Boston Celtics reporter Jay King of The Athletic took a shot at Luka Doncic after NBA podcaster Brett Usher claimed that “you have to appreciate how much he hates to lose” despite how much the Slovenian complains on the court.
“Hates it so much he sat out the end of the regular season so his teammates could do it without him,” King wrote.
Doncic was sat out by Dallas Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd for the final four games of the 2022-23 season along with Kyrie Irving in one of the more stunning tanking efforts the league had ever seen considering the Mavs were a half-game out of an NBA Play-in spot at that point. Perhaps neither player nor the organization was confident in the team’s ability to triumph in a win-or-go-home situation during the NBA Play-in.
Former Boston Celtics headache sure to disappoint with mismatched Mavericks roster
While Mavericks owner Mark Cuban made it clear upon trading for Irving that the team had every plan to re-sign the mercurial point guard, it was still shocking to see Dallas commit $120 million over three years to a player who actively made the team worse than it was before the trade.
Now, Irving and Doncic will continue trying to make an awkward, overlapped skillset backcourt work in a Western Conference that just got more loaded with the arrivals of the superteam Phoenix Suns, Ime Udoka-coached Houston Rockets, and Victor Wembanyama-led San Antonio Spurs.
Whether it does or not will be a pressing question. Dallas didn’t tie itself to any albatross contract, poaching away Boston Celtics restricted free agent Grant Williams for $53 million as its other major offseason move besides Irving. Shrewd role-player additions like Richaun Holmes, Seth Curry, and Derrick Jones Jr. accompanied those higher-profile signings.
Perhaps Irving thrives with more time in Kidd’s offensive system and adapts to Doncic similarly to how he did LeBron James. The Houdini simply doubts it based on what we’ve seen since the Brooklyn Nets took the Irving headache off of Boston’s hands.