News broke Thursday night that the Mavericks have signed this year’s 56th overall pick Ray Spalding to a four-year contract. The deal, first reported by Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports, means Dallas has now signed all three of their second round picks in this year’s draft to some form of deal. The 60th pick in the draft Kostas Antetokounmpo was signed to a two-way contract earlier in July and then the 33rd pick Jalen Brunson signed a four-year deal earlier this week. Add in 3rd overall pick Luka Doncic and this has the potential to be one of the most important draft classes in franchise history.
The interesting thing to note about Spalding’s contract is that it isn’t one of the new two-way contracts a team typically uses for a player they intend to spend most of their season developing in the G-League. Each team only gets two of those and currently those two spots are occupied on the Mavs by the aforementioned Antetokounmpo and now second year big man Johnathan Motley.
Assuming Dirk, Yogi, Broekhoff, Motley & Spalding fill out the 17 in some manner, this would be size breakdown
6’3” & under = 4
6’5”-6’9” = 5
6’10” & over = 8
— Isaac Harris (@IsaacLHarris) July 17, 2018
In an interesting development over the last few seasons, Dallas has begun to really invest in big men. Thankfully, only one of those big men really plays on the ground: Dirk Nowitzki. The rest of the Mavericks big men seem to be poised to be above-the-rim type players who fit the mold of the what the new NBA center tends to be. Guys like DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Powell and now Ray Spalding are players who will be at their best on offense when they’re up in the air.
Spalding has earned his way into this front court conversation with a solid Summer League performance where he averaged 8 points and 5 rebounds on 59% shooting.
Is this new contract really a long-term commitment to developing Spalding by the Mavericks? The way they have utilized the end of their roster the last 12 months has been pretty brutal for anyone involved. Players like Antonius Cleveland, Jalen Jones, Kyle Collinsworth have all been signed to some sort of two-way or even partially guaranteed deal by Dallas, only to be cut loose within a few months. One thing Spalding might have as an advantage is the fact that the Mavs drafted him, thus feeling more committed to being patient and proving it was a solid pick. All of the Cleveland, Jones, Collinsworth trio were undrafted and had been a place or two in trying to find their NBA footing.
While the NBA-level frontcourt rotation for Dallas will likely consist of Nowitzki, Jordan, Powell and Maxi Kleber first, it’s entirely possible that either Spalding or Johnathan Motley could force their way into the fray when an opportunity arises. It is anticipated that both will probably spend the majority of their time in Frisco with the Texas Legends, but injuries or other unexpected things do happen.
As we reported last week, the final #Mavs roster-juggling includes considering a trade of Motley – who they are fond of – that would be beneficial to him.
— mike fisher ✭ (@fishsports) July 19, 2018
It is being reported by Mike Fisher that the Mavericks could seek to move Motley before the season begins. Who knows if anything like that will come to be, as one would have to think that any trade of Motley would feature him as merely a piece of a larger package. With the Mavericks reportedly not being interested in taking on much, if any salary, beyond this season, trade options could be very limited.
No matter who breaks camp as a Maverick, they certainly have invested more into athletic big men recently and Ray Spalding certainly fits that mold. The Louisville alum will look to make a huge impression on the NBA this season.
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