Less than two weeks into his tenure with the Mavericks, star guard Kyrie Irving already has tried shutting down questions surrounding his future in Dallas.
Irving told reporters ahead of Monday’s game, his first home contest with the Mavericks following a trade from the Nets, that getting asked those types of questions — “What’s the long term? What’s the long term? What is it?” — is “emotionally draining” and “puts unwarranted distractions on us and our team,” according to ESPN.
It’s something Irving has dealt with before, he added, and he doesn’t want to go through it again.
“Just taking it one day at a time,” Irving later said in his answer. “That’s all I can do in this life. What the future holds is really only gonna be dictated on what I do right now and how I prepare for those next steps. And that’s being the best teammate I can in that locker room, being a great leader out here within the Dallas community, within the NBA, and just continue to be myself and develop.
“You can just put that to bed and just focus on what we have ahead as a team.”
The deal that sent Irving to Dallas was Brooklyn’s first move in a trade deadline that made the collapse of its Big 3 — Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden — official. Harden ended up in Philadelphia last season. Irving demanded a trade and was paired with Luka Doncic in Dallas. And Durant, in a late-night blockbuster, ended up with the Suns, who made the Western Conference semifinals last season and have emerged as title contenders again.
Irving was reportedly “ecstatic” about his deal, while also feeling “disrespected” by the Nets, and he took a jab at Brooklyn in his introductory press conference by telling reporters in Dallas that he wanted to be in a place “where I’m celebrated and not just tolerated or just dealt with in a way that doesn’t make me feel respected.”
Later, Irving also added that he was “glad” Durant parted ways with Brooklyn, too. And that left Nets general manager Sean Marks to face reporters on Thursday, the day of the NBA’s trade deadline, and tell reporters that the Big 3 “didn’t work”
Across 72 hours, a new era began in Brooklyn, but this one likely won’t be defined by the same drama. Irving’s off-court issues — from a refusal to get the COVID-19 vaccine to endorsing an anti-Semitic film — overshadowed his accomplishments with the Nets.
Irving has scored 24 or more points in each of his four games with the Mavericks, and he exploded for 36 in their victory Monday night. He played with Doncic for the first time on Saturday, and Doncic said postgame that it’s “really fun to play with this guy.”
Any extension of their pairing beyond the 2022-23 season won’t be discussed if Irving gets his request, though.
“I will say that from the start of when I came here, there’s been nothing but a warm embrace, nothing but genuine love and nothing but a familiarity of relationships that I could really look to in times of questioning or confusion,” Irving said.