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Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic used to seem like one happiest superstars in the NBA. Now he’s moping around in press conferences and on the court. What’s changed? Other than the Mavs trading for team-killing Kyrie Irving just over six weeks ago, not much.  

The Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving partnership with the Mavericks is not going well

Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, Dallas Mavericks
Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic | Tim Heitman/Getty Images

The Mavericks’ Kyrie Irving trade became official on February 6, and Irving played his first game for the Western Conference squad on February 8. Since then, he’s played 14 of 19 games for his new team, averaging 27.6 points, 6.1 assists, and 5.4 rebounds per game.

Despite the excellent numbers that are right on par with the point guard’s Brooklyn Nets averages, the Mavs are just 7-12 overall and 6-6 in games Irving has played in.

Luka Doncic and Irving have played 10 games together, and the team is 3-7 with the duo on the court together.

And while Irving hasn’t had any of his trademarked outbursts, controversies, or AWOL stints, there is no question Doncic hasn’t been himself recently.

In a melancholy press conference following the Mavs’ latest loss to the lowly Charlotte Hornets — which drew boos from the home crowd — Doncic admitted he’s incredibly frustrated and no longer feels like his happy, smiling self on the court.

Luka Donicic said it’s “not just basketball” that is upsetting him lately, but refused to discuss any other issues as he told reporters, “You know I don’t talk about my [personal] life.”

For his part, Kyrie Irving also discussed the team’s frustrating struggles but refused to put the blame on himself or Doncic.

“The reality is what it is. [Luka and I] are 3-7. But again, it is a team basketball game. As much as people want to put it on me and Luka, it is a team basketball game. We talk about that in the locker room. Everyone likes to point the finger at what we are doing, but it is a team game,” Irving explained in his presser after the same loss.

Dallas News reporter Callie Caplan also noted Doncic’s downcast demeanor during that Hornets game.

“Luka Doncic isn’t himself. Walked slowly to the bench at Q1 buzzer, didn’t reciprocate high fives, plopped down on a chair separate from the huddle,” Caplan tweeted. “Looks like a reaction any human might while going through difficult personal time in life, not just a 30-16 deficit to Hornets.”

Now, it may not be fair to put Doncic’s struggles, on and off the court, on Irving. However, it is quite a coincidence that the player who has submarined four three organizations in the last seven years comes to town, and six weeks later, the Mavs superstar falls apart.

Irving broke up his championship partnership with LeBron James because he wanted to be the No. 1 guy on his own team. He then shunned the Boston Celtics, leaving young stars Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum in the lurch, after publically declaring he would sign an extension and stay.

Finally, he chased James Harden out of Brooklyn after less than two full seasons with the Nets and bailed on Kevin Durant by demanding a trade at the 2023 NBA trade deadline.

It may not be right to blame Kyrie Irving for the downfall of the Mavericks, who are currently the No. 11 seed in the West, one spot out of the play-in tournament. That said, with Irving’s history of tearing down the organizations he plays for from the inside, it does make sense that this is most NBA watchers’ first assumption.


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