Mavericks HC Kidd feels Kyrie trade opens the team's championship window

By Sports Desk February 06, 2023

Jason Kidd is extremely bullish about the Dallas Mavericks' chances in the playoffs after acquiring mercurial superstar Kyrie Irving from the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday.

In the biggest trade of the season so far, the Mavericks sent Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, a first-round pick and two second-rounders to the Nets in exchange for Irving and depth forward Markieff Morris.

The move means the Mavericks are the only team with two players named as starters in this year's All-Star Game, with Irving receiving his eighth selection overall after putting up averages of 27.1 points, 5.3 assists and 5.1 rebounds while playing in 40 of Brooklyn's first 51 games.

Dallas made a surprising run to the Western Conference Finals this past season with Jalen Brunson as Luka Doncic's number two, and Kidd was not shy about calling the move from Brunson to Irving an upgrade.

"When you look at Ky, nothing against [Brunson], but Ky is at a different level," he said. "This gives us another weapon. Someone is going to be free. Someone is going to have the advantage."

Doncic's usage rate of 37.6 per cent is the second-highest in the league behind Philadelphia 76ers centrepiece Joel Embiid (37.8 per cent), and Kidd said the addition of Irving should help that number come down to a more sustainable level.

"When you look at [Doncic's] usage, it's at 99.9, so it has to come down," he said in jest. 'It's going to come down – and that's a healthy thing. It's not a bad thing. 

"He'll be stronger in the fourth [quarter], the team will be better. Then the trust between the two – it's going to take some time to get that rhythm and trust, but Ky is about winning.

"We're still going to preach defense, being able to get stops, but there's going to be nights where we're going to try to make you feel uncomfortable on the offensive end with scoring 130 or 140.

"Some nights, you're going to have to use the offense as your defense, but Ky's going to compete on the defensive end. Luka's going to compete on the defensive end. 

"But when you look at the offensive end – can we put pressure on the opponent, and are they going to be comfortable to be able to score that many points?"

Kidd referenced Irving's track record as a champion with the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, where Irving hit the game-winning three-pointer over Stephen Curry in their Game 7 victory on the road.

"You look at his journey at other stops, he's won where he's gone," he said. "We feel that the talent and his abilities to make us better are something that we needed. 

"We feel that getting him is going to help put us in a position to win a championship."

Irving's former team-mate on the Nets Theo Pinson will be a familiar face in Dallas, and he said he is excited to see how teams decide to guard the dynamic duo.

"Pick your poison," he said. "It's one of those things where I don't know what you do, personally – I really don't. 

"You can trap Luka all you want now. We swing it to another killer. It's going to be fun to watch."

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