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    Kyrie Irving to Suns? All-Star guard will visit star-studded Phoenix in free agency, still favored on NBA odds to re-sign with Mavericks

    Could Kyrie Irving actually land in Phoenix?
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    ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier this week that the "full expectation" was that All-Star guard Kyrie Irving would re-sign with the Dallas Mavericks when NBA free agency officially begins Friday evening. Wojnarowski is rarely wrong and he may not be here, but reports have now emerged that Irving will take a free-agent visit to the already star-laden Phoenix Suns, which immediately blew up Twitter.

    Irving has shown in the past that he's not all about money. After all, he missed a large chunk of the 2021-22 season while with Brooklyn simply because he wouldn't get the COVID vaccine. Irving wasn't paid by the team for most of the games he missed that year. But is Irving really ready to turn down about $70 million more from Dallas?

    Because the Mavs traded for him last season, they own Irving's Bird Rights, which means Dallas could pay him as much as $272 million over five years, while Irving can only get about $202 million over four with other teams. There is a way around that: a sign-and-trade. The Mavs reportedly have long coveted Deandre Ayton, and the Suns have at least gauged the former No. 1 overall pick's market value previously. Ayton's cap number for trade purposes is around $31 million.

    This simply could be the eccentric Irving wanting to be wined and dined by other franchises before re-upping with Dallas. The Mavs went 7-18 after the Irving trade -- including a 5-11 mark when both he and Luka Doncic were in the lineup.

    A Suns team with Kevin Durant (who reportedly remains tight with Irving even though Kyrie ruined the Nets when both were there) Devin Booker, Bradley Beal and Irving would be truly unbelievable offensively, but good luck on defense -- and who rebounds without Ayton? If the Suns were to acquire Irving via a sign-and-trade, they would be hard-capped at $172 million.

    Irving has been trying to recruit LeBron James to Dallas, but that's obviously not happening. Maybe the Lakers can work something out to get Kyrie to L.A. The Clippers badly need a point guard and opened up some potential money today by releasing Eric Gordon, although they may be more likely to re-sign Russell Westbrook at a cheaper price than what Irving would cost.

    The 76ers may look toward Irving but only if James Harden leaves for Houston. If Harden stays in Philly, the Rockets might look to Irving themselves as a rare veteran on a very young team, although there are reports that Houston is close to a free-agent offer sheet for Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet. He'd be cheaper than Irving but also isn't as good. 

    Below is the SportsLine Projection Model of an Ayton-Irving trade. 

    Via SportsLine oddsmakers: Which team will Kyrie Irving be playing with on Opening Day of the 2023-2024 season?

    • Mavericks -500
    • Lakers +500
    • Suns +600
    • Clippers +700
    • Heat +800
    • Hawks +1000
    • Grizzlies +1200
    • 76ers +1500
    • Rockets +2000 
    PHOENIX     WINS    WIN%       PLAYOFF   CONF       CHAMP

    w/Ayton 44.153.80%59.00%2.62%0.87%

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