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On Sunday afternoon, the Nets and Mavericks agreed to a deal that sent Kyrie Irving and Markieff Morris to Dallas for Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, a first-round and multiple second-round picks, per Shams Charania. Irving is expected to make his debut with the Mavs against the Clippers on Wednesday, per Adrian Wojnarowski.
After publicly making his trade request known, the Nets wasted no time dealing Irving, who has been a thorn in the side of multiple front offices and fanbases in recent years. Let’s take a look at how NBA Championship odds shifted and how this deal will likely impact both teams.
Directly following the trade, Dallas’ NBA Championship odds moved from +1900 to +1400 at FanDuel. Per Chris Haynes, Irving is “ecstatic” about his landing spot and is “looking forward” to joining forces with Luka Doncic. Despite that initial optimism from Irving’s camp, the Mavericks made this trade without the expectation of a long-term extension. Keith Smith noted that the deal wipes away some long-term salary just in case everything goes poorly and Kyrie bounces.
Let's be honest... he probably will.
Dallas (28-26) began Sunday in sixth place in the Western Conference, so their need for some change by the deadline was obvious. The team has been wildly inconsistent in different settings as their 19-9 home record and 9-17 road record proves and Doncic has been shouldering most of the load offensively, eating up a ton of usage. While Dinwiddie was a capable ball-handler, Irving has true game-changing, score-at-will potential and should take some of the pressure off of Luka. The loss of Finney-Smith creates a void on the wing and I expect Dallas to make at least one more move, but at the time of this writing, here’s what the Mavs’ starting five and rotation will most likely look like:
PG: Luka Doncic - Josh Green - Jaden Hardy
SG: Kyrie Irving - Reggie Bullock - Frank Ntilikina
SF: Tim Hardaway Jr. - Markieff Morris
PF: Dwight Powell - Maxi Kleber
C: Christian Wood - JaVale McGee
The Mavs rank 9th in the NBA in Offensive Rating and 24th in Defensive Rating and on the surface, a deal acquiring Irving won’t help on the defensive end. Dallas plays at the 2nd-slowest pace in the league and given Irving’s ability to thrive in isolations within a halfcourt setting, I don’t expect that to change much either. Since both Doncic and Irving have made a living with the ball in their hands (and not playing off the ball), it will be fascinating to see what transpires. This isn’t a motion offense, so I suspect the two will alternate dribbling the ball up the court and creating. Once Christian Wood returns, there should be more than enough offense to compete, but the main question marks are on the defensive end of the court. Irving ranked 8th on the Nets in individual Defensive Rating, isn’t exactly an upgrade over Dinwiddie on that end of the floor and Irving has never been known to impact a team positively as a defender.
I do think that Irving’s presence should be enough to free up Reggie Bullock, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Maxi Kleber for some more long-range shooting opportunities, but I don’t see that having a transformative impact on the team as a whole. In the long term, I think this deal will definitely help Josh Green and Jaden Hardy, though. Both should learn behind Luka and Kyrie, especially from a ball-handling perspective. I expect Green to see a ton of playing time moving forward and for Hardy to earn more minutes down the stretch as well as a viable bench scorer.
Overall, in my opinion, this team is still on the outside looking in as far as NBA title contention is concerned. But, they are more dangerous than they were before the trade went down. At BetMGM, this fact is even more evident, as Dallas’ title odds were +2500 on Sunday morning and +1200 after the deal.
At this point, you kind of have to feel bad for the Nets, right? It feels like this is yet another chapter in their never-ending tragedy. Even though they entered Sunday at 32-20 and in 4th place in the Eastern Conference, Brooklyn was forced to comply with Irving’s latest antics due to the public nature of his trade demand. But, it will most likely be a net positive that he’s out of the locker room.
Caesars revealed that the trade shifted Brooklyn’s odds to win the NBA title from +1000 to +1800 on their platform, but I view that as an overreaction.
This will be Dinwiddie’s second stint in Brooklyn and he established himself as a legitimate NBA starter the first time around. Finney-Smith should also be a welcomed addition on the wing as a defense-first forward, especially when looking forward to potential playoff opponents.
When Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons return from their injuries, this is what Brooklyn’s starting five and rotation will look like:
PG: Ben Simmons - Cam Thomas - Patty Mills
SG: Spencer Dinwiddie - Seth Curry - Edmond Sumner
SF: Kevin Durant - Royce O’Neale - Joe Harris
PF: Dorian Finney-Smith - TJ Warren - Yuta Watanabe
C: Nic Claxton
In other words, this is going to be a great defensive team with tons of depth when healthy. More moves can be made before the trade deadline, but as it stands, there are a lot of different combinations that Jacque Vaughn can turn to. The Nets ranked 7th in the NBA in Offensive Rating and 13th in Defensive Rating before the trade, but I expect both of those metrics to improve. Dinwiddie is an efficient player, especially in the pick and roll, and has a proven ability to make those around him better. Finney-Smith’s addition should help out with defending guys like Jayson Tatum and Giannis Antetokounmpo at the top of the conference. Both are team-first guys, a clear deviation from the departed star.
Overall, this feels a lot like Nets GM Sean Marks is pushing all the chips to the table in front of Kevin Durant. This is now 100% his team and he has the supporting cast to show that he can be “that guy” down the stretch and through the playoffs. Nic Claxton has made massive strides in recent weeks and has emerged as a lob threat offensively while being a rim protector on the defensive end. Ben Simmons, when healthy, can be an elite defender, facilitator and can play all five positions. Seth Curry, Cam Thomas, Patty Mills, Joe Harris, TJ Warren and Yuta Watanabe can all impact the offensive end while Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale are elite perimeter defenders. There’s a lot to like about this roster and its depth.
My biggest critique of Irving’s style of play has always been that he doesn’t make others around him better. That was the case this season in Brooklyn. Irving got his and filled up the scoring column, but didn’t involve others as much as he could have and the offense was complacent around him, especially without KD healthy. Overall, the Big 3 era of the Nets (Durant, Irving, James Harden) ended with the trio playing eight regular season games together, one playoff series win and two of the three traded away at their request (a.k.a. an utter disaster).
This is the next chapter of what was (and will probably continue to be) a dysfunctional franchise. If you disagree, I think you can do a lot worse than the +1800 odds you can grab at Caesars right now.