonight against the Wizards, the team has announced (Twitter link).

All-Star center Bam Adebayo will be unavailable due to a left quadriceps tendon strain, small forward Jimmy Butler will miss the bout with a right hand contusion, and veteran point guard Kyle Lowry will rest with a knee ailment. Rookie power forward Nikola Jovic will also be out due to a back injury.

Three other players are considered questionable with various maladies. The statuses of guards Tyler Herro and Max Struss are uncertain due to a right quad contusion and a hyperextended right finger, respectively. Veteran big man Kevin Love‘s availability is murky due to a right rib contusion.

Here are more injury notes:

  • The Sixers will sit All-Star center Joel Embiid, a 2023 MVP hopeful, point guard James Harden, forward P.J. Tucker and shooting guard Tyrese Maxey against the Hawks, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Forward Tobias Harris and reserve guard Jaden Springer are questionable to suit up.
  • The Knicks have announced that they will rest starting center Mitchell Robinson tonight against the Pelicans (via Twitter). At 47-33, New York is now locked into the Eastern Conference’s fifth seed, as the team is three games ahead of the Nets in the East standings with just two games left in its regular season schedule.
  • The Suns will sit their top four players tonight against the Lakers. Sources inform Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter) that Phoenix, playing in the second night of a back-to-back set of bouts, will be without All-Star forward Kevin Durant, All-Star shooting guard Devin Booker, future Hall of Fame point guard Chris Paul, and maximum-salaried center Deandre Ayton against Los Angeles tonight. Charania notes that the Suns have locked up the West’s fourth seed.
  • The Mavericks tweet that All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, guard Josh Green, wing Tim Hardaway Jr., and frontcourt players Maxi Kleber and Christian Wood will all sit out tonight’s game against the Bulls. Dallas is just 0.5 games behind the Thunder for the West’s No. 10 seed, but sitting all these key rotation players appears to signal a subtle surrender of the club’s season. The Mavericks are currently tied for the 10th-worst record in the NBA, and given that they owe a top 10-protected first-round pick to the Knicks this year, it makes sense that they would hope to preserve their future draft selection.

Mavs’ Cuban Talks Irving, Wood, Brunson, Kidd, Doncic, More

Speaking to the media ahead of Wednesday’s game against Sacramento, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban touched on a number of topics.

Cuban said the team acquired guard Kyrie Irving at the February trade deadline with the goal of keeping him around “long term,” as veteran reporter Marc Stein relays (Twitter links). Cuban added he thought the Mavs had “a good shot” at retaining Irving, who will be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.

When asked if he thought Irving was worth a maximum-salary contract, Cuban replied, “I’m not going to negotiate with you,” tweets ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. The longtime owner said re-signing Irving is the team’s top offseason priority, but was noncommittal on big man Christian Wood, another potential free agent.

I’m not going to go through individual players,” Cuban said, per MacMahon (Twitter link).

Both of the Mavericks’ star guards — Luka Doncic and Irving — will be available for Wednesday’s game, the team announced (via Twitter).

Here’s more from Cuban’s media session:

  • Cuban claims the Mavs “never had the opportunity” to give former guard Jalen Brunson a four-year, $56MM extension in January 2022, tweets Stein. Dallas’ owner went on to explain that Brunson’s camp was looking for a deal in the range of $18-23MM annually in early February 2022, but the Mavs could only offer him $14MM per year due to the limitations on veteran extensions, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter links). As ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter), the Mavs technically could have given him a deal in the $18-23MM range after the 2022 trade deadline, when Brunson was eligible to renegotiate his contract, but they would have had to clear $25MM+ in salaries in order to do so.
  • As for last summer, when Brunson signed a four-year, $104MM contract with the Knicks, Cuban claims Brunson’s side never gave the Mavs a number he would accept, per Townsend (Twitter links). The Mavs had Brunson’s Bird rights, so they theoretically could have offered him more years and more money than a rival team. Cuban added that he had a strong relationship with Brunson and his agents, but “things went south” when Brunson’s father, Rick, took over the contract negotiations (Twitter link via MacMahon).
  • It seems odd that Rick Brunson was ever in charge of negotiations, considering he was finalizing a deal to be an assistant coach with the Knicks on June 2, and free agents couldn’t sign until June 30. The elder Brunson previously worked under Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota, but resigned from the Wolves after allegations of improper conduct toward women, which he and his lawyer denied.
  • Cuban’s tone regarding the Brunson situation was markedly different last summer, notes Fred Katz of The Athletic (via Twitter). Last July, a week after Jalen Brunson signed with the Knicks, Cuban said he had “no hard feelings” about Brunson leaving and that the guard had “earned the right to make a decision as a free agent” (link via Zach Braziller of The New York Post).
  • According to Townsend (Twitter links), Cuban took responsibility for the Mavs’ poor season and for not recognizing they needed more help defensively, as the team has dropped from seventh to 23rd in defensive rating. “It’s absolutely my fault for not recognizing that,” he said. Cuban also said that the team plans to bring back head coach Jason Kidd next season.
  • Cuban, who has owned the team since 2000, said he believes Doncic wants to spend his entire NBA career with the Mavs, “but we have to earn that” (Twitter link via MacMahon). Doncic has expressed frustration and disappointment with how the season has gone and recently said he missed Jalen Brunson “a lot.”

