The Mavericks season has been long gone for over a month now. The playoffs are in full swing which means the draft and free agency is right around the corner. With the draft lottery taking place on Tuesday and free agent speculation always running amok on NBA Twitter, the DSF staff put together some Mavs offseason related questions based on who Dallas should resign, who they should target in free agency, and what to do with that top-5 protected pick if they do indeed keep it. Enjoy.
1. Looking at the Mavericks current free agents, which players do you hope or see the Mavs resigning?
Clark: To begin, I think we all expect Powell to pick up his option. Beyond him, I hope and completely expect the Mavs to also bring back Dorian Finney-Smith and Maxi Kleber. Both guys are unique role players who have a lot to bring to the table coming off the bench while both becoming two of Dallas’ best defenders. I’d also love to bring back J.J. and Devin Harris, but if we only get one, give me Barea.
Duell: I would expect the Mavericks to bring back J.J. Barea, Maxi Kleber and Dorian Finney-Smith. Even though it’s very possible Barea won’t be ready to start the season, the relationship between he and the Mavs is the type that isn’t going to end on an injury. Dallas values the contributions and hard-work from head-strong guys like Kleber and Finney-Smith and will reward them with contracts that are fair to the players and the team.
Kirby: Although he’s got a player option for next year, I expect Dwight Powell will get an extension this summer. Powell, like Kleber, feels more like a solid role player than the heavy minutes contributor he was asked to be post All-Star break. When playing together, they make a solid pair. I would also consider the signing of Dorian Finney-Smith to be a high priority, and I think Trey Burke could provide solid support off the bench if he’s willing to come back.
Konkle: I’m going to settle on Maxi Kleber strictly on the value of what he provides defensively. High level rim protection is really hard to find, and doubly hard when you consider how effective Maxi is switching off on smaller guards. His skills in today’s pace and space game are vital, and that’s without mention of his developing three point stroke.
It would be a huge disappointment for him to not be here next year.
Mulford: For the most part, I’d expect the Mavericks to be interested in bringing back most of their free agents, KP being the headliner, of course. Dwight Powell will almost surely opt-in to his deal and I’d be shocked to see J.J. Barea not back in a Maverick uniform, whether that be on time for training camp or not. Maxi and Doe-Doe are definitely guys I’d love to see back next year and think the organization feels the same way. No way they let two Wurzburg natives leave in the same offseason, right?
Turner: Kristaps Porzingis is the most obvious since he is a restricted free agent, but let’s be honest, I think that we all know that KP will be on the Mavs next season and beyond. But as for some of the other guys, I hope the Mavs resign J.J. Barea for leadership purposes. Jalen Brunson was such a bright spot in his rookie season but Barea is the only Mav left from the 2011 championship. Salah Mejri is a good friend of Luka Doncic and is well liked by everybody in the locker room. I am confident he will be back next season. We all expect Dwight to opt-in to his deal and obviously hope to resign his running mate in Maxi Kleber. No disrespect to Dorian Finney-Smith, Trey Burke, or Devin Harris, but I think the Mavs ought to go in a different direction regarding those spots on their roster.
2. A lot of speculation has big name free agents like Kemba Walker, Khris Middleton, or Nikola Vucevic as potential targets for the Mavs. What are your thoughts on adding either of these All-Star’s?
Clark: Speculation is the correct word here, and let’s keep it at that. I feel like I’m one of the few guys that is not for a Kemba deal. I like efficiency on both ends of the floor. Don’t get me wrong, adding Kemba to this offense would be fun, but defense wins championships. I want a solidified “3&D” player like Middleton or Klay Thompson, but everyone across the league expects them to resign. This one-two punch we have in Luka and KP can be real special. I would hate for another ball-heavy star to come in here and screw that up. We need a bunch of wingers who can shoot the rock and defend the bad guy’s best player. If that means signing two or three tier three free agents, then I’m all for that over one top tier guy in Kemba Walker. I’ll pass on Vucevic, in my opinion, we need a rim-protector.
Duell: I actually wrote about my feelings on this for the site this week, and for the money it’s probably going to take, I just don’t know if I can get behind that. Each of these guys are second-or-third bananas on contending teams but will have to be paid like number one guys just because of the time we’re in this league. I don’t think it’s the right move for Dallas to make considering they already owe one massive deal to Kristaps Porzingis after giving up multiple first round picks to get him.
