Markieff Morris

Southwest Notes: Ryan, Morant, Grizzlies, Gafford, Mavs

When the Pelicans converted Matt Ryan from his two-way deal to a standard contract on the day before their regular season finale, they used their mid-level exception to sign him to a three-year deal that paid him $1.5MM in guaranteed money for the final two days of this season, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

In exchange for that substantial end-of-season payday, Ryan gave the Pelicans two additional years of low-cost control — he’s under contract for a non-guaranteed minimum salary ($2,196,970) in 2024/25, with a non-guaranteed minimum-salary team option ($2,381,501) for ’25/26.

Ryan’s salary for ’24/25 would become guaranteed if he remains under contract through the start of the regular season, but there are no trigger dates before that point, so New Orleans won’t necessarily need to make a decision on him until the fall.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Grizzlies guard Ja Morant is now being represented by Lift Management, according to a tweet from the agency. Morant reportedly parted ways with longtime agent Jim Tanner earlier this spring. The two-time All-Star has seen his stock drop following multiple suspensions for his off-court behavior, along with a shoulder injury that cost him nearly all of the 2023/24 season, but his maximum-salary contract runs for four more seasons.
  • Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal takes a look at what the Grizzlies want to see from their young players this summer, including projected Summer League participants like GG Jackson and Scotty Pippen Jr. As Cole observes, it’ll also a big offseason for Jake LaRavia, who will be entering his third NBA season, but it’s rare for former first-round picks to return for a third year of Summer League.
  • With center Daniel Gafford listed as questionable for Game 3 vs. the Clippers on Friday due to back spasms, the Mavericks could be forced to make a change to their starting lineup, writes Mike Curtis of The Dallas Morning News (subscription required). Dereck Lively would likely be the top candidate to move into the starting five, though Maxi Kleber – who has averaged 27.0 minutes per game so far in the series – would also play a major role. Dwight Powell and Markieff Morris are also in the mix as depth options.

Southwest Notes: Wembanyama, Morris, Green

Spurs rookie star Victor Wembanyama won’t play on Monday against Phoenix due to a left ankle sprain, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News tweets.

Wembanyama, who was ruled out after participating in the Spurs’ morning shootaround to test his ankle, suffered the injury during Saturday’s 131-106 loss to Phoenix. It’ll be the ninth game he has missed in his first season.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said it’s a “little better than 50-50” that the No. 1 pick plays at Utah on Wednesday.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Markieff Morris has only appeared in 20 games for the Mavericks this season, but the 34-year-old forward plays a key leadership role, Eddie Sefko of notes. Morris says his practice habits are part of the reason why his words and actions carry so much weight. “You can’t just talk it, you got to still be able to walk it,” Morris said. “And that’s what makes these guys believe in what I say. Obviously, I don’t play (in games much). But if you catch me in practice and see me play, you’d say, he really still can bring it. It’s just not my role for this team (to be in the rotation). I think that’s why people believe what I say. I show it in practice all the time.”
  • Jalen Green has been red hot lately, averaging 27.8 points and 3.5 assists this month. Shams Charania noted on FanDuel’s Run It Back program (video link) that the Rockets were willing to deal him. “Two months ago, the Rockets called the Nets on Mikal Bridges and I’m told they discussed a concept around Jalen Green and multiple first-round picks,” Charania said. “That deal was not accepted by the Brooklyn Nets.” That confirms reports prior to the February trade deadline that Houston was open to moving Green for a top-level wing.
  • Speaking of Green, The Athletic’s Kelly Iko takes a deep dive into how the third-year guard has improved defensively this season.

Contract Details: Morris, Gibson, Boban, Forrest, Millner

Markieff Morris‘ new contract with the Mavericks is a one-year, minimum-salary deal that is partially guaranteed, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who tweets that Morris received a $200K guarantee.

The agreement doesn’t include any early salary guarantee dates prior to the league-wide salary guarantee date in January, so Morris will have to remain under contract beyond January 7 in order to earn his full $3,196,448 salary. If it becomes guaranteed, it will count for $2,019,706 against the Mavericks’ cap, with the NBA covering the difference between the cap hit and Morris’ full salary.

