This year the Dallas Mavericks impressed everyone with their performance both in the regular season and in the postseason against the Clippers, where they were winning one of the best teams in the league… But then the main problems of Dallas became easily seen (again). Here they are (in my opinion):

  1. The need for a second star player
  2. The current roster doesn’t allow good defence
  3. Luka Doncic is severely overloaded

We’ll look at each point in more detail, but for now, let’s discuss the team’s payroll and assets. 

So, here’s the Mavs’ payroll:

The Mavericks’ payroll

Here’s what you should bear in mind:

– Josh Richardson will surely opt for an 11.6 million player option since he failed the season and the playoffs. No one will offer him even a mid-level exception now, and since his worth is low, he will try to earn the maximum and do well in the contract year.

– Luka Doncic will be available for signing the supermax. The player has already given his answer (“You know the answer!”). I think it’s pretty self-explanatory since Dallas is perfect for Luka: the fans adore him, Carlisle was one of the best coaches and is now replaced by equally good Kidd, the owner of the club would do anything for the superstar’s wellbeing, Legendary Dirk already thinks of him as the GOAT of the club. Thus, in Dallas, Luka has everything to continue thriving. But we have some questions about the management. Especially about the man who gets involved with the draft picks of the club and the signings like Delon Wright’s one. I really hope that Dallas will not turn into the second Portland revolving around Dam.

– Do not underestimate the work of Dallas’ Scouting staff. The club always makes a good choice about drafts and finds the diamonds among those who went undrafted (for example, Dorian Finney-Smith or Ferrell in the past).

Isaiah Roby 45th pick (plays excellently for the Thunder)

Jalen Brunson – 33rd pick (the steal of the draft) 

Josh Green – 18th pick (a good and hardworking player with good potential. He fit in perfectly into the club and (unless traded) should become an essential part of the Mavs’ game).

Dallas has no 2021 picks since their first-round pick went to the Knicks and a second-round pick went to the Pelicans – but that’s not to say they will not try to get one. They have 2022 picks that could be traded well on the conditions that they will get the picks of the same year back.

Now, those who should stay on the team:

  1. Luka Doncic – no comments
  2. Dorian Finney-Smith – good balance between the quality of his game and how much he gets paid, plus he is the heart and soul of the team and the only guard with a good shooting skill.
  3. Jalen Brunson – Dallas won’t find a better sixth man for 1.8 million, but, unfortunately, I do think that he will be traded by the deadline as I don’t see a way to re-sign him. A lower-level club will probably come in with a 12-15 million cheque for him. 

The good assets:
Brunson, as mentioned earlier, Josh Green, Trey Burke (yes, I see him as an additional asset in a significant deal since he can show a decent game in a playoff-level team for 3.33 million), Maxi Kleber (the centre, pretty bad in the defence, but having him on the team certainly does not harm, he’s at the peak age and has a good salary under 8 million), Tyrell Terry.

The less good assets: 
Kristaps Porzingis, Dwight Powell, Willie Cauley-Stein, Josh Richardson.

We’ll go through them separately, but first, let’s talk about re-signing and free agency.

Tim Hardaway Jr. 

Tim should definitely get re-signed for a better salary, as he is the only starter shot creator, apart from Luka. He performed excellently during the season and the playoffs (yes, he failed in the 7th game, but it was the game in which everyone could’ve done better).

The stats: 16.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.4 steals, effective field goal percentage over 52%, a plus in the plus/minus box,  4.3 win share and usage 23%!

Playoff stats: 17 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.4 assists. 
I would re-sign him for three years, 45-52 million (with the player option in the final year). For 15-17 million, he would be an excellent player who can become a starter when necessary but will also come off the bench. It would also be a contract that is easy to trade.

The maximum agreement: 2-3 years with a salary of around 15 million, but not more. 

JJ Redick, Boban Marjanović and Nicolò Melli – veteran minimum salary, maximal pay around 2-2.5 million, contract for a year or two and a team option. But I have doubts about Redick.

So let’s move on to the trades that Dallas could make: 

1)Trading Porzingis.

Dallas-Boston:

Dallas trades: Kristaps Porzingis and Trey Burke = 32.5 million

Boston trades: Kemba Walker: = 34.4 million

What will Boston get out of it? Getting rid of Kemba, who simply didn’t fit in in the Celtics game due to the injuries, increased responsibility and instability. Also, that would be, changing the contract from one big and bad to equally bad but a simpler one. And they will also get Burke, who doesn’t cost much and can be traded again. Boston will also get a much-needed central player, even if it doesn’t quite have the level they need.