Injury Notes: Zion, Luka, Sexton, Markkanen, Avdija, Barrett

As the Pelicans move closer toward securing a place in the postseason, forward Zion Williamson is still pushing to return to action before his team’s season ends. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Williamson – who has been sidelined since January 2 due to a right hamstring strain – has progressed to participating in some “low-intensity” 3-on-3 with coaches, but hasn’t yet been cleared for 5-on-5 scrimmages or full contact.

Sources tell Charania that New Orleans, unsurprisingly, will take a cautious approach with Williamson’s ramp-up process and won’t rush him just because the playoffs are around the corner. Based on Charania’s reporting, it sounds like the Pelicans would have a chance to get Williamson back on the court if they play a full first-round series, but shouldn’t necessarily count on having him available for any play-in games.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Despite a report stating that the slumping Mavericks are seriously considering shutting down Luka Doncic for the season, the star guard told reporters that he intends to suit up on Wednesday vs. Sacramento, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. When there’s still a chance (to make the playoffs), I’m going to play,” Doncic said. The Mavs have officially listed both Doncic ((left thigh injury recovery) and Kyrie Irving (right foot injury recovery) as probable for Wednesday (Twitter link).
  • With the Jazz‘s play-in hopes still on life support, guard Collin Sexton (left hamstring strain) will be available on Tuesday for the first time since February 15, according to the team (Twitter link). However, star forward Lauri Markkanen has been ruled out for the game vs. the Lakers due to his left hand contusion.
  • The Wizards‘ injury list continues to grow, with the team announcing today in a press release that forward Deni Avdija will miss at least the next two games due to left elbow bursitis. The team isn’t yet ruling out Avdija for its final two games of the season.
  • Knicks forward RJ Barrett has been cleared to return in Indiana on Wednesday after missing Sunday’s game due to a non-COVID illness, tweets Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.

Mavs “Seriously Considering” Shutting Down Doncic, Irving

The Mavericks are “seriously considering” shutting down Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving for the rest of the season, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter video link via FanDuel TV).

As Charania notes, the Mavs owe a top-10 protected pick to the Knicks as part of the Kristaps Porzingis trade. As things currently stand, Dallas would have a 76.3% chance of keeping the pick, a 13.9% chance of moving into the top four, and a 3% chance of winning the lottery and the No. 1 overall pick, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

Both players have dealt with injuries in recent weeks. Doncic missed five games last month due to a thigh strain, while Irving missed four and continues to deal with plantar fasciitis in his foot, Charania adds.

Dallas has been in a tailspin, losing seven of its past eight games to currently hold a 37-42 record with only three games remaining. The Mavs trail the Thunder by one game for the No. 10 seed and the final spot in the Western Conference play-in tournament, but the 38-41 Thunder hold the tiebreaker, making it essentially a two-game lead.

The pick the Mavs owe is top-10 protected through 2025, so if they keep it this year it will just push back the obligation until ’24. They would be able to trade the ’23 pick after they make the selection if they want to make a win-now move, but the only other pick they’d be able to trade is their own ’27 first-rounder due to the Stepien rule.

Despite a very disappointing stretch after the All-Star break after trading for Irving, Charania believes the team’s top offseason priority will be re-signing the veteran point guard, who was named to his eighth All-Star team this season (Twitter video link via FanDuel TV). Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report has heard the same thing, with sources telling Haynes that Irving plans to wait until free agency to maximize his potential earnings (his extension eligibility is limited after being traded).

Southwest Notes: Irving, Doncic, Kennard, Rockets

All-Star Mavericks point guard Kyrie Irving acknowledged that things have not gone smoothly since he arrived in Dallas last month and teamed up with fellow All-Star guard Luka Doncic, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

“I think that now, again, just where we are in the season, and where other teams are positioned already, it kind of looks like a bit of a clusterf—, to be honest with you,” Irving said. “Because we’re 37-40, and we’re trying to fight to get into the play-in game. It’s not the expectations I don’t think any of us had in that locker room.”

The team has gone 6-14 across its last 20 games and is currently on the outside of the Western Conference looking in, as the No. 11 seed.

“I just have to be at peace with where I am and which I am, and trust of the guys that I’m going to be in that war room with every single day,” Irving said. “So, I’m appreciative of them giving me the opportunity. It’s been nothing but great here. And I’ve been at peace.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • The Mavericks‘ most recent loss, a 116-108 defeat Wednesday against the Sixers, could help accelerate the end of the burgeoning on-court partnership of Doncic and Irving, writes Tim Cato of The Athletic. The team has just five games left and is currently one game behind the West’s tenth-seeded Thunder. As Cato notes, Irving could leave in free agency, which would be an indictment of the Mavericks’ team-building, coaching, and extant personnel.
  • Grizzlies reserve guard Luke Kennard may not have been the buzziest trade deadline roster addition, but he could be a crucial X-factor for Memphis in the playoffs, opines Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.
  • Like every other tanking team this season, the rebuilding 18-59 Rockets are hoping to nab the No. 1 pick in this year’s NBA draft, almost certain to be high-upside prospect Victor Wembanyama. Kelly Iko of The Athletic takes a look at a variety of lottery selection scenarios for the Rockets, who are in position to claim – at worst – a top-six or -seven pick.

