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Roundtable: Dallas Mavericks trade ideas and more!

Dallas Mavericks Roundtable: Nerlens Noel, Wes Matthews, Dwight Powell, acquisitions, trade ideas and more!

Roundtable: Dallas Mavericks trade ideas and more!

Here at the Dallas Sports Fanatic, we like to discuss certain things in groups. Whether it’s Adrian Beltre running towards the nearest Whataburger after getting caught in a rundown or what in the world the Dallas Mavericks are going to do with Dwight Powell’s contract (probably nothing), we’ll talk about it!

To make it easier for you, the reader, to familiarize yourself with our individual perspective, we’ll be composing this article in roundtable form.

Joining me today are fellow Mavericks’ writers, Mike DuPont, Trevor Rathbun, Reese Konkle and Michael Mulford.

Let’s dive in!

1) Is there any “obvious” under-the-radar type acquisition you can see the Mavericks making this offseason?

Mike DuPont: Wes Matthews would be an obvious piece for a team interested in acquiring a wing defender capable of stretching the floor. What comes back in return? That’s what makes this trade turn from obvious to unlikely. Finding a team interested in absorbing Matthews’ salary and willing to sacrifice a blossoming veteran comparable to Jae Crowder (I know) or potential draft picks would be a hard sell. Matthews was the team’s third-leading scorer last season, appearing in 73 games. Dumping him in Charlotte for a future first-rounder doesn’t leave much of a promising future in the short-term. However, a swap for Nicholas Batum could be a step towards bridging a new, younger core roster as the Mavericks continue to re-tool towards contention.

Reese Konkle: The only “obvious” move there is to make is Nerlens Noel, but that wouldn’t classify as under the radar. So no, I don’t think there is much left for this team to do this offseason other than retaining Noel and that’s okay. The Mavs’ timeline doesn’t exactly jive with the idea of spending big in free agency rather, patiently building with homegrown talent.

Michael Mulford: Besides the clear obvious issue of reaching an agreement with Noel, I think adding a guy like K.J. McDaniels would make sense. He’s played well when given the opportunity, but that’s the thing; after being traded away from Philly in 2015, he hasn’t seen the floor much. An athletic, versatile wing like McDaniels who must be hungry for a real opportunity could add potential to the Dallas bench.

Trevor Rathbun: No, I think the only moves they will make will be to bring in bodies to training camp like they have with Gian Clavell and PJ Dozier. The only obvious acquisition, although not under the radar, is Nerlens Noel. Getting this deal done (regardless of how quickly or slowly it gets done) seems to be the Mavs remaining offseason move. I think the front office and Coach Carlisle are comfortable with the roster they have at the moment. I don’t see them getting involved in a three-team trade for Kyrie Irving or Carmelo Anthony.

Zack Cunningham: There are some that seem obvious from a fan perspective or even a writer’s perspective, but that doesn’t mean the Mavericks agree … and that’s where I stand. On paper, Dwight Powell and Wesley Matthews have deals that look like cap-cloggers (you could make the argument that Powell is the more expendable piece of the two). That being said, I don’t see Dallas moving on from these deals simply because it seems other teams aren’t willing to take on the deal anyway. We holler about Powell’s deal being an albatross, but the thing is, other NBA teams see a similar situation. Brooklyn is the only type of team I see being even remotely interested, but if they weren’t willing to offer Noel a max contract, why would they take on Powell’s deal)

TLDR: No.

2) As a Mavericks observer, the Nerlens Noel trade caught me by surprise and it’s widely been hailed as a savvy move. Do you agree?

DuPont: Try to remove yourself from the current contract dispute and ask yourself this: Can a 6-foot-11, 22-year old rim protector, with career averages of 1.6 steals and 1.5 blocks help this Mavericks team?  Noel was instrumental in helping the Mavs, a team not privy to shot blocking (league-worst 3.7 blocks per game in 2015 and 2016), redirect their defensive efforts. The Mavs ranked second in opponent points in the paint (39.5 points per game via NBA.com) last season. By acquiring Noel, the Mavs front office is in a position to begin sculpting an identity for the Post-Dirk era, which began the moment Harrison Barnes was signed. With Dennis Smith on the roster as well, the Mavs potentially have three foundational pieces moving forward.

Konkle: Absolutely. This was a stroke of genius by the Mavs’ brass for many reasons. The first being that they acquired essentially a 22-year-old lottery pick, without having to give up a first-round pick on their end. While the contractual standoff may make fans nervous, the trade gave them the leverage. With his restricted tag and other teams wells running dry, Dallas is in the driver seat.

Mulford: I 100% agree. When I saw the notification on my phone that we acquired Noel, I was shocked yet ecstatic. I figured a contender like the Celtics would’ve pulled the trigger on adding Noel, unlike the Mavs who were going in a separate direction. The trade did come at the cost of Justin Anderson, who I really like, but adding Noel was a no brainer for the future of our franchise.

Rathbun:  I was extremely impressed by the front office with the deal. However, it will only be a savvy move if the Mavs lock up the big man for multiple years. Otherwise, they gave up 2 second round picks (not a big deal) and Justin Anderson for nothing. If Noel leaves next year the Mavs will once again have a reputation for not being able to keep players they view as possible foundation pieces in town (see: DeAndre Jordan and almost every other free agent they have courted for the last five years). Also, Justin’s growth seemed to be slowing here with Matthews, Barnes, Curry, and Finney-Smith getting his minutes. But I can’t help but think (and root for) that he will be a solid contributor off the bench and maybe even a solid starter depending on how he grows these next few years. Not to mention, the vets in the locker room really liked him.

Cunningham:  Leading up to the trade deadline, I hadn’t seen Noel realistically associated with Dallas anywhere. There had been rumors of him being