August 13, 2022

Turns out the culprit wasn’t the North Texas heat. Or those extra onions in potato salad. Or habanero barbecue sauce.

Our acid reflux flare-ups this holiday weekend weren’t induced by intolerable weather or cuisine, but rather by persistent reports of “Kyrie Irving” and “Mavericks” in the same sentence.

That diagnosis was confirmed by Sunday’s fallout from the Mavericks’ latest offseason setback, when their long-rumored and widely suspected free agent target Goran Dragic agreed to a one-year contract with Chicago.

Dallas failure – or was it a decision? – to convert what amounted to an undisputed layup by signing Luka Doncic’s 36-year-old mentor and fellow Slovenian has further fueled speculation that Governor Mark Cuban and chief executive Nico Harrison have bigger ideas for the the team’s only remaining spot.

For example, Irving, the unquestionably skilled but mercurial 30-year-old guard from Brooklyn.

Say it’s not true, Nico.

On the night of the June 23 draft, a Mavericks source dismissed any suggestion that Dallas would pursue Irving after Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the Mavericks were among seven teams Irving would host a trade to.

Irving ultimately opted for the final year of his $36.5 million contract, but teammate Kevin Durant’s trade request just hours before the start of free agency last Thursday made it all but certain that he and Irving will be treated.

Saturday, Charania characterized the Lakers, Philadelphia and Dallas as Irving’s suitors. Unfortunately, he meant Irving the player, not the beautiful city adjacent to Dallas.

Irving the player is certainly enticing, with his jaw-dropping grips and three-season Nets averages of 27.1 points, 6.0 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 49% shooting.

The problem is that Irving, the person, carries more luggage as a locker room presence than Kim Kardashian on a month-long cruise. His fingerprints are all over Brooklyn’s monumental implosion. His wake of destruction dates back to two controversial seasons in Boston.

He’s far from the embodiment of chemistry and responsibility, as coach Jason Kidd pointed out on the first day of training camp last September.

Those words were the foundation on which Harrison, Kidd and the coaching staff built the culture of a Mavericks team that achieved the NBA’s third-best record after New Year’s and had a surprising run to the final. Western Conference Finals.

Yet this weekend, particularly after Sunday’s Dragic news, a notable chunk of Mavericks fans on social media had resigned themselves to believing that an Irving season wasn’t much of a risk, that the potential advantages far outweighed the disadvantages.

Listen, I understand. Losing Jalen Brunson without compensation badly stung the Mavericks and the MFFL.

Year after year, getting pushed down the aisle by free agents is hard enough. Having one of yours file for divorce and run off to the team it appears in hindsight he did more than flirt with is particularly painful.

It’s also apparent that despite the additions of big men Christian Wood and JaVale McGee, Dallas’ offseason so far has its roster trailing that of Golden State, the Clippers, Denver, Minnesota and possibly of New Orleans. What if Durant ended up in Phoenix or San Francisco?

Durant is the gorgeous mansion you overpay for no questions asked, not even asking for an inspection. Irving is the eye-catching estate with all the bells and whistles, but also a cracked foundation and mold behind the walls.

Irving is the acquisition of a desperate, or desperate and stupid team like the Lakers. The Mavericks with Doncic, 23, coming out of the Western Conference Finals and needing roster improvement, shouldn’t be in desperate mode.

As questionable as Irving might seem to be for the locker room and the culture, it’s equally surprising to wonder how Irving and Doncic, dominating the ball, would fit in the same backcourt.

This isn’t about Sunday’s Dragic news. It’s understandable why fans and probably Doncic are disappointed, but in reality, Dragic, 36, wasn’t going to fill Brunson’s void or make Dallas a Western Conference favorite.

The Mavericks would be better served pushing Cleveland restricted free agent Collin Sexton. Or take a calculated bet on TJ Warren. Or even trade for 33-year-old Bojan Bogdanovic.

But Kyrie Irving? Excuse me while I enjoy what’s left of the vacation, ideally with a slice of apple pie. Fashionable, of course.

Twitter: @Townbrad

Future Dallas Maverick Goran Dragic agrees to sign contract with Chicago Bulls
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