Here are a few more contract details from around the NBA:

  • The one-year, minimum-salary deal that Taj Gibson signed with the Wizards is fully guaranteed, Hoops Rumors has learned. That gives Washington a total of 17 players on standard guaranteed contracts, meaning the club will need to trade or waive at least two of those players before opening night.
  • Boban Marjanovic‘s one-year contract with the Rockets will be worth the veteran’s minimum and will be partially guaranteed, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • The two-way contracts recently signed by Trent Forrest (Hawks) and Setric Millner (Spurs) each cover just one year, Hoops Rumors has learned. That means Forrest and Millner will become eligible for restricted free agency in 2024, assuming they play out their respective deals.
  • In case you missed it, we recently passed along the details on Danny Green‘s non-guaranteed contract with the Sixers, including multiple partial guarantee dates.

Mavericks Re-Sign Markieff Morris

The Mavericks have re-signed free agent forward Markieff Morris, the team announced in a press release.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but given his modest role last season, it seems likely that the 34-year-old signed a one-year, minimum-salary contract. We’ll have to wait and see if he got any guaranteed money, but Morris, who is entering his 13th season, would earn just under $3.2MM on a minimum deal, while Dallas would carry a $2,019,706 cap hit.

Morris was sent to Dallas from Brooklyn in early February as part of the Kyrie Irving trade. He was averaging a career-low 10.6 minutes per game in 27 appearances for the Nets and said he was looking for an opportunity for more playing time after the deal, but Morris played even less for the Mavs, averaging just 8.8 minutes over eight appearances. That average is actually inflated — he played 26 minutes in the team’s final game, when Dallas was trying to lose to keep its lottery pick.

While he hasn’t found much individual success in recent seasons, Morris played all 21 playoff games for the Lakers in 2019/20 when they won the championship. The longtime veteran holds career regular season averages of 10.6 points and 5.0 rebounds in 750 games (378 starts, 24.1 minutes), with a shooting slash line of .446/.343/.778.

The Mavericks waived and then used the stretch provision on JaVale McGee to free up a roster spot for Morris. McGee later signed a guaranteed one-year, minimum-salary deal with the Kings after clearing waivers.

With Morris officially signed, the Mavs now have 20 players under contract, one shy of the offseason limit. They have one two-way slot open, as our tracker shows.

Mavs Plan To Waive JaVale McGee, Re-Sign Markieff Morris

The Mavericks intend to waive center JaVale McGee and re-sign free agent forward Markieff Morris, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

McGee signed a three-year, $17MM+ contract with Dallas last offseason, but only spent seven games in the starting lineup and subsequently fell out of the team’s rotation altogether. He averaged 4.4 points and 2.5 rebounds in a career-low 8.5 minutes per game across 42 appearances in his first – and only – season in his latest stint as a Maverick.

The Mavs shopped McGee in various trade talks throughout the offseason, but were unable to find a taker. According to Charania, the plan is to stretch the veteran’s remaining salary when he’s waived. That means that instead of counting against the cap for $5.7MM in 2023/24 and $6MM in ’24/25, McGee’s cap hits would be spread across five seasons at a rate of about $2.35MM per year.

As Charania notes, in order to use the stretch provision on McGee, the Mavericks will have to officially waive him by August 31, which is the deadline to stretch a cap hit for the current league year.

The Mavs currently have 15 players on guaranteed contracts, but releasing McGee will open up a spot on the projected 15-man roster for Morris, who finished last season in Dallas after arriving from Brooklyn in the Kyrie Irving blockbuster.

Morris didn’t have much of a role for the Mavs down the stretch, logging just 70 total minutes across eight regular season appearances, but the organization apparently values his toughness and veteran leadership. The 33-year-old has 12 NBA seasons and 750 regular season appearances on his résumé.

Mavericks Notes: Doncic, Irving, Morris, Kidd

All-NBA guard Luka Doncic (left thigh strain) will remain unavailable on Wednesday when the Mavericks visit San Antonio, the team confirmed (via Twitter). However, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link), Doncic did accompany the Mavs on their road trip, which will continue in Los Angeles on Friday and Memphis on Monday.

