Jason Kidd is extremely optimistic about the Dallas Mavericks’ playoff chances after acquiring mercurial superstar Kyrie Irving from the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday.
In the biggest trade of the season so far, the Mavericks sent Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith, a first-round pick and two second-round picks to the Nets for Irving and safety forward Markieff Morris.
The move means the Mavericks are the only team with two players named starters in this year’s All-Star Game, with Irving receiving his eighth pick overall after posting averages of 27.1 points, 5.3 assists and 5.1 rebounds while playing in 40 of the first in Brooklyn. 51 games.
Dallas made an amazing run to the Western Conference Finals last season with Jalen Brunson as Luka Doncic’s number two, and Kidd had no qualms about calling Brunson’s trade to Irving an upgrade.
“When you look at Ky, nothing against [Brunson], but Ky is on a different level,” he said. “This gives us another weapon. Someone is going to be free. Someone’s going to have the advantage.”
Doncic’s 37.6 percent usage rate is the second-highest in the league behind Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (37.8 percent), and Kidd said the addition of Irving should help bring that number down to a more sustainable level.
“When you look [Doncic’s] usage, it’s at 99.9, so it’s got to go down,” he joked. ‘It’s going to go down, and that’s a healthy thing. It’s not a bad thing.
“It will be stronger in the fourth [quarter], the team will be better. Then the confidence between the two – it’s going to take some time to get that rhythm and confidence, but Ky is all about winning.
“We’re still going to preach defense, being able to stop, but there are going to be nights where we’re going to try to make you uncomfortable on the offensive end with a score of 130 or 140.
“Some nights, you’ll have to use offense as defense, but Ky will compete on the defensive end. Luka will compete on the defensive end.
“But when you look at the offensive end, can we put pressure on the opponent and will they feel comfortable to be able to score so many points?”
Kidd referenced Irving’s record as champion with the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, where Irving hit the game-winning three-pointer over Stephen Curry in their Game 7 win on the road.
“You look at his journey at other stops, he’s won where he’s gone,” he said. “We felt that the talent and their abilities to make us better is something that we needed.
“We feel like getting it will help put us in position to win a championship.”
Irving’s former Nets teammate Theo Pinson will be a familiar face in Dallas, and he said he’s excited to see how teams choose to protect the dynamic duo.
“Choose your poison,” he said. “It’s one of those things where I don’t know what you do, personally, I really don’t.
“You can get Luka all you want now. We’ll pass him on to another assassin. It’s going to be fun to watch.”