Star guard Kyrie Irving scored 24 points in his first game with the Mavericks, a win over the Clippers, and seemed to fit seamlessly (though Luka Doncic did not play).
“That’s how talented he is. He makes things look easy,” coach Jason Kidd said, via Mark Medina of NBA.com. “He works on his craft. He’s a pro. He’s up for any challenge.”
Irving called the trade from the Nets to his Mavs debut “a long 96 hours,” and then dished on former teammate Kevin Durant being traded to the Suns in a late-night blockbuster.
“I’m just glad he got out of there,” Irving said, via Medina. “I’m just praying for his happiness and praying for his well-being. We’ve had a lot of conversations throughout the year of what our future was going to look like. There was still a level of uncertainty. But we just cared about seeing each other be at places where we can thrive.
“Whether that can be together or whether that can be apart, there has never been one moment where I felt like he’s been angry at me for the decisions I’ve made or I’ve been angry at him. We’ve just tried to understand each other a lot and grow as human beings and grow as brothers.”
- Irving’s new teammates said he was undoubtedly a welcome addition. “It just gives us that confidence,” guard/forward Tim Hardaway Jr. said. “It felt like he’s been here for a while.”
- Doncic has missed three straight games with a heel contusion — but may return when the Mavs play the Kings on Friday, Kidd said.
Guard Damian Lillard said he will do his part to try to help small forward Cam Reddish fit. Reddish was acquired from the Knicks in a trade for guard/forward Josh Hart.
“I’ve always liked Cam Reddish a lot,” Lillard said of Reddish, via Aaron Fentress of the Oregonian. “I watch a lot of games and when I’ve seen him, he’s a guy that can shoot the ball. I think he’s a legit 6-8. A good athlete. And I’ve seen him in some matchups against some good players where he can really defend when he’s focused on it. …
“He hasn’t found a home yet, but he’s one of those guys where you just always look like, man if he gets to the right place, could it just click?” Lillard said of Reddish, via Aaron Fentress of the Oregonian. “Could you see something come out of it? And I take a lot of pride in pouring into guys, especially in a situation like this. So, I like the opportunity for him and for us.”
Lillard added that Hart will be missed.
“It’s tough,” Lillard said, via Fentress. “I think for everybody who’s been here, the entire time that I’ve been here, one of the hardest parts is when you form a friendship or form a bond with somebody. Everybody’s looking at, what are they doing on the court? What can they do to get better? Everybody else is looking at it from a business standpoint and how to improve and all these things.”
- Lillard indicated he’s willing to be patient as the Blazers retool around him. “You have to trust the process and that we’re positioning ourselves to be able to do something that really helps us,” he said, via Fentress.
- Center Jusuf Nurkic could also be moved ahead of Thursday’s deadline, and he knows it. “I don’t see anything getting better that involves me,” Nurkic said, via Jason Quick of The Athletic. “But I’m not going to ask for a trade or anything like that. They know that and I feel like that’s how everybody — the coaches, front office — feels about me.”
- The Suns’ new-look starting lineup could feature Durant, point guard Chris Paul, shooting guard Devin Booker, forward Torrey Craig and center Deandre Ayton, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic.
- The departures of forwards Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson, sent to the Nets as part of the Durant deal, will leave an emotional void on the Suns, wrote Kellan Olson of Arizona Sports.
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