Just a few months after asking for a trade that broke up his partnership with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving seemingly has an interest in reuniting with his superstar friend. Irving and the Phoenix Suns are expected to meet at the start of the 2023 NBA free agency period, according to Bleacher Report’s Chris Haynes.

The Dallas Mavericks have been viewed as the heavy favorites to sign Kyrie Irving. As a free agent for the first time in four years, Irving plans to meet with teams in an attempt to find “a place where he can spend the rest of his career,” according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. Could the mercurial point guard actually become the fourth star on a Suns’ roster that already includes Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal?

Technically, it’s possible that the Suns will acquire Irving in free agency. Realistically? Any NBA fan who is reading this is almost as likely as Irving to be wearing a Phoenix uniform on the first day of the 2023-2024 season.

Let’s take a look at a few reasons why Irving won’t sign with the Suns and team up with Durant in 2023 free agency.

3. The Suns don’t have any salary-cap space

The Suns are way, way over the $136 million salary-cap threshold for the 2023-2024 campaign. That’s what happens when you have four players who are making north of $32 million, two of which own salaries of more than $46 million. The Suns have an active roster cap of $175 million, according to Spotrac. It puts the team $10 million over the luxury tax. Phoenix can only sign free agents to the $5 million taxpayer mid-level exception or to veteran minimum contracts.

The Suns’ free agency additions will be limited role players who were on the team last season (Cam Payne, Jordan Goodwin, Torrey Craig) and older veterans who are ring-chasing.

2. A sign-and-trade doesn’t make sense for the Suns or Mavs

Phoenix could acquire Irving through a sign-and-trade, but attempting to do so comes with its own set of obstacles. For starters, the Mavs would have to agree to such a deal. It would likely be a straight-up swap of Irving and DeAndre Ayton. Phoenix obviously isn’t trading Durant, Booker or Beal. The Suns can’t sweeten a deal with draft capital since they have already traded every pick imaginable. Completing a sign-and-trade would likely hard-cap Phoenix, limiting its ability to make any moves going forward.

In a vacuum, Irving is a better basketball player than Ayton. For the Suns’ roster, Ayton is the better fit. Phoenix’s backcourt is already set with Beal and Booker. Adding Irving and subtracting Ayton from the lineup would make the Suns much smaller and weaker defensively. If the Suns are going to trade Ayton, it’ll be for multiple rotation players that can fill out the roster, not another unreliable superstar

1. Kyrie Irving won’t walk away from long-term guaranteed money

Irving would have to take an ENORMOUS discount in order to play for the Suns. The Mavs can offer Irving a contract worth up to $272 million over five years. Even if Dallas won’t give Irving a max contract, going to Phoenix probably means leaving nine figures guaranteed on the table.

Irving’s actions dictate that his No. 1 goal in free agency is to make the most money possible. It’s no secret that Irving wanted to play for the Los Angeles Lakers last year. He could’ve made it happen by opting out of his contract and taking a $30 million pay cut in LA.

When the Brooklyn Nets called Irving’s bluff and didn’t trade him to the Lakers for Russell Westbrook and a future first-round pick, he picked up his player option for the 2022-2023 season. Irving asked for a trade in February, a request that the Nets ultimately obliged. Why did he ask out of Brooklyn this time? Because the Nets weren’t willing to give him a fully guaranteed max contract extension. Had Brooklyn been willing to pay Irving the most money possible, he would’ve stayed in New York and continued to pursue championships alongside Durant.

For better or worse (very likely for worse), the Mavs have decided that they are in the Kyrie Irving business. Dallas traded two valuable role players, an unprotected first-round draft pick and two second-rounders for Irving less than six months ago. The Mavs will undoubtedly make a competitive contract offer to Irving, keeping their fingers crossed that he stays on the court and gives Luka Doncic a legitimate running mate in pursuit of a championship.

Irving knows all of this. His flirtation with the Suns might simply be a ploy to squeeze every dollar that he can out of the Mavs.