Mavs GM Harrison On Irving Trade, Kidd, More

Mavericks president of basketball operations and general manager Nico Harrison sat down for an interview with Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News prior to Wednesday’s loss in Philadelphia.

We have provided a few highlights below, but it’s worth checking out in full for any Mavs fans.

On why the team has struggled after trading for Kyrie Irving last month:

“When we made the trade, we expected those two guys — Kyrie and Luka (Doncic) — to jell by now, so that’s definitely below expectations. I’m not even saying they haven’t jelled, but the team — they haven’t had enough minutes together to jell. Kyrie was out, Luka was out, one played, the other played, so we’re behind where we wanted to be.

“But those two work. Like, two guys at that level work. Then it’s how these guys around them — how do they fit in and play off them? That’s the tougher thing. You’ve got all this analytical data to say these lineups work, but guess what? Since the trade, we haven’t had consistent players out there, so it’s tough to say, like, absolute which lineups work because it’s very little minutes that they’ve all played together because it’s been change after change after change.”

On whether there’s enough time to evaluate the team as it sits outside of the play-in tournament with only five games remaining:

“Everybody knows we’re fighting to get into this playoffs. I just think every game we’ve got to continue to make strides. Even if players aren’t healthy, we don’t have any choice. We have to go. That’s why I say we have high-character guys. Nobody’s feeling sorry for themselves. They’re positive guys, and they’re hard-working guys. They’re high-character guys, so we’ll figure it out. Hopefully we figure it out sooner or later. The clock’s on us.”

On how players have responded to head coach Jason Kidd since the trade:

“I think Jason’s done a great job, starting with the top, making sure Luka and Kyrie are communicating and on the same page, which he’s done well. I think it’s tough for a coach every day. A lot of times you guys think we’re being cute when you’re like ‘Hey, are they playing today?’ And we’re like ‘Yeah, we don’t know yet.’ You’re like ‘Yeah, they know,’ but we’re looking at each other like, ‘Hey, what do you think?’

“If you’re Jason, how do you game plan when you don’t know who’s available? I think he’s been put in a tough position. I think what Jason’s done really well is he’s really dug into being positive with all the uncertainty. It’s easy to start pointing fingers. He’s really dug into being positive, and I think that’s super helpful. I think the guys can feel the positive energy and again, I think he’s been in a tough position.

“Honestly, we weren’t playing good before the trade, so the trade was never going to be a magic pill all of a sudden, but we did expect those guys to play more games together to figure each other out. Again, I’m not really worried about those two figuring each other out. It’s the players around them.”

Southwest Notes: McCollum, Kyrie, Sochan, Porter

In his latest diary entry for Andscape, Pelicans guard CJ McCollum discussed a handful of topics, including injured teammates Zion Williamson and Jose Alvarado and his expectations for the home stretch of the season. Perhaps most notably, he confirmed that his own right thumb injury will require surgery during the offseason.

“I knew the final outcome would probably be surgery, and I was notified that that’s what it’s going to have to be,” McCollum wrote. “It’s my shooting hand, so you’re always a little nervous. So, I’ve just been checking in with a hand specialist out of New York and just making sure things are progressing and continue to get images every couple weeks to track the progress as to what type of surgery I may need, what’s the process going to look like and I’m comfortable with what I’ve been hearing so far, so I’ll be all right.”

McCollum acknowledged that it hasn’t been ideal playing through the thumb injury, which has “affected how I dribble, shoot, pass, (and) absorb passes.” However, he said that shutting it down for the season has never been an option he seriously considered, since he believes he can still be effective.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Dallas is just 7-12 since Kyrie Irving made his Mavericks debut and has slipped out of the top 10 in the West, but Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link) has heard only positive things about the guard’s professionalism and locker room presence since last month’s trade. Blaming Irving for Luka Doncic‘s recent frustration wouldn’t be “fair or accurate,” MacMahon adds.
  • A nagging right knee injury will sideline Spurs forward Jeremy Sochan on Sunday for the seventh time in his last 11 games. However, the rookie has downplayed the issue as “nothing serious” and head coach Gregg Popovich said the team “probably” won’t shut down Sochan for the season, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (subscription required). It sounds like there’s no concern that the knee problem will turn into a major injury, and the Spurs want to give Sochan all the reps they can before his first NBA season ends.
  • Despite the way in which his time in Cleveland ended, Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. still values the time he spent with the Cavaliers and said he’s looking forward to playing in Cleveland on Sunday, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required). “I would say that’s the first time I learned about the business of the NBA,” Porter said of the trade that sent him to Houston following a locker-room incident with the Cavs. “But we’re all still close, still. Those relationships are still there and very valuable to me, and (to) the other side, too. Definitely, a lot of people would say it was bad, a bad (ending). It was (for) the best for both of us.”