What would Dallas get out of this? Getting rid of Porzingis, who has failed the second playoff in a row and is whining to the media that he doesn’t feel like a co-star. This trade would give them a hardworking Walker, who, under the right leadership, may become the required second option for Luka. Kemba can take some load off Luka in the offence. But if Kemba performs in the 1 or 2 position with Luka, it will not go well, and that scares me the most, so I wouldn’t want to see this trade in real life.

The probability of this trade is above average.

Dallas-Indiana:

This might come as a surprise for you, but I would consider this option. Firstly, no one is going to transfer to Indiana this summer. Secondly, the Turner and Sabonis pair hasn’t worked out as expected, so they need to move on.

Dallas trades: Kristaps Porzingis, Josh Green/Tyrell Terry, and swap first-round draft pick of 2022 or 2023.

Indiana trades: Myles Turner, Jeremy Lamb, Edmond Sumner/JaKarr Sampson.

What would Dallas get out of this trade? Dallas would get a rim protector in their team and a stretch five (34 per cent from behind the arc with 4.5 attempts). Dallas would also get a bench scorer and a role player.
What would Indiana get out of this trade? Indiana would get one more option in the offence, and their starting lineup would look interesting: Brogdon-LeVert-Warren-Porzingis-Sabonis. Potentially they could also get Green and a guarantee of the better draft pick from the two of them as compensation for Porzi’s contract. Of course, there’s the question: why would the Pacers even let go of their big man dominating the paint in return for Porzingis?

My answer is this:
Things are bad in Indiana right now. They do not have a coach again, the team hasn’t made it into the playoffs, the players are either out with an injury or haven’t returned after a long recovery yet. I mean, I don’t know what Warren will be like after his injury. Lamb is not in the best condition as well at the moment. Sabonis gets moderately injured all the time. Indiana just doesn’t have the resources for making dramatic changes and making the team stronger. And although I like Indiana and its roster, I just don’t see it as a second-round team when there are Brooklyn, Bucks, Philadelphia, Boston. Hell, even Atlanta could defeat them. And getting Porzingis, who scores 20 points even after a serious injury, is a risky move because there isn’t a better FA on the market.
The probability of this trade is average.

Dallas-PTB

Dallas trades: Kristaps Porzingis, Josh Richardson and first-round draft picks.

PTB trades: CJ McCollum, Robert Covington.

What would Portland get out of this trade? The Blazers would let go of McCollum, who’s been incompatible with Dam for the past two or three years, but can revive in Dallas and start playing better. CJ won’t improve in PTB, he is getting old and fragile and also has a problematic contract. Portland would trade him for a younger Porzi, who can get along with Nurkić and acquire Richardson, who may improve his perimeter defence during the contract year. Additionally, he will have more room for the shots with Dam. They may also swap draft picks.

What will Dallas get? They will acquire a strong defensive player Roko and a second option in the person of CJ.  It does look like trading bad for worse. Besides, if Hardaway gets re-signed, he will be playing third, and that’s bad for the defence. But in any case, this isn’t the worst-case scenario, and the roster would look like this:
Starter lineup: Doncic, McCollum, Finney-Smith, Covington and another central player, unknown at the moment.

There’s another option for trading with PTB if the team from Oregon will decide to leave CJ in the team and end up with the big trio:
Dallas gets Covington and Powell.
The Blazers get Porzingis.

It looks more realistic, but it would be more or less the same.
There were also rumours about trading Porzingis into the Hornets, but I don’t get what can the Mavs get out of it, apart from Washington.
So, these trade ideas are interesting, but only in the case with Indi will Dallas acquire a big man. And what if they trade without him? Then they need to turn to the free agent market.

Candidates the Mavs may sign for the centre position:

Daniel Theis, Nerlens Noel, Cody Zeller and that’s it. Not much, especially considering the Hornets are likely to prolong Cody’s contract, and the Knicks will keep Noel (and Noel played for the Mavs before, and it did not end well). There’s also Theis, who is good but cannot give the Mavs what they need to become contenders. It would be interesting to see how he’d look on the court with Porzi, but I’m sure Porzi will be out of the team before the season starts. How much would Dallas be able to pay Theis? MLE? Or even less than that? The ideal option would be a two-year contract with a salary of around 5-8 million. But again, unlikely.

So there aren’t many options to find a new big man on the free agent market. What should they do? There are three options.

1) Hope that Powell will get back into shape over the summer and that Cauley-Stein will be playable.

