Dallas Mavericks tragedy.

Tragedy: dramatic work and performance that is characterized by an unfolding and especially a conclusion marked by mournful and violent events, severe misfortune and suffering.

The season of the Dallas Mavericks seems written specifically to put on a play worthy of the best classical tragedies.


During the 2022 Playoffs, the Mavericks had collected more than a team with an average roster could aspire to. Jalen Brunson’s farewell during free agency, however, had further impoverished a franchise once again unable to decide which path to take. On the roster, however, there is Luka Doncic, one of the most exciting players in the NBA. The impression is that we have never seen such talent coming from overseas, and the 2022 Playoffs certified this perception in America as well.

In a Western Conference never so balanced and short in the standings, Dallas boasted a record above 50 percent at the break for this year’s All Star Game.. The Feb. 6 victory (124-111) against the Jazz had also solidified a positive record of 29 won and 26 lost.

Management, however, was aware of the wear-and-tear danger for Doncic in facing “alone” an 82-game season at such a high rate (career high in minutes played and Usage Percentage). In a modest market like Dallas, where players are not vying to move there, it is not easy to make running adjustments. It takes planning, and the current staff has certainly not excelled in this regard, changing their minds several times about which elements to put around their superstar.

The opportunity presents itself “overnight.” Taking a look at the emotional resume of a player like Kyrie Irving, it is safe to imagine that someone has timidly raised his hand to ask “But are we sure?”. In Dallas, however, they think about it half a day: it is an opportunity to show Doncic that the franchise’s intentions are serious. This is a situation in which franchises too often find themselves forced to go the extra mile, not for results, but to reassure their stars, figures around whom entire teams now revolve. Moreover, Irving’s contract is expiring. How bad could things get?

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After the break for the All Star Game. the Mavericks were to face one of the “easiest” schedules in the league: 13 of the remaining 22 games would be played against teams with a record – at that time – of less than 50% wins (three times San Antonio and twice Charlotte), playing 7 of the first 9 games at home (eventually record of 3 won and 6 lost).

Irving’s first game in a Dallas jersey is against the Clippers, Feb. 8: Doncic is out with an ankle problem, but the Mavs win 110-104. Eight wins and 16 losses follow from here on. The combination of disappointment, frustration and disbelief is a lot: the team is not working, not just on defense. The management of the endgame leaves those who watch Dallas’ contests baffled..

A third character then takes over the story: Jason Kidd. In his short career as head coach, Kidd has proven to be frequently inadequate. His greatest and only merit was that he helped a very young Giannis Antetokounmpo take his first steps in the NBA. You don’t read Kidd’s name when talking about the best coaches around. Since the beginning of the season the Mavericks have struggled to field a vaguely effective defense, and with Irving’s arrival the staff accepted that they could not improve this aspect of the game, yet in the face of tremendous offensive talent at their disposal. With the former Nets and Doncic on the court at the same time it was impossible not to enjoy the initiatives and space that would be created in the offensive half of the court. Instead, the offense was slow, stagnant, not very fluid and totally dependent on the initiatives of the pair. The “core” of the team was never involved in the game. The numbers grew, but the quality of play and poor offensive efficiency did not compensate for a defense that was treading water on all fronts.


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The Doncic-Irving pair’s final record over 16 games together is 5 wins and 11 losses (with a very heavy double KO in 3 days against Charlotte). The Dallas Mavericks after their Feb. 10 win over the Kings had a 96% chance of making the playoffs. Two months later, before the game against the Kings, the chances were just 6.6%. It would be reductive and simplistic to dwell on the faults of Irving alone. The former Nets player scored an average of 27 points in 19 games on 50 percent shooting. Looking also at the advanced statistics, Irving has maintained almost the same figures he had in Brooklyn, especially in On/Off on 100 possessions and Usage Percentage. On the other hand, one cannot pretend that something has not changed since he arrived in Dallas. Doncic has expressed a shared malaise in recent months, and the Slovenian talent’s latest statements have certainly resonated in the corridors of the American Airlines Center.

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With the season closed well in advance, work began immediately in Dallas ahead of a busy off-season. Nearly $70 million will, in fact, be freed up on the salary cap: expiring contracts include those of Christian Wood, Dwight Powell, Markieff Morris and, of course, Kyrie Irving. Will the Mavericks be able to revive the franchise’s ambitions after this disappointment?

The doubts mainly concern a management that since Doncic’s arrival has not yet decided how to build a competitive roster around its star. Above all, the courage to spend has been lacking. First with the waiver of Porzingis, then with the departure of Brunson. The decision to target Irving proved unsuccessful, but it was a first attempt to find a solution. The future of the franchise has not been compromised, however, there is a lack of clarity and firmness in the leadership that wants to take this team. Perhaps the only real risk taken is that of running out of bonuses against Doncic.

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