Mavericks Kyrie Irving ‘happy to come back’ after free agency

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DALLAS — Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving The eight-time All-Star described himself as “happy to be back here” after re-signing with Dallas in free agency after exploring his limited options elsewhere in the league.

Irving and the Mavs agreed to a three-year deal worth up to $126 million at the start of free agency, a deal negotiated by his agent and stepmother, Shetelia Riley Irving. Because Irving has bird rights after trading for him last season, the Mavs can offer Irving significantly more money than other potential suitors interested in him, such as the Phoenix Suns, who were restricted to the veteran’s minimum contract in free agency.

“It wasn’t a very difficult process,” Irving said after practice Thursday, the first time he spoke to the media since the final week of last season. “Dallas was number one on my list. Obviously I looked at other places — salary cap opportunities, where I could match up with other guys around the league — but there wasn’t a lot of room. And now that I’m 31, I had a different advantage. to get, and I felt that I could not settle here but would be glad to return here and be welcomed with warm embraces.

“So I took everything into consideration. I took my time a few days before free agency to be with my family, to gauge how they felt about me being in Dallas. And everybody was excited. I mean, even when I got traded here, the middle During the season, a lot of my family was excited and they were just waiting for me to get my peace of mind on and off the court. I had already dealt with enough the past season or two, so they knew I just wanted a lot off my back and off my shoulders. Like I have to be Superman or I have to be perfect. I just wanted to be myself. And then the last few years have been going, just finding myself. So I think this is the best place to do that and to mature and grow as a person. to continue.”

Irving’s contract includes a player option for a final season. It also includes a total of $6 in incentives — $1 million annually for playing at least 65 million games and another $1 million if the team gets at least 50 wins and Irving plays a minimum of 58 games. The incentives are officially classified as unlikely because Irving didn’t earn them last season, when he played a total of 60 games for the Brooklyn Nets and Mavs and Dallas and finished with a 38-44 record.

“I wanted everything that was structured in my contract incentive-wise to be based on production and that was wins and how many games I was playing,” said Irving, who last played more than 65 games for the Boston Celtics in 2018-19. “I could hear all the noise. So I just wanted to make sure I had some friendly conditions, but also some realistic expectations for myself going into the season, to play as many games as possible.”

Dallas made a blockbuster trade to acquire Irving in February — sending away starters Spencer Dinwiddie And Dorian Finney-Smith and an unprotected 2029 first-round pick in Brooklyn — with hopes that will pair a co-star Luka Doncic Could elevate the Mavs to contender status. However, the Mavs faded in the final two months of the season and missed the playoffs. Irving (foot) and Doncic (thigh) both dealt with injuries, but Dallas struggled with them in the lineup together, going 5-11 in those games.

“I think we were very passive with each other,” Irving said. “We’re both killers on the court, everybody knows that. We want to win. So we just have to keep that consistent mentality and lead the team as best we can with other guys that have experience in this league.” Friends that we need to do more coaching. So it’s all a learning experience. Last year it was so fast and now wins, big wins, and ‘it’s Luka and Kyrie, why can’t you ‘boys win games?’ So we were answering a lot of questions that honestly I don’t think we were prepared for.

“And health is everything in this league. So we’re going through last season not being 100 percent and trying to do the best we can mentally, emotionally and physically, I want to give ourselves some grace and some credit.”

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