Kyrie Irving trades deal for Mavericks
For the third time in less than six years, Kyrie Irving is on the move. And bettors already have high expectations for its next step.
The embattled All-NBA guard was traded to the Mavericks on Sunday, just two days after asking the Nets for a trade and threatening to sit out the entire season before leaving for free agency.
In return, Brooklyn received guard Spencer Dinwiddie, forward Dorian Finney-Smith and three draft picks, including an unprotected 2029 first-round pick, according to multiple sources.
The move sent shockwaves through the league and ended a frenzied bidding war that saw the Mavericks rise to the top tier of title favorites – while at least two other teams saw their chances shares plummet after Sunday’s blockbuster trade.
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2023 NBA Championship Odds
|Golden State Warriors||+1000|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+1000|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+2200|
|Los Angeles Lakers||+5000|
Before Sunday’s stunning stunt, the Mavericks were 25/1 to win it all at BetMGM less than a year after their run to the Western Conference Finals. After the deal, Dallas’ price was reduced to 12/1, where it still finds itself Monday morning behind seven other teams in a tense NBA title race.
The Nets saw an equally dramatic shift in the other direction after trading Irving, who opted into his player option this summer with eyes on one last run with Kevin Durant and co. After its exodus, Brooklyn saw its price swell to 22/1 – a far cry from its 7/1 price just three days ago and even its 14/1 price in the hours leading up to the trade.
The other big loser on Sunday? The Lakers had seen their title odds drop from 40/1 last week to as little as 20/1 over the weekend amid rumors of a potential Irving coup. Instead, the Mavericks won the Western arms race for the controversial goaltender, and bettors reinstated Los Angeles as a 50/1 long shot following his failed trade offer.
Mavericks odds increase to 12/1
On paper, it’s easy to see why the market reacted so strongly to the Mavericks’ decision on Sunday amid the team’s years-long quest to pair Luka Doncic with a second star.
Even before the trade, Dallas led the league in isolation rate (13%) and fifth in points per possession iso (1.04) thanks in large part to Doncic’s magic with the basketball. That approach was key to the Mavericks’ deep playoff run last year and teases immense potential with Irving playing the role of Jalen Brunson in this year’s iteration.
Of course, this trade is not without its worries – on and off the pitch.
Irving was in and out of training during his four years in Brooklyn, missing 142 of a possible 298 games (47.7%), including the playoffs, and never made it past the second round. It came amid multiple controversies, including his refusal to get vaccinated in 2020 and his suspension earlier this season for tweeting a link to an anti-Semitic film.
There are also problems on the pitch, especially defensively. While Dallas’ iso-heavy offense was instrumental in holding its Western Conference Finals last year, so was its elite switching defense, which relied on the five defenders who carried their weight. It won’t be so easy with Doncic and Irving making up two-fifths of the starting rotation – especially with versatile defender Finney-Smith on his start.
Betting on the NBA?
Clearly, the Mavericks are betting on Irving and Doncic to power an offense so effectively that it masks all other shortcomings — similar to the Nets’ bet when they united Irving, Durant and James Harden in 2021. It didn’t work that so long before injuries and depth issues made Brooklyn one of the greatest storylines in NBA history.
Maybe this time will be different for Irving and for the team that is betting its future on his offensive genius. It’s a high price to pay – both for the Mavericks and for punters targeting them at such short odds – and it shouldn’t take long to find out if the bet is worth it.