Basketball often seems like a secondary topic whenever Irving is involved, but the Mavericks are now Point Guard Central — an experiment they hope will lift them out of mediocrity and into the championship chase. Irving will be playing alongside Luka Doncic, who, at 23, is already one of the league’s brightest stars. Like Irving, Doncic enjoys creating with the ball in his hands. The job of getting them to produce together will fall on Jason Kidd, the team’s coach and a Hall of Fame point guard who knows the position.
“Those two are going to work and get their relationship and get their rhythm,” Kidd said. “It’s going to take a little time, but I don’t think it will take as long as others will think.”
Kidd added: “This isn’t two 23-year-olds trying to see who’s the alpha. We understand this is Luka’s team. And it will be Luka’s team.”
Irving’s departure from Brooklyn brought an end to a once-promising partnership with Kevin Durant. Irving reminisced about joining the Nets with Durant in free agency before the 2019-20 season, saying they saw themselves as “savants in the culture that we wanted to teach the young’uns.” The dream, Irving said, was to win a championship.
With Irving and Durant, the Nets won exactly one playoff series and were swept by the Boston Celtics in the first round last season. Durant has not spoken publicly since the trade.
“I mean, obviously he wished things could’ve gone different,” Irving said, adding: “It just didn’t work out. We still remain brothers.”
Durant has missed the Nets’ last 13 games with a knee injury.
Irving, who is in the final year of his contract, had been hoping to work out an extension to remain in Brooklyn. But on Jan. 25, Shetellia Riley Irving, his agent and stepmother, told Bleacher Report that those negotiations were not progressing. His trade request was made public last week.
“I wish them well,” Irving said. “Left them in fourth place. Did what I was supposed to do. Took care of my teammates.”
Tania Ganguli contributed reporting from Los Angeles.