There was a lot of fanfare when Kyrie Irving was traded to the Dallas Mavericks before the trade deadline, but things haven’t worked out quite like the Dallas Mavericks thought. By pairing Luka Doncic with another superstar shot maker, Mark Cuban and Mavericks management thought that they would have enough offensive firepower to maintain their position in the Western Conference.
However, the Mavericks have instead fallen to 11th place after a 110-104 defeat to the Charlotte Hornets, who are the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference. Doncic tried his best to help them win the game, finishing with 40 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, two steals and two blocks, but Irving was only able to produce 18 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block.
The rest of the Mavericks scored only 45 points, including five points from their other three starters. Even against a lowly opponent, such a low output outside of their stars is going to make winning any NBA game difficult.
Losing a game against the Hornets is worrying, but what is even more concerning to the Mavericks is the displeasure that Doncic showed in the press conference afterwards. He alluded to issues outside of basketball affecting him, and his demeanor clearly showed a man that is not going through the best of times.
When asked about his teammate’s comments, Irving had a few things to say.
With only seven games left in the regular season, the Mavericks now have to fight for a play-in spot. They have a game against the Indiana Pacers next, which Doncic may miss because he was called for his 16th technical foul of the season against the Hornets. For a team that had (perhaps unrealistic) hopes of contending for a title after gutting what little depth they had to bring Irving to town, the season has been a disappointment.
Irving is set to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, which muddies things up even more for the Mavericks. There’s no guarantee he’ll stay and if there’s one certainty, no one except Irving can predict his next move.