Kirby: Kemba Walker feels the most attainable to me but his fit may not be perfect alongside Luka. On the plus side, he’s a great scorer who has never had the kind of support around him the Mavs can provide. And with Luka being more of a “score in bunches” player at this part of his career, Kemba could provide an even-flow offensively if he were to sign here.
As for Middleton, he’s the perfect 3 and D player to add alongside Luka and Porzingis. The problem is that his Milwaukee Bucks are now headed to the Eastern Conference Finals and the Bucks can go over the cap to pay him the maximum contract he’s eligible for. That alone makes it unlikely someone steals him away but if he were to do so, Dallas should absolutely be aggressive in their pursuit.
Nikola Vucevic is a solid 20-10 big man and an All-Star in the Eastern Conference. He’s also limited athletically, not a great defender and lacks foot speed, all of which makes his pairing alongside Porzingis a bit less than ideal.
Konkle: If you have been following my social media accounts for any extended period of time, you’d know which of these three I am prioritizing and why. Kemba Walker should be the guy. It’s 2019, the notion of one guy doing all the creating and playmaking should be long removed as an idea in fan’s heads. You NEED multiple guys to have a championship caliber offense, and that’s just what Kemba Walker could provide next to Luka.
That pairing is only enhanced by their contrast in styles. Luka, the methodical playmaking savant, playing off of and with Kemba, the dynamic scoring guard, makes a lot of sense despite some of the defensive questions it might leave. Middleton is also an excellent fit, he’s just tougher to obtain. Vuc is a terrific player and would make an excellent front court mate with KP, but I value him less than the other two. Kemba should be atop the non-pipe dream Mavs big board.
Mulford: I’m torn on this. I fully expect Middleton to re-up with Milwaukee and I’m not a huge fan of adding Vucevic to a big deal. But with Kemba, I see both sides. A dynamic, scoring guard like him adds a third punch to this offense alongside Luka and KP. I wouldn’t say I’m concerned with Kemba’s fit with Luka but it raises some questions. At the end of the day, I’d welcome Kemba to this team with open arms. He is an All-Star caliber player but I’m also content with spending our money elsewhere and waiting for truly the right fit next to Luka and KP, but with as many strikeouts as Dallas has had with top-tier free agents, nothing is promised.
Turner: This has been the question that is the easiest question to answer but also the hardest. I don’t think that anybody will be mad if the Mavs sign any of these guys. You can make an argument for each of them. Out of those three guys, I think you should first go after Kemba since he is the biggest name. Some fans do not like best player available because he may not fit with the scheme. I like best player available because even though you might take a risk, if the risk works, then the reward is high.
3. Beyond the bigger names, what other free agents do you see as potential fits next to Luka and KP?
Clark: Because I’m on the “tier three bandwagon”, I have a few that I would love adding to this team. A pool of these include, Patrick Beverley, Danny Green, Al-Farouq Aminu, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Brook Lopez. I think any three of these guys are affordable and could fit the Mavs system very well. Now, which of those three depends on what the Mavs do with J.J. and Harris. There’s a lot of “ifs” here, but if they don’t bring back either and miss on Kemba, then they go after Beverley and Green. Regardless of if they bring back Maxi or not, they need to go get one of Lopez, WCS or Aminu. Not only are these guy’s great rebounders to compliment KP in the front court, but they are also above-average defenders. Again, it’s all fun speculation anyway, right?
Duell: I do like the ever-popular idea of Patrick Beverley as a defensive-minded, gritty guy to pair with Luka. He certainly would be a fun addition to the locker room. But would he have to square things away with Don Knobler first?
Kirby: A smart “thrift store” investment in free agency would be Patrick Beverley. He’s a tough-nosed defender and an effective point guard who can play off-the-ball and shot 39% from 3 this past season. Add to that a very reasonable price tag and it’s almost too good of an addition to pass up in the event that the first tier options don’t pan out. I would also love adding a 3 and D specialist like Danny Green from Toronto if they don’t resign him.
Konkle: I think adding defense/shooting/rebounding next to those two is a great plan as well. If they whiff on some of the bigger names, I could see them looking into guys like Pat Beverley, Danny Green, Ed Davis, Reggie Bullock, etc. Point is, there is a long list of guys who make sense for Dallas on some level. If they can defend, shoot at a high level, or rebound, they should be on the Mavs radar.
