Report: Kyrie Irving worked hard to gain trust of Luka Doncic, who found it difficult to give up control of offense last season

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The pairing of Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic didn’t work out all that great for the Dallas Mavericks last season, but with Irving re-signing to stay after Doncic apparently pushed for it, perhaps better days are ahead.

“According to multiple Heavy Sports sources, Irving worked hard to gain the trust and faith of his new teammates, but Doncic found it difficult to cede command of the offense,” wrote Steve Bulpett of “Word that Doncic pushed for Irving’s return may indicate he’s coming around on the need to find harmony and the opportunity for each to enhance the other.”

Irving was traded to the Mavericks by the Brooklyn Nets in February as part of a deal where Dallas sent away Spencer Dinwiddie, Dorian Finney-Smith and some draft picks. The Mavs were 29-26 before his team debut and won their first two games with Irving on board.

After that, though, things went downhill fast. The Mavericks won just three of their next 12 games to drop below .500 and then lost nine of their last 11, seemingly prioritizing draft positioning near the end of the season. The tanking was so blatant that the organization was fined $750,000 by the NBA.

Injuries to both Irving and Doncic played a role in the disappointing results, but Dallas also was just 5-11 in the 16 games they played together.

This offseason, Irving reportedly took meetings with other teams, but he eventually settled on a three-year, $126 million contract to stay with the Mavs, a development which one radio host said “spells the end to Luka Doncic’s time in Dallas.”

But the Mavs are presumably banking on a full training camp with their stars together — and the influence of coach Jason Kidd — to help the Irving-Doncic pairing become what many hope it can be. Dallas this offseason has added Seth Curry (a former teammate of Irving with the Brooklyn Nets), Dante Exum and re-signed Dwight Powell in an effort to get back into contention in the Western Conference.

Doncic, who is just 24 years old, averaged a career-high 32.4 points per game last season and is considered one of the league’s brightest young stars. In five NBA seasons, he has averaged 27.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 8.0 assists per game.

After being Dallas’ dominant offensive option for years, he will have to adjust when learning how to play with Irving, an offensive superstar in his own right. With both of them now under contract with Dallas for multiple seasons, they should have plenty of time to figure it out.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has focused on New York sports. He has covered the NBA and NFL for almost three decades and is still waiting for the next championship for the Knicks and Jets.