Kyrie Irving free agency landing spot: Mavericks ready to retain star, but where else could he go?

2023 nba draft What’s behind us now focuses on every main event nba Offseason: Free agency. There might not be too many major names on the market this summer, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some surprises as every team in the league tries to improve for next season. One of the top names hitting the market this summer is All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, who is looking to secure another long-term, lucrative deal after being traded from the Brooklyn Nets to the Dallas Mavericks in February.

Irving may be looking for a max contract, but the market isn’t exactly strong for this mercurial star due to years of controversial comments and decisions on and off the court. Plus, Irving is still one of the most talented offensive players in the NBA, and as we saw with the trade to Dallas in February, there’s always a team willing to take a risk on him.

As we await free agency, here are three landing spots for Irving when free agency begins on June 30.

1. Dallas Mavericks

After trading for Irving at the February deadline, which also included sending out Dorian Finney-Smith, a 2029 unprotected first-round pick and two second-round picks to Spencer Dinwiddie, Dallas’ No. 1 priority all over this summer Have to sign again. Star Guard. Fortunately for Dallas, there is no long list of teams offering Irving a potential four-year, $201.7 million max contract. The Mavericks are also able to offer Irving a fifth year and a total of $272.9 million if both sides agree to that number.

However, with a max contract offer to Irving comes significant risk, and the documented issues in Boston and Brooklyn are proof enough that Dallas should do a little bargaining before signing a deal. While Irving comes with a lot of baggage that has the potential to limit his availability, there is no denying that he is an electric offensive presence, and he proved that in limited time with the Mavericks last season. Has done

In 20 games played for Dallas after the trade, he averaged 27 points, six assists and five rebounds while shooting 51% from the field and 39.2% from deep. The partnership with Doncic was short-lived due to injuries, but in 16 games the two played together, Dallas had an offensive rating of 121.7, which would have ranked first in the entire league. The Mavericks also only managed to go 5–11 in those games, and notoriously tanked The last two games of the regular season when they still had a small chance of making it to the play-in round.

Irving put on the immediate offensive performance we’ve come to expect from him, and he certainly takes some of the offensive pressure off Doncic. While it remains to be seen whether Doncic and Irving can successfully co-exist for an extended period of time, Dallas basically painted itself into a corner the moment it traded for him. Re-signing him this offseason is more important than anything else. He then has to deal with the unpredictability that comes with Irving.

It has been repeatedly pointed out that the Lakers plan to bring back their own people and are not interested in Irving. They have already extended qualifying offers to Austin Reeves and Rui Hachimura, making them restricted free agents and allowing them to match any deals offered by another team. Jared Vanderbilt also received his $4.7 million team offer, ensuring that he would be on the team next season unless he was included in the trade package for someone else. It is also reported that the Lakers intend to re-sign D’Angelo Russell on the open market. Despite all this, however, the Lakers will be attached to Irving as long as LeBron James is on that team.

It was reported in February that the Lakers had made a trade offer for Irving to the Nets, but that Dallas’ deal was more lucrative. There’s also a clear history of play between James and Irving, who won a championship together in 2016 on the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron has spoken publicly about wanting to play with Irving again, and throughout the postseason Irving was seen courtside at Lakers games. , Although there haven’t been any recent reports suggesting that the Lakers intend to go down the Irving path again – in fact the opposite has happened – yet that doesn’t mean it definitely won’t happen. It will require some financial effort for the Lakers to bring Irving to LA, but it can be done if both sides are eager to make a partnership. Especially if Irving took a pay cut instead of seeking a max contract.

From an on-court perspective, Irving would be an immediate upgrade to Russell, and there is already history to suggest that he would be an ideal pairing with LeBron. He already has experience sharing ballhandling responsibilities with James, and Anthony Davis will benefit from Irving’s passes. But considering all the off-court burdens that have historically come with Irving and the amount he’s looking for, it’s understandable why the Lakers wouldn’t jump at the chance to sign him this summer. But like I said before, we’ve seen teams willing to take a risk on him before, and if the Lakers ultimately decide he’s worth that risk, maybe they’ll reconsider bringing him on.

Call it Plan B for the Rockets, because that’s pretty much what it’s being told. Houston has long been linked to James Harden, hoping to bring him back to H-Town this summer and pry him away from the Philadelphia 76ers. But the Sixers offer Harden a better chance to win right now, and if he eventually re-signs with the Sixers, The Rockets are reportedly planning to focus on Irving this summer. It’s an odd change considering Houston already has two high-use guards on their roster in Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr., so bringing Irving into the mix will certainly take the ball out of their hands. . But Houston is one of the few teams in the league with a substantial amount of cap space, $60 million to be precise, and they have the type of money to offer Irving the max-out contract he was looking for when He was with Brooklyn.

Irving landing with Houston may seem strange, but it is reported that he plans to hold meetings with several teams when free agency opens, and Houston could be one of them if they miss out on Harden. This could be a leverage move on the part of Irving and his entourage to try to sway the Mavericks to their offer. But considering the short list of teams actually interested in him at the price point he’s seeking, it may not end well for Dallas. Plus, of the two Texas teams, the Mavericks clearly offer the better path to victory right now with Doncic on the roster, so if that was the most important aspect for Irving, Dallas checks that box. Still, if the Mavericks are trying to bargain down the number of years and money on Irving’s new deal, he could become exasperated with the situation and look elsewhere for a new team.

Although most signs are pointing to Irving re-signing in Dallas, there is always room for the unexpected, and the Lakers and Rockets offer exactly that. We’ll have to see when free agency begins on June 30th where Irving ultimately decides to go, but it looks like he’s trying to make the Mavericks sweat a little.

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