As for Doncic’s backcourt mate, Kyrie Irving (right foot soreness) was listed as questionable for Wednesday’s contest, but said today that it’s “not looking good” for him to return, per MacMahon (Twitter link). It would be a third straight missed game for Irving, who continues to experience pain, especially in his big toe.

“This injury on my foot, it’s going to take a little bit more time than I thought,” Irving said (Twitter link via MacMahon). “It’s obviously still day to day, but we’ve just got to take more time.

“It’s right around my big toe, right around my plantar. I took a wrong step in New Orleans and it just felt like my knuckles cracked. I just wanted to take precautionary (measures) at this point in the season. I make my whole entire living with my feet, so I’d rather take care of it now than when I’m 40 years old.”

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • The other player Dallas acquired in the Irving trade will also likely be unavailable on Wednesday in San Antonio, as Markieff Morris (left knee soreness) has been downgraded from questionable to doubtful, according to the team (Twitter link). Morris has only logged 24 minutes across five appearances since joining the Mavs.
  • Having lost three consecutive games and nine of their last 12, the Mavericks now hold the ninth seed in the West and have fallen below .500 (34-35). Tim Cato of The Athletic wonders if Dallas’ season is beyond fixing, but identifies five ways the team might turn things around, including playing by more pragmatic lineups and committing to a direction with Christian Wood.
  • This year’s Mavericks may be charting the same course the Hawks did in 2022, when Atlanta was quickly eliminated in the first round of the playoffs after making it to the Eastern Conference Finals a year earlier, writes Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News. The Hawks’ inability to recapture their 2021 form ultimately led to Nate McMillan‘s dismissal this year, Cowlishaw notes, adding that it’s hard to say where things will stand for Jason Kidd if the Mavs don’t bounce back in the next few weeks.

Trade Breakdown: Kyrie Irving To The Mavericks

This is the second entry in our series breaking down the significant trades of the 2022/23 season. As opposed to giving out grades, this series explores why the teams were motivated to make the moves. Let’s dive into a blockbuster deal between the Mavericks and Nets

On February 6, the Nets sent Kyrie Irving and Markieff Morris to the Mavericks in exchange for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, Dallas’ 2029 first-round pick (unprotected), and second-round picks in 2027 and 2029.

The Nets’ perspective:

Irving’s trade request derailed what had been a promising season for Brooklyn. The Nets had a poor start to 2022/23, going 2-5 before parting ways with former coach Steve Nash, but found success with his replacement, Jacque Vaughn, who was formerly the team’s top assistant.

After Irving returned from his suspension following his promotion of an antisemitic film, things were looking up. At one point the Nets won 18 of 20 games, with Kyrie playing a big role in their success.

Unfortunately, Kevin Durant went down with another knee sprain, and the Nets started to lose, though not as much as they did in ’21/22 without the star forward. Irving put up big numbers in a few of their victories and was evidently displeased that the Nets didn’t offer him a full maximum-salary extension — he decided he’d had enough.

It’s hard to say that Irving’s tenure with the Nets was anything but a failure, even if he was highly productive when he was on the court. The team only won one playoff series during his stint despite having Durant healthy for two of those runs, not to mention former MVP James Harden for one. Injuries certainly played a role in that, but so did Irving’s decision making.

Over Irving’s three-and-a-half seasons with the Nets, he appeared in just 143 of a possible 278 regular season games, or 51.4%. He played in 13 of 20 playoff games (65%).

Whether it was injuries, leaving the team unexpectedly for personal reasons, refusing to get vaccinated, or a team-imposed suspension, Irving wasn’t available nearly enough and caused chaos throughout the organization. Harden asking out last year was more complicated than just Irving’s lack of availability, but it certainly played a role.

The simple fact is Irving was unreliable for Brooklyn. All you have to do is look at his games played to realize that.

From a purely basketball perspective, getting equal value in return for a player as talented as Irving was never going to be realistic. Considering he’s on an expiring contract, and given all of the issues and controversy over the past handful of years, I’m honestly surprised the Nets got as much back as they did.

