Luka Doncic must be pissed. After averaging 32.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 8.1 assists per game for the 2022-23 season, he and the Dallas Mavericks are officially out of the postseason.
With the slimmest chance of still making the play-in tournament, the Mavericks opted to sit out Kyrie Irving, Josh Green, Tim Hardaway Jr., Maxi Kleber and Christian Wood, while Doncic only played until the beginning of the first quarter.
The decision seemed baffling at first, but a big motivation to give up on the play-in chase had a lot to do with their draft pick this season, which is top 10 protected. With things clearly not gelling well enough between Doncic and Irving, the Mavericks organization decided that the best course of action was to add another player to the roster via the draft, because they have precious few trade assets left after swinging for the fences on Irving just before the All-Star break.
Doncic, who voiced his desire to play as long as Dallas stood a chance, will now be watching the playoffs from home. That’s a far cry from where he was last season, leading the Dallas Mavericks to the Western Conference Finals after laying down one of the biggest Game 7 beatdowns on the Phoenix Suns in the second round. You know, the game where Luka Doncic scored 27 points in the first half to match the entire Suns’ team’s output.
The Mavericks now face an uncertain future, as they gave up their best wing defender in Dorian Finney-Smith and a capable Spencer Dinwiddie in the Irving trade. Irving, who is an unrestricted free agent, is looking for a max contract, and now it looks like Mark Cuban might have no choice but to give it to him. That offer may not even be enough, as Irving could decide to join another team anyway.
Even worse for the Mavericks is how Jalen Brunson ended up putting up an excellent season for the Knicks and leading them to the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. If the Mavericks just extended him when they had the chance, they never would have needed to make that Irving trade.
Irving can’t take the blame for the season, though. The entire organization has to. In 20 games for the Mavericks, Irving put up 27 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists. His offensive prowess was on show as recently as their game against the Sacramento Kings where he went nuclear in the second half to help the Mavericks overcome a 13-point deficit.
Dallas gave up their depth to acquire Irving and it seemed like a puzzling move then. Now, the naysayers have been proven correct.
While Doncic is still under contract for three more seasons, with a player option for the fourth, his discontent is starting to become more obvious these days. If the Mavericks can’t right the ship next season, who knows if he’ll force his way out of Dallas?
The offseason will sure be interesting for Mavericks fans. Let’s see how things turn out then.