“I definitely want to say better,” Doncic said after Wednesday morning’s practice. “He came in the middle of the season last year, and we didn’t have much time. We went right into games. It takes time to build chemistry, especially on the court, so we didn’t have a full training camp. “And then I mean the preseason. So I think it’s going to get better.”
Dallas traded for Irving in February with hopes that the eight-time All-Star guard would help elevate the Mavericks to Western Conference contender status. The results were far below expectations, as the Mavericks fell out of the playoff picture and finished 11th in the West.
Both Doncic and Irving missed significant time with injuries in the second half of the season, but the Mavericks struggled when they were both in the lineup. Dallas went 5-11 in games Doncic and Irving played together
The Mavericks consider re-signing Irving, who will speak to reporters after Thursday morning’s practice, to be their top offseason priority. He agreed to a three-year contract worth up to $126 million with a player option for the final season in the first hour of free agency.
“We like the things that are happening right now, but we’re going to continue to grow that relationship,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. “There’s a relationship, and so they had the summer and now they have a preseason to bond. But that’s the big question: Can they coexist? And it’s not that they don’t coexist; it’s the team around them. I think “ever Sometimes we are given wrong information. If you have the right parts, they’re going to coexist, and one day later, they coexisted at a higher level.”
Kidd noted that the Mavericks were “one of the best offenses in the league” with Doncic and Irving on the floor together. Dallas averaged 119.2 points per 100 possessions in 444 minutes played together, but the Mavericks’ terrible defense doomed their playoff aspirations.
“I don’t think scoring points is going to be a problem for us,” Kidd said. “It’s about getting stops and being consistent. That’s stuff we’ll discuss in the film room and on the floor.”
Mavericks general manager Nico Harrison has vowed to upgrade the supporting cast around Doncic and Irving, prioritizing adding intelligent, defensive-minded role players. Forward Grant Williams, acquired in a sign-and-trade deal with the Boston Celtics, comes to Dallas as the starter. Kidd said he would also give the Mavericks a pair of rookie first-round picks, Kendra Derek Lively 2 and forward Olivier-Maxens ProsperOpportunity to earn immediate starting role.
Doncic took ownership of Dallas’ defensive woes late last season and again Wednesday, insisting that the team’s stars must set the tone.
“The two leaders of the team, whatever we do, the two of us, other people will follow,” Doncic said. “We have to set an example, and that’s everybody. It’s not just us. We have to play. There are five players on the court. We’re going to play everybody, so everybody has to help each other.”