Finney-Smith and Dinwiddie were arguably the Mavs’ second- and third-best players this season (in whatever order). Sure, they aren’t stars, but they helped the team win games and played big roles in Dallas reaching the Western Conference Finals in 2022, ranking second and fifth on the team, respectively, in minutes per game during the postseason (both players also shot over 40% from three-point range).

Finney-Smith doesn’t get much media attention since his playing style is selfless, but he has had a pretty remarkable career arc. After going undrafted in 2016, he caught on with the Mavs due to his defense and hustle. However, the combo forward only shot 51.7% on twos and 30.3% from deep over his first three seasons, so he was a liability offensively.

That has changed over the past three-plus seasons, with Finney-Smith improving both his two- and three-point percentages to 59.2% and 38.2%, respectively. He was a full-time starter and often had the impossible task of guarding the opposing team’s best player, credibly defending positions one through four.

While Finney-Smith may not be a lock-down one-on-one defender like OG Anunoby or an elite shooter, he is a quality 3-and-D player who has positive value. Brian Lewis of The New York Post reported after the trade that multiple teams offered two first-rounders for the veteran forward – the Nets could easily deal him in the offseason if they’re so inclined.

Dinwiddie thrived alongside Luka Doncic as a secondary play-maker over the past two seasons (he was really only on the team for about one full season, as he was acquired in February 2022). In 76 games (32.3 MPG) with the Mavs, he averaged 17.1 PPG, 3.1 RPG and 4.9 APG on a rock-solid .466/.404/.788 shooting slash line, good for a .605 true shooting percentage (the league average for guards in ‘22/23 is about 56%).

The combo guard is a below-average defensive player, but he’s big for his position (6’5″, 215 pounds), so he at least offers some versatility. He’s under contract through next season and will carry a reasonable $20.36MM cap hit in ‘23/24.

Both players will turn 30 years old later this season, so they’re in the midst of their primes. Finney-Smith is on a long-term contract that will pay him $13.93MM in ‘23/24, $14.93MM in ‘24/25, and he has a $15.38MM player option in ‘25/26.

In addition to receiving two quality rotation players, the Nets also received the Mavs’ unprotected 2029 first-round pick and a couple of second-rounders. Obviously, the unprotected first-rounder was the key to this deal being made, as there were other teams desperate to improve their chances this season, including the Lakers.

If things go south in Dallas or Irving simply walks as a free agent, how will Doncic respond? That’s what everyone in the NBA will be monitoring in the coming months (and possibly years).

If Doncic is no longer on the team six years from now, all bets are off as far as that pick goes (he can become a free agent as early as 2026). Even if he stays, it’s not like the Mavs are a world-beater or stacked with young talent. Losing Jalen Brunson in free agency and now trading away two of their best remaining players and an unprotected future pick makes it more difficult to make subsequent win-now moves.

It’s worth noting that Brooklyn saved a significant amount of money toward the luxury tax with this deal and added a couple small ($4.5MM and $1.8MM) traded player exceptions as well.

The Nets did the best they could under the circumstances. I certainly don’t blame them for not giving Irving the extension he wanted after all that’s happened over the past handful of years. Obviously there was a major downside in that it caused Durant to ask out as well, which we’ll cover in another article.

The Mavs’ perspective:

Irving’s value might be the most difficult to gauge of any player in the league, because when he’s active and on the court, there’s no question that he’s a star player worthy of a max-salary commitment. He is one of the most skilled ball-handlers in NBA history and an elite shot-maker.

An ambidextrous finisher at the rim whose creativity is unparalleled, Irving averaged 27.2 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 5.8 APG and 1.3 SPG on a terrific .490/.397/.912 shooting line (.604 TS%) in his 147 games (35.8 MPG) with the Nets.

In addition to making one of the biggest shots in NBA history in Game 7 of Cleveland’s championship victory over Golden State in 2016, Irving holds career Finals averages of 27.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 4.2 APG and 1.8 SPG on .468/.395/.926 shooting in 13 games (39.8 MPG). He has produced at an extremely high level on the highest stage, against elite competition.

