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Who should the Mavericks target in restricted free agency?

With all of the NBA talk lately being centered around the trade deadline on Feb. 8, it’s easy to forget about another key element of player acquisition at this point of the season: Restricted free agency.

The Dallas Mavericks have been players there recently (see Chandler Parsons and Nerlens Noel). They will have two of their own entering RFA this summer (Salah Mejri and Yogi Ferrell). What does it mean for now? This offseason?

First, here are all of the pending 2018 NBA restricted free agents:

Jabari Parker, Aaron Gordon, Dante Exum, Nemanja Bjelica, Marcus Smart, Julius Randle, Nik Stauskas, Noah Vonleh, Elfrid Payton, Doug McDermott, Malcom Delaney, Zach LaVine, Lucas Nogueira, Jusuf Nurkic, Bruno Caboclo, Rodney Hood, Shabazz Napier, Clint Capela, Marcus Georges-Hunt, Kyle Anderson, Montrezl Harrell, Raul Neto, Pat Connaughton, Salah Mejri, Okaro White, Dwight Buycks, Davis Bertans, Sheldon McClellan, Fred VanVleet, Bryn Forbes, Patrick McCaw, David Nwaba, Treveon Graham, Yogi Ferrell and Ryan Arcidiacono.

There are several names in that mix that intrigue me from a Dallas perspective and I’ve done you the service of bolding them. Parker is one. Randle, clearly, is another and his name has been openly linked to the Mavericks even though a trade at this point is unlikely given his improved play. Nurkic is another. Yet another is Rodney Hood.

I had hopes for the Mavericks to make a run at Clint Capela this offseason, but his rise has complicated things not just for Dallas but also for a Houston team that is going to be hard-pressed to give him his much-due raise if they can’t move off the Ryan Anderson deal. Is it possible the Mavericks could swing some kind of sign-and-trade for Capela and Anderson this offseason? Of course, but I’d doubt it.

Portland is already showing signs of moving on from Nurkic. Just last night, he was benched for one hour in favor of the younger (and better shooting) Zach Collins. At just 23 years old, Nurkic is still a young player and has shown the ability to be a dominant big man along with slowly improving range. From my chair, he fits Dallas’ “interchangeable men” philosophy. What will Portland do?

Mark Cuban is on the record as saying Dallas intends to use its cap space to “take on salary for young players and picks.” That’s great. In fact, that’s exactly what I’d want them to do given the situation the Mavericks currently find themselves in.

But what if, you know, there’s no good deals that would adequately compensate Dallas for lending its cap sheet out as an albatross landing ground?

Why not money-whip a few restricted free agents?

Again, this isn’t just Twitter-GMing. There are valuable commodities to be had as I’ve mentioned that could fit into Dallas’ long-term picture. Parker is going to be hard for Milwaukee to afford and he’s not even getting back on the court until just before the trade deadline. Are the Bucks going to be able to gather $20 million worth of intel in a week? Parker is on the record as “seeking a max extension.” That isn’t happening.

Hood is due a huge raise from Utah this offseason but they’re already sitting at $111 million in total payroll. They are set to shed $29 million in space if they don’t resign any of Joe Johnson, Hood, Raul Neto, Dante Exum and Derrick Favors. Could the Mavericks tie up the Jazz and wrestle Hood away? At 25, he’s not the youngest of players anymore, but he has shown tremendous potential to be a great NBA wing, something Dallas sorely needs.

All this being said, it’s an intriguing situation that Dallas finds itself in as we get closer not only to the trade deadline, but the 2018 offseason. The Mavericks will certainly have their share of options to use their cap space.

I'm Zack Cunningham, a broadcast journalism major from Abilene Christian University's class of 2008. I've lived in Texas for 28 of my 31 years on this Earth and I've followed the Mavericks since 1998. My first memory of them was the 2001 playoffs and being extremely happy when they beat the Jazz, but sad when they lost to the Spurs in five games in the conference semifinals. However, seeing Dirk drop 42 stands out to me, punctuated by his dunk in garbage time. I covered high school sports for the Cleburne Times-Review from 2008-12 before moving into the tech industry. Most recently, in 2015 covered the Mavericks for the Fanatic briefly before moving to work with Mike Fisher at I am married to my beautiful wife, Jessica, and have been for just over five years now. We live in Carrollton with our dog, Zara, and cat, Drake. I'm looking forward to covering them again this season with the Fanatic!

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