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The 2023 NBA Draft is now behind us, which now pulls into the focus the main event of every NBA offseason: free agency. There may not be a ton of major names on the market this summer, but that doesn't mean there won't be some surprises as every team around the league tries to improve for next season. One of the top names set to hit the market this summer is All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, who after being traded to the Dallas Mavericks in February from the Brooklyn Nets is looking to secure another long-term, lucrative deal. 

Irving may be searching for a max contract, but the market isn't exactly robust for the mercurial star due to years of controversial remarks and decisions both on and off the court. That aside, Irving is still one of the most talented offensive players in the NBA, and as we saw with Dallas' trade in February, there's always a team willing to take a risk on him. 

As we look ahead to free agency, here are three landing spots for Irving when free agency starts on June 30.

1. Dallas Mavericks

After trading for Irving at the February deadline, which involved sending out Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie a 2029 unprotected first-round pick and two second-round picks, Dallas' No. 1 priority this summer has to be re-signing the All-Star guard. Luckily for Dallas, there is not a long list of teams lining up to offer a potential four-year, $201.7 million max contract to Irving. The Mavericks are also able to offer a fifth year and a total of $272.9 million to Irving if the two sides agree to that number. 

However, there is significant risk that comes with offering a max contract to Irving, and the documented issues in Boston and Brooklyn are proof enough that Dallas should haggle a little bit before getting him to sign a deal. While Irving comes with a ton of baggage that has the potential to limit his availability, there's no denying he's an electric offensive presence, and he proved to be just that in the limited time he was with the Mavericks last season.

In the 20 games he played for Dallas following the trade, he averaged 27 points, six assists and five rebounds, while shooting 51% from the field and 39.2% from deep. The partnership with Doncic was short-lived due to injuries, but in the 16 games the duo played together Dallas had an offensive rating of 121.7, which would've ranked first in the entire league. The Mavericks also managed to go just 5-11 in those games, and infamously tanked the last two games of the regular season when they still had a small chance to make the play-in round.  

Irving delivered on being the instant offense we've come to expect from him, and he certainly takes some of the offensive pressure off Doncic. While it remains to be seen if Doncic and Irving can coexist successfully for an extended period of time, Dallas basically painted itself into a corner the moment it traded for him. Re-signing him this offseason is more of a necessity than anything else. They'll have to deal with the unpredictability that comes with Irving after that.

2. Los Angeles Lakers

It's been reported up and down that the Lakers plan on bringing their guys back and aren't interested in taking a swing at Irving. They've already extended qualifying offers to Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura, making them restricted free agents and allowing them to match any deal another team may offer. Jarred Vanderbilt also got his $4.7 million team offer picked up, ensuring he'll be on the team next season, unless he's included in a trade package for someone else. It's also been reported that the Lakers intend to re-sign D'Angelo Russell on the open market. However, despite all this, as long as LeBron James is on that team the Lakers will be connected to Irving. 

It was reported back in February that the Lakers did make a trade offer to the Nets for Irving, but Dallas' deal was more compelling. There's also the obvious playing history between James and Irving, which at its height won a championship together on the Cleveland Cavaliers back in 2016. LeBron has spoken publicly about wanting to play with Irving again, and throughout the postseason Irving was seen courtside at Lakers games. While there hasn't been any recent reporting suggesting that the Lakers intend to go down the Irving path again -- in fact the opposite has been out there -- that still doesn't mean it definitely won't happen. It would require some financial gymnastics for the Lakers to get Irving to L.A., but if both sides are eager to partner up it can get done. Especially if Irving took a pay cut instead of seeking a max contract.

From an on-court perspective, Irving would be an immediate upgrade to Russell, and there's already history to suggest that he'll be a perfect pair alongside LeBron. He already has experience sharing the ballhandling responsibilities with James, and Anthony Davis will benefit from the passes Irving feeds him. But given all the off-court baggage that Irving historically comes with, and the amount of money he's seeking, it makes sense why the Lakers wouldn't be jumping at the opportunity to sign him this summer. But as I said earlier, we've seen before that teams are willing to take a risk on him, and if the Lakers ultimately decide he's worth that risk, perhaps they revisit bringing him in. 

3. Houston Rockets

Call this a Plan B for the Rockets, because that's quite literally what it's being reported as. Houston has long been linked to James Harden, hoping to bring him back to H-Town this summer and sign him away from the Philadelphia 76ers. But the Sixers offer a better chance at winning right now for Harden, and if he ultimately re-signs with the Sixers, then the Rockets are reportedly planning on shifting focus to Irving this summer. It's an odd shift, given Houston already has two high-usage guards on the roster in Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr., so bringing Irving into the mix will almost certainly take the ball out of their hands. But Houston is one of the few teams around the league that has a significant amount of cap space, $60 million to be exact, and they have the type of money to offer Irving that max contract he was looking for when he was with Brooklyn. 

Irving landing with Houston may seem odd, but it has been reported that he plans on taking meetings with multiple teams when free agency opens, and Houston could be one of them if they miss out on Harden. It could be a leverage move from Irving and his camp to try and get the Mavericks to up their offer. But given the short list of teams genuinely interested in him at the price point he's seeking, it may not land well with Dallas. Also, of the two Texas teams the Mavericks obviously offer the better path to winning right now with Doncic on the roster, so if that was the most important aspect to Irving, then Dallas checks off that box. Still, if the Mavericks are trying to haggle on number of years and money on Irving's new deal, he could become agitated with the situation and look elsewhere for a new team.

Though most signs are pointing toward Irving re-signing in Dallas, there's always room for the unexpected and the Lakers and Rockets offer just that. We'll have to see when free agency starts on June 30 where Irving ultimately decides to go, but from the sounds of it he's trying to make the Mavericks sweat just a little bit.