When he gets hot, there’s no one in the league that can guard him. In just his fourth game as a Maverick, Irving scored 26 points on 11-of-12 shooting in the fourth quarter against Minnesota, coming close to a franchise record (only Doncic with 28 and Dirk Nowitzki with 29 have scored more in a quarter). The Mavs wound up losing the game, but Kyrie nearly single-handedly gave them a chance to tie it after being down 18 to start the fourth.

Dirk was 40 years old when Doncic was a rookie and realistically should have been retired already – he could barely move. Trading for Kristaps Porzingis didn’t work out. Irving is far and away the most talented teammate Doncic has ever played with.

Offensively, there’s plenty of reason for optimism. Irving has shown he can be an excellent 1B option next to elite players, and Doncic certainly fits that bill. There’s enough shooting left on the roster to think the Mavs will be improved on that end, and they’re already eighth in the league in offense.

Adding top-end talent is more difficult than acquiring role players. The Mavs obviously believe acquiring Irving raises the team’s ceiling — otherwise they would not have made the trade.

The Mavs could not have signed Irving – or any other top player – in free agency because they’re well over the salary cap. In fact, they added about $29MM to their luxury tax bill with this trade, per Kurt Badenhausen of Sportico.

What they gave up is about the least you could possibly expect to give up for an eight-time All-Star in the middle of his prime. Irving is averaging more points per game (27.2) this season than Dinwiddie (17.7) and Finney-Smith (8.9) combined.

That said, availability has always been an issue for Irving. He missed an average of about 17 games per year due to injuries over his first eight seasons with the Cavs and Celtics. He has missed fewer than 10 games only once in 12 seasons, back in ‘14/15 with Cleveland (he missed seven).

Even putting aside Irving’s injury history and volatility (and both of those are significant concerns), there are basketball reasons why the trade might not work out. At 6’2″, Irving doesn’t have the size to regularly guard bigger players, and he doesn’t always put forth much effort on the defensive end.

He is better than his reputation suggests when he tries, but his lack of size hurts in switching schemes. The Mavs can’t hide him on weaker offensive players because that’s what they do with Doncic.

Part of the reason why Irving made sense when paired with LeBron James and Durant is that both of those former teammates were capable of playing top-tier defense when locked in. Doncic can make plays, but a stopper he is not.

Trading away two quality rotation players for one great-when-available player hurt the team’s size, defensive versatility and depth. Morris was included because he was unhappy with his playing time – he has yet to play a game for Dallas.

Josh Green is having a breakout third season for the Mavs. Instead of being a quality reserve, he’s now a heavy-minutes starter. How he responds will be critical to the team’s chances for the rest of the season and beyond.

Rookie Jaden Hardy, another guard, has also had a real role post-trade after excelling in the G League. He looks overmatched defensively, but he’s fun to watch when he gets going on offense.

The Mavs reached the Western Conference Finals last season primarily because they had the league’s seventh-best defense. The main reason they have already nearly equaled last season’s loss total (52-30 vs. 31-29) is because they have fallen all the way to 24th in defense.

Green, Reggie Bullock and Maxi Kleber (once he returns from a torn hamstring) will be absolutely vital in trying to hold together some semblance of a competent defensive unit. It will be a tall order, especially in the playoffs, assuming Dallas makes it in.

It seems odd to make such a bold trade for perhaps the NBA’s most mercurial and unpredictable star when the team is already in a precarious position in the standings – the Mavs are currently the No. 6 seed in the West, but only two games away from completely missing the play-in tournament. Perhaps they believed they needed to shake things up because the previous roster wasn’t going anywhere.

Obviously, Doncic signed off and approved of the deal. The fact that Irving has longstanding relationships with president of basketball operations Nico Harrison and head coach Jason Kidd theoretically helps.

Even in the most optimistic scenarios, Dallas will have difficult choices to make in the offseason. Let’s say Irving and Doncic’s partnership is fruitful, Christian Wood plays well, Green thrives in a bigger role and the Mavs have another long playoff run. Green will be eligible for a rookie scale extension, Wood is a free agent and they’ll almost be forced to give Irving a massive new contract, assuming he wants to stay. That didn’t turn out very well for the Nets.