2) Acquire a big man through trade (remember the option with Turner)

3) Acquire a big man by trading the remaining assets, that is, Burk, Green, Terry and Brunson (which is best avoided). But then the team has to let go of Powell or Cauley-Stein.

So let’s go through a few scenarios and their outcomes:

1) Dallas keeps Porzingis until the beginning of the season, re-signs Haraway with the salary of 15 million, Richardson chooses the option for 11 million, so what’s next?
Take the most out of the remaining assets: Brunson, Green, Kleber, Burke!
What is the maximum they will be able to get for them? Or rather, how much stronger will the player they are traded for be? Would he be good enough to get rid of four good players who fit in well in the Mavs?

Possible options:

Dallas-Portland (again):

Dallas gives away Jalen Brunson and Josh Richardson, the Blazers give away Anfernee Simons and Norman Powell. It’s a complicated situation since Powell would probably decline the 11 million dollars option, then it could be done through sign and trade. But how much will Powell ask? I can suggest that around 17-18 million a year for three years. Is he worth this much money? I’m not sure about that. Yes, he’s an excellent third option in the offence, but he’s less good in the defence. The question is if Dallas re-signs Hardaway and acquires Powell, will that make the team stronger? I think so, but then it would also mean that Dallas is really limited in the trade options, and only Powell and Kleber will have proper contracts. It’s an interesting option, so I’d think about it. Brunson is an unbelievably helpful and effective bench player, but is he good enough for the third option in the offence? I don’t think so. If Powell will leave PTB (I don’t think they will be able to keep him, considering their payroll), it’s better to get a bench upgrade and acquire Richardson. He may perform excellently during his contract year, just as he did in the past. The Mavs will also acquire an additional point guard in the person of Simons.

Would the top free agents be suitable for the Mavs?

Let me name them first:

Shooting Guards: DeMar DeRozan, Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Josh Hart, Gary Trent Jr., Kendrick Nunn 

Point Guards: Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Will Barton (player option), Reggie Bullock, Doug McDermott 

Point Guards: Mike Conley, Kyle Lowry, Dennis Schroder, Devonte’ Graham 

Power Forward: John Collins

Out of the ones who seem more or less realistic – Kyle Lowry, Victor Oladipo and a few central players I mentioned earlier.
But the trouble is, I don’t see Lawry or Oladipo solving the problems of the Mavs in any way. Yes, they need a playmaker to take some load off Doncic, but Lowry is old, actually old, and Oladipo is almost nothing after all the injuries.

This means that signing stars or elite role players to make the team stronger won’t work. Of course, it would be cool if Kawhi would turn down the option and move to the Mavs, but these are just dreams.

So, what do we have before the start of the season? 

  • Doncic, who needs extra support, as the decision about the supermax is at stake (yes, he’ll sign it, but still)
  • The question about re-signing Hardaway
  • A nightmare in the person of Porzi 
  • Doubts whether Brunson, Green and Terry should stay in the team 
  • The question about the green guys mentioned above 

How do I see the ideal roster for the next season?

  1. Trading Porzi, Brunson and Rich for Powell, Simons, RoKo and Little/Johns.
  2. Trading Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber, and Green/Terry for an excellent central player, such as Valanciunas, and adding a draft pick. Of course, Valanciunas is a good player, so I don’t think this offer would be interesting for Memphis. Or, as an option, Poeltl. But, a big man would be better.
  3. Targeter singing of the FA.

After them, we’d end up with a roster like this: Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway, Norman Powell, Dorian Finney-Smith, Jonas Valanciunas.
Or, a second variant: Doncic, Powell, Finney-Smith, Covington, Valanciunas.
Off the bench players: Robert Covington, Boban Marjanovic, Trey Burke, Willie Cauley-Stein, Tyler Bey (to sign).
Out of the free agents, Austin Rivers or T. J. McConnell could be good options for the point guard position.
For the Power Forward, there are a lot fewer options. Melli could be good, but I would try to get hold of Portis. Then there’s Stein and Boban for the centre position. 

Wings! We need the wings! Here are some of the more interesting ones that are available: Craig, McDermott, Harkless. 
Out of the Shooting guards, there are Bazemore, Burks, Snell.

But here’s one problem: Rivers and McConnell will almost 100 per cent be re-signed by their teams. Portis, I believe, will stay in the Bucks. Craig and McDermott will receive offers from their basketball clubs. Snell, Burks and Bazemore will probably also remain in their clubs. So talking about it looks like coffee fortune-telling. And what do you think?