Mavs guard Kyrie Irving has opened up about his decision to resign with Dallas and his relationship with co-star Luka Doncic.
The eight-time All-Star re-signed with Dallas during free agency on a three-year deal worth up to $126 million, despite the rampant speculation he would join LeBron’s Lakers.
The 31-year-old revealed he was more than happy to return to Dallas, while admitting there wasn’t a whole heap of other options on the table.
“It wasn’t too difficult of a process,” Irving said after Thursday’s practice. “Had Dallas as No. 1 on my list. Obviously I looked elsewhere — salary cap opportunities, where I could fit in with other guys around the league — but there just wasn’t much space. And me being 31 now, I had to have a different vantage point, and I felt like I could not just settle here but be happy to come back here and be welcomed back with a warm embrace.
“I had already dealt with enough last season or the past two seasons, so they knew that I just wanted a lot of that off my back and off my shoulders of feeling like I had to be Superman or I had to be perfect. I just wanted to be myself. And then going on the last few years, just figuring myself out. So I think this is the best place to do it and continue to mature and grow as a man.”
Irving likes the Mavs so much that he said he “wishes” the franchise were in a position to draft him back in 2011. That one’s gotta sting, Cavs fans.
Irving says he wishes Dallas had been in position to draft him in 2011: That’s how strongly he feels about the organization and its culture, now that he’s been part of it.
— Brad Townsend (@townbrad) September 28, 2023
As for his combination with Slovenian superstar Luka Doncic on the court, Irving says there were too many unrealistic expectations placed upon them in too short a timeline.
“I think we were being too passive with one another,” Irving said. “We’re both killers on the court, everybody knows it. We want to win. So we just have to continue to have that consistent mentality together and lead the team as best we can alongside other guys that have experience in this league or young guys that we have to coach even more. So it’s all been a learning experience. It was so quick last year and it was so much pressure on us to win now, win big, and ‘It’s Luka and Kyrie, why can’t you guys win games?’ So we were answering a lot of questions that honestly I don’t think we were ready for.
“And health is everything in this league. So us not being 100 percent and going through last season and trying to do the best we could mentally and emotionally and physically, I got to give ourselves some grace and some credit.”
Irving (foot) and Doncic (thigh) both dealt with injuries at the back end of the season.
And in the games they did play together, the pair went 5-11 and ultimately, the franchise didn’t do enough to make it to the postseason.
Luka believes that having extra time for working out with Kyrie during training camp and preseason will make all the difference.
The Mavericks 2023-24 season will tell us everything we need to know.