If things go south – say they miss the playoffs outright or lose in the play-in tournament – Irving could walk in free agency. In that scenario, the Mavs would have given up two quality players on reasonable contracts, an unprotected first-rounder and two second-rounders for at most 26 regular season games of Irving (he has already missed one game with lower back tightness). Dinwiddie and Finney-Smith were reportedly positive voices in the locker room on top of being solid players.

Irving threatened to undergo season-ending knee surgery if Cleveland didn’t trade him in the 2017 offseason. Two years later, he left Boston in free agency after publicly saying he was going to re-sign with the Celtics. Now he requested and was traded out of Brooklyn after feeling disrespected by not getting a maximum-salary extension.

How long will he last in Dallas if things don’t go the way he wants? Will that have a ripple effect on Doncic like it did with Durant? The Mavericks may have bolstered their championship upside if they can build out the roster around Doncic and Irving, but the risk of everything going up in flames is also exponentially higher than it was before making the deal.

Nets Notes: Simmons, Durant, Trade Market, Morris

After missing five straight games due to left knee soreness, Ben Simmons returned to action on Tuesday for the Nets. However, his first game back wasn’t exactly a huge success, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post, who notes that Simmons had just two points and six assists to go along with four turnovers and twisted his ankle in the second quarter of the loss to Phoenix.

“It’s a little swollen, but I’m happy with an ankle sprain over anything with the knee or back,” Simmons said of his tweaked ankle. “So I’ll take this over anything else.”

Simmons added that his knee soreness is related to the back surgery he underwent last spring and stressed that he still has a ways to go before he’s feeling 100% again.

“Back surgery is not a light thing so it takes time,” he said, per Lewis. “Back surgery, you’re affected everywhere. Your knees. So it’s just something I gotta stay on top of. I’ve been saying it from the start. There’s gonna be ups and downs. … I’m not gonna be the same player I was a few years ago. That’s gonna take time to get back.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • It may be difficult for the Nets to acquire roster upgrades ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on his latest Hoop Collective podcast. As Windhorst explains, with teams around the NBA hoping that Kevin Durant will become available again, those clubs are reluctant to make a deal with Brooklyn that would help the club strengthen Durant’s supporting cast and would reduce the likelihood of another KD trade request.
  • Markieff Morris wasn’t upset about being sent to Dallas along with Kyrie Irving. In fact, he told reporters on Wednesday that he was hoping to be traded along with Irving after Kyrie asked to be dealt, as Tim MacMahon of ESPN relays (via Twitter). “I just wanted somewhere I could have the opportunity to play,” said Morris, who was averaging a career-low 10.6 minutes per game in 27 appearances for the Nets. “I didn’t really play at all this year being in Brooklyn. … I just want to play basketball.”
  • In case you missed it, we passed along multiple other Nets-related tidbits earlier today, including details on how much case they sent Sacramento in the Kessler Edwards trade and rumors related to Cam Thomas and Nic Claxton.

Nets Trade Kyrie Irving To Mavericks

FEBRUARY 6: Despite efforts by the Nets to expand the deal and involve a third team, the trade remains a two-team swap and is now official, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

The Mavericks’ PR department confirms the trade is official in a tweet.

Nets GM Sean Marks issued a statement, Chris Milholen of Nets Daily tweets, saying in part, “We’re excited to add Spencer and Dorian to our roster, while also securing draft compensation that will increase our flexibility moving forward.”

FEBRUARY 5: The Nets and Mavericks have agreed to a trade that will send point guard Kyrie Irving to Dallas, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

According to Charania (Twitter link) and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter links), Brooklyn will receive guard Spencer Dinwiddie, forward Dorian Finney-Smith, an unprotected 2029 first-round pick, a 2027 second-round pick, and a 2029 second-round pick in the swap. Those draft picks will all be the Mavericks’ own.

The Nets will also send forward Markieff Morris to the Mavs, Charania adds.

News of the agreement between the two teams comes just two days after word broke that Irving had requested a trade out of Brooklyn following failed negotiations on a contract extension. Reports at that time indicated that the All-Star guard had conveyed to the Nets that he planned to leave in free agency if he wasn’t dealt by the February 9 trade deadline.