Mulford: I’m all aboard the Patrick Beverley train. He would add so much to this team when it comes to defense and tough mindedness. I think he’d push Luka immensely in practice. But even more so then Pat Bev is Malcolm Brogdon for me. He would fit so well next to Luka in the backcourt as another playmaker who can knock down open shots and most of all, defend. Now, he’s restricted but the Bucks have to resign Khris Middleton and make decisions on Brook Lopez and Nikola Mirotic. Other than those two, Danny Green would also be a prime 3&D fit for the Mavericks and if something unexpected happens with Powell or Kleber, Ed Davis would be a great fit next to KP.
Turner: I hate speculation because my personal speculation is that the Mavs need to give everything they have to go after Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, or Klay Thompson. Now, I’m not naive, I’ve heard the rumors, and it looks like the chances of that actually happening are slim to none but with Luka and KP on your roster, you have to shoot your shot, right? As I mentioned earlier, having a center is extremely important. If Vucevic does not work out, I think the Mavs need to take a look at Demarcus Cousins. I get that many fear the injury history or that Boogie may clash with Rick Carlisle but for the right price, and the roster cornerstones that the Mavs have, you got to at least give it a shot.
4. Finally, as we wait to find out the fate of the Mavs pick in the Draft lottery on Tuesday, if the Mavs land in the top 5, what’s your preference: keep the pick or look to trade the pick for a proven third piece alongside Luka and KP?
Clark: It depends where we land in the top 5. If we get number one, you bet your buck we’re keeping that pick. From 2-5, I’m trading the pick if I’m Donnie. I’m not interested in Ja Morant, because if I was I would’ve just kept DSJ and RJ Barrett’s ceiling is DeMar DeRozan. Yeah, I’ll pass. Apart from this three-person draft, I would have zero interest in any other guys. Other teams may have much more interest in these guys to fit their needs in their respective system. Trading a top-five pick has a lot of value that could reel-in a guy like Jaylen Brown, Mike Conley, or Bradley Beal and in that order, realistically. Jaylen Brown could be a straight swap as the C’s could use that pick to help sway a trade for Anthony Davis. Mike Conley has the insane contract that the Grizzlies have been looking to trade for a season now, and Beal would just be really fun. Of course, it would take more than a pick to get those two guys, but it’s doable.
Duell: If they land in the 3-5 range and their research finds that a borderline All-Star type player would be available for that pick and more, I’d go for it. If not, I’d keep the pick and try to find some legit rebounding to help Porzingis. If some guys really start to help their stock rise between now and the draft, I’d even consider trading back out of the lottery so you can still get some cheap help on the second unit for this season, but possibly get back a first round pick in the 2020 draft as well.
Kirby: To me, unless your pick is in the top 3, you look to trade it. Obviously if the 6% chance works out and you get the number one pick, you take Zion. If you land around 2 or 3, you consider someone Ja Morant or Jarrett Culver. RJ Barrett will be another name people call out but I don’t think his fit with Dallas is as solid or as big of a need.
Konkle: I think all options should be on the table for Dallas, unless it’s the #1 pick that they own. That one is easy, take Zion. But outside of that, I think either choice is a viable option. Whether they hold on to it and draft Culver, Garland, or even R.J. Barrett, who I’m not a huge fan of, I’d be happy with that.
But I’d also get on the phone and probe around the league and see if anyone is interest in giving up a high level, proven starting caliber guy to come get the youngster they like. For example, the Pelicans and Jrue Holiday would be a great place to start. Now I have no knowledge of whether or not the Pels would do that, but it just gives you an idea of what kind of thinking the Mavs should be operating with.
Mulford: Zion aside, I wouldn’t be against trading the pick. I like the potential of Jarrett Culver and DeAndre Hunter a lot but Bradley Beal is the target here. If he makes one of the All-NBA teams, he becomes super-max eligible and as much as the Wizards may love Beal, it’s hard to imagine them committing another super-max alongside what looks to be an abominable contract in John Wall. As Reese said, Jrue Holiday would also be a great option and fit on this team going forward.
Turner: MFFL’s would love for the Mavs to somehow get the number one pick and end up with Zion Williamson so the Mavs can have three cornerstone pieces under the age of 25. Chances of that happening? About 6%. Even if the Mavs get a top 5 pick, Zion Williamson will likely be off the board. If Williamson and Barrett are not available to the Mavs, I think you look to trade this pick for a proven player who can help Luka, KP, and company.
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