Kyrie Irving is the ultimate wildcard for the Dallas Mavericks

Kyrie Irving, Dallas Mavericks (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Kyrie Irving, Dallas Mavericks (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Mavericks’ recent acquisition of superstar Kyrie Irving has been seen as a home run, and it very well could be, but it is not without risk. Irving has worn out his welcome in each of his three previous NBA stops and may do so in Dallas too. What’s different about this Dallas situation is that he is only under contract through the end of the season, and the Mavericks have no assurances about re-signing him.

That doesn’t mean that they won’t, but Irving’s relationship with the Nets broke down after they failed to meet his contract demands, and even the Lakers were seemingly hesitant to offer him a four-year max contract. The Mavericks could be more willing to offer that contract, considering they traded significant assets to land him in the first place. However, there is a lot that still needs to be figured out.

A lot can go right for the Mavericks with Irving, but a lot can go wrong too.

Adding Irving helps the Mavericks in several key ways. First and foremost, superstar Luka Doncic had been applying pressure to get the team to make major upgrades ahead of the trade deadline. The front office did just that, even asking his permission before making the trade, likely earning back some of his respect after a series of sketchy roster moves.

On-court, Irving is a spectacular offensive player, one who can take over games in nearly the same way that Doncic can. Having a co-star who is almost as explosive should do wonders for the Mavericks’ offense, which often relied too heavily on Doncic to score and create. It should also raise their ceiling in an already wide-open Western Conference.

The obvious worst-case scenario would be that Irving and Doncic don’t mesh together on and off the court over the final third of the season and in the playoffs. That could push Irving closer to the door, and without a contract in place, he’d be free to leave in free agency this summer.

That’s at least a possibility that could happen. The Lakers have been linked to him since last summer and nearly traded for him. He could finally join LeBron James in Los Angeles via a sign-and-trade. Or perhaps the Phoenix Suns, who traded for his former teammate Kevin Durant, could be in the market for a new point guard this summer. Losing Irving to a rival would hurt, but a sign-and-trade would at least allow Dallas to recoup some lost value.

I’m getting ahead of myself, but the Mavericks traded most of their few remaining draft assets to acquire Irving. Betting on Irving to stay healthy and/or drama-free is a bet that three other teams made and lost. Perhaps the fourth time is the charm, and the Mavericks get Irving on his best behavior and tear through the playoffs on their way to a championship.

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Then, they re-sign him to a reasonable contract in the off-season, and all is well in Dallas. That’s what the hope is for Mavericks fans, but the flip side would be him sabotaging this season, then bolting to a conference rival four months later. That would be a kick in the teeth and could eventually lead to Doncic wanting out. There’s a lot at stake, but the payoff could be huge.