Kyrie Irving does not plan to answer any questions about his long-term future with the Mavericks, saying the “very draining” subject provides “unwanted distractions” for his teammates before his first home game in Dallas on Monday.
Irving was traded to the Mavericks on Feb. 6 following a rocky tenure with the Brooklyn Nets which included a suspension from the NBA earlier this season after he initially refused to apologize for sharing a link to a film that contained antisemitic language on his Twitter account. He also missed a large swath of the 2020-21 NBA season due to his refusal to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.
[After years of Kyrie Irving tumult, Nets reach surprisingly quick, positive outcome]
Irving will be a free agent after the 2022-23 NBA season and reportedly wanted to be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, where he would be reunited with former Cavaliers teammate LeBron James. Irving and James famously won an NBA championship together with Cleveland in 2016 after Irving made the most pivotal shot of his career, a go-ahead 3-pointer in Game 7 to lift the Cavaliers over the 73-win Golden State Warriors.
However, Irving’s relationship with James eventually diminished to the point where he requested and received a trade to the Boston Celtics, where he spent two years before falling out with the team and eventually signing with Brooklyn in free agency in the summer of 2019.
Irving and James have since reconciled, and Irving also considered former Lakers star Kobe Bryant a close friend and mentor before Bryant’s death in Jan. 2020. But the Lakers’ own moves in recent weeks — making several trades for younger players whose contracts make it more difficult to sign Irving under the NBA’s salary cap — seem to point to a lack of interest in reuniting Irving with the man who just became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.
The Nets were widely expected to contend for an NBA title after signing Irving and Kevin Durant in 2019 and trading for James Harden in early 2021, but narrowly lost to the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks in the 2021 NBA playoffs. The team then dealt with several off-court issues as well as injuries to all three stars and dealt Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers in Feb. 2022.
[James Harden not surprised Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving fled Nets’ ‘dysfunction’]
The Nets traded Durant to the Phoenix Suns one day after dealing Irving, completing the dismantling of their superstar core. The 30-year-old Irving is still considered one of the most skilled players of his generation and is averaging 27 points, five rebounds and five assists per game in 43 games this season.
Top stories from FOX Sports:
Get more from National Basketball Association Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more