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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Guardian sport

Kyrie Irving teaming with Doncic after Mavericks and Nets agree trade, say reports

Kyrie Irving was named as a starter in this year’s All-Star game
Kyrie Irving was named as a starter in this year’s All-Star game. Photograph: Brad Penner/USA Today Sports

The latest stop in the Kyrie Irving roadshow appears to be Texas, after the Brooklyn Nets reportedly agreed to trade the point guard to the Dallas Mavericks.

If the terms are finalized, Irving will team up with another perennial All-Star, Luka Doncic. The Mavericks reached the Western Conference finals last season, but the team has often been accused of failing to surround Doncic with the talent necessary to complement his undoubted talent.

The Mavericks are 28-26 this season and are in the sixth and final automatic playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Nets are fourth in the Eastern Conference but their form has suffered since an injury to the team’s other All-Star, Kevin Durant. Durant’s future in Brooklyn has also been under scrutiny and it remains to be seen what effect Irving’s departure will have on the future Hall of Famer.

According to ESPN, the Nets will receive Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie, a 2027 first-round pick and second-round picks in return for Irving. The 30-year-old requested to be traded by the Nets earlier this week after failing to agree on a contract extension. His four seasons in Brooklyn have been rocky. He has suffered from injuries, missed large parts of last season due to his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and was suspended by the Nets this season after posting a link to an antisemitic film and then initially refusing to apologize. His career with his other teams, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics, also ended under a cloud. He requested a trade from the Cavaliers after saying he no longer wanted to play in LeBron James’s shadow, and fell out with Celtics fans before leaving Boston.

However Irving’s playing skills, when he is on the court, are not in doubt. He is an eight-time All-Star and averaged a career-high 27.4 points per game last season, albeit with reduced playing time. This season he is averaging 27.1 points per game and was named a starter for the Eastern Conference All-Star team. He is due to become a free agent at the end of the season, at which point he and the Mavericks can decide whether they want to make his stay in Dallas long-term.

Doncic, meanwhile, is considered one of the most talented young players in the league. At the age of 23, he is already a four-time All-Star and is averaging 33.4 points per game this season, the second best figure in the league. But he often appears to be carrying the team on his back. Whether or not Irving will prove to be a reliable long-term partner remains to be seen.

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