The Nets wasted little time accommodating Irving’s request, having perhaps grown weary of the drama that has surrounded the 30-year-old since his arrival in Brooklyn in 2019. During those three-and-a-half years, Irving has missed significant time due to injuries, taken personal leaves of absence, refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19 despite a New York City mandate that prevented him from playing in home games, and served a team-issued suspension for promoting an antisemitic film on social media.

On the court, Irving played at his usual high level in 143 total games as a Net, averaging 27.1 points, 5.8 assists, and 4.8 rebounds per night with a .489/.396/.909 shooting line in 35.8 minutes per game. However, his and Kevin Durant‘s brilliance didn’t translate to much postseason success — Brooklyn has won just a single playoff series since adding the two stars in 2019.

By trading Irving for a package that includes both veteran players and future draft picks, the Nets – who currently occupy the fourth seed in the East at 32-20 – will set themselves up to remain in contention this year while also securing some assets for the future. Kyrie was set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, but Dinwiddie is under contract for another season and Finney-Smith’s deal runs all the way through 2025/26 (the final year is a player option).

The Mavs, meanwhile, will get the co-star they wanted for All-NBA guard Luka Doncic and their new-look backcourt should be the NBA’s most dynamic, though the move carries substantial risk. The trade will cost Dallas two of its most reliable rotation players, with Dinwiddie having averaged 17.7 PPG on .455/.405/.821 shooting and Finney-Smith handling key defensive assignments on the wing.

Additionally, while Irving could technically sign a two-year extension with the Mavs anytime before June 30, Sam Amick of The Athletic reported earlier today that Kyrie’s preference is to play out the current season and seek a longer-term maximum-salary contract as a free agent, so Dallas may have to take its chances with the mercurial star this summer. Obviously, the organization will be motivated to make it work with Irving — the front office wouldn’t have paid this price if it expected him to be a rental.

According to Marc Stein (Twitter link), the Mavericks consulted with Doncic before agreeing to trade for Irving, who is said to be “ecstatic” to join forces with Luka in Dallas, per Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). Mavs president of basketball operations Nico Harrison, formerly a top Nike executive, has a long-standing relationship with Kyrie, notes Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Both the Mavericks and Nets were already on track to be taxpayers this season, but because Irving ($36.9MM) and Morris ($1.8MM) have a higher combined cap hit than Dinwiddie ($20.2MM) and Finney-Smith ($12.4MM), the move will reduce Brooklyn’s projected end-of-season tax bill by about $26.5MM and increase Dallas’ by nearly $29MM, per Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype (Twitter links).

Irving and Finney-Smith have trade bonuses in their contracts. Irving’s is worth 15% of his remaining salary, while Finney-Smith’s is worth 5%. There has been no indication yet that either player will waive or reduce his bonus.

The Lakers, Clippers, and Suns were also said to have interest in Irving, so the Mavs beat out several Western Conference rivals to land him. According to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), the Lakers and Nets had several conversations about a possible deal, but Brooklyn preferred Dallas’ package that included useful present and future pieces — trade talks between the two teams accelerated today, Woj adds.

Nets To Guarantee Contracts For Watanabe, Sumner, Morris

Yuta Watanabe, Edmond Sumner and Markieff Morris will have their contracts guaranteed by the Nets for the rest of the season, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Saturday marks the deadline for teams to waive players on non-guaranteed contracts and avoid paying their full-season salaries.

Watanabe has been a tremendous find after signing with Brooklyn in August. He’s making 51.4% of his three-point shots, the best percentage in the league, and is averaging a career-high 7.7 points per game in his fifth NBA season.

Sumner has become a reliable rotation player after missing all of last year with an Achilles injury. The Nets acquired him in a trade with Indiana before the start of the 2021/22 season, then re-signed him last offseason. Sumner has appeared in 33 games, averaging 6.8 PPG in 14.4 minutes per night.

Brooklyn is the seventh team for Morris in a 12-year NBA career. He has only played 19 games and averages 11.4 minutes, but he provides a valuable veteran presence to help mentor the Nets’ young big men.