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#pounditSaturday, May 18, 2024

Could the Mavericks tank rest of season?

Kyrie Irving in his Mavericks uniform

Mar 5, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving (2) in action during the game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Phoenix Suns at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks will need some help if they want to sneak into the play-in tournament, but they may not be planning to put up much of a fight.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Monday that the Mavericks are “seriously considering” whether they should shut down star players Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving for the remainder of the season. Doncic has been playing through a thigh injury while Irving is managing plantar fasciitis.

Perhaps more importantly, the Mavs have a protected first-round pick that they would have to send to the New York Knicks if it falls outside of the top 10.

“I think the Mavericks have to seriously look at whether you shut Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic down for these last three games of the season. … I’m told that the organization is seriously considering the possibility of shutting down those guys,” Charania said on FanDuel TV. “They have a top-10 protected pick. Being out of the playoff race, it behooves them to try to keep their pick. At that point, you have the flexibility of having that potentially top-10 pick. You have three first-round picks that you can trade this offseason to go get a star and potentially more players.”

Doncic says it is not happening, at least for him. He told reporters on Tuesday that he will play in Wednesday night’s game against the Sacramento Kings.

The Mavericks entered Tuesday one game behind the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 10th spot in the Western Conference with three games remaining. Charania noted that OKC holds the tie-breaker over Dallas, which means the Mavs are essentially two games behind with three to play.

The odds are stacked against the Mavericks making the play-in tournament. And even if they do, Doncic and Irving might not be healthy enough to lead the team deep into the postseason.

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