Franchise-Altering Questions Arise as Dallas Mavericks’ Season Comes to an End

On Friday, the Dallas Mavericks made a decision to protect a valuable asset by sitting six key players, including Kyrie Irving and Luka Dončić for almost three full quarters. This decision was made because a top-10 draft pick is worth more than a long-shot try in the play-in tournament or a slim chance of making the playoffs. If winning championships is the ultimate goal, then protecting the draft pick is the number one priority, just like protecting an injured star player. The Mavericks lost 115-112 to Chicago on Friday and were officially eliminated from any postseason action.

Before the game, the team announced that Irving was one of five key players who would sit out against the Bulls, while Dončić was sidelined after one quarter and one possession in the second quarter on “I Feel Slovenia Night” at American Airlines Center. Coach Jason Kidd said it was an “organizational decision” to prioritize the future of the franchise rather than trying to make it to the play-in tournament.

Kidd outlined before Friday’s game how the desire of Dončić to play until there was no hope of the postseason had to change, and the Mavericks needed to do whatever they could to protect their first-round draft pick, which they will only keep if it is in the top 10. Missing the playoffs would help achieve that goal.

The Mavericks’ decision was not made just on Friday but had been rooted much earlier, going back to all the bad losses they had to teams they felt they should have beaten in November, December and January, and also in their eight losses in their last 10 games in the past three weeks.

On Friday, in addition to Irving, Tim Hardaway Jr. (left ankle), Maxi Kleber (right hamstring), Josh Green (rest) and Christian Wood (rest) were also sitting out. Luka’s availability was due to his desire to play, as well as the numerous Slovenians who were at the game.

The Dallas Mavericks had previously announced that Luka Doncic would continue to play as long as there was a chance for the team to make it to the playoffs. However, the franchise eventually declared that Doncic would sit out for the remainder of the season, along with Kyrie Irving and four other core players, who were all healthy.

Despite the elimination from play-in contention, Doncic played in the first quarter of the home game against the Chicago Bulls, scoring 11 points and engaging in friendly interactions with Nikola Vucevic. Nevertheless, he returned to the court at the start of the second quarter, executing a spin move and driving to the basket for a layup before committing an intentional foul and exiting the game. This action concluded his season unless the team alters its strategy in the future.

Dallas Mavericks Basketball - Mavericks News, Scores, Stats, Rumors & More | ESPN
Dallas Mavericks Basketball – Mavericks News, Scores, Stats, Rumors & More | ESPN

The Mavericks went into Friday’s game in 11th place in the Western Conference, with teams that finish seventh through 10th heading to the play-in tournament. Oklahoma City has one game left on Sunday against Memphis, but the game is now moot. The Mavericks have been disappointed with how the season has gone since acquiring Irving before the February trade deadline. They entered Friday’s game with a 9-16 record since Irving’s first game on Feb. 8 and feel like they had the talent to do damage in the playoffs if they could have made it there. They got hot at the right time last year and reached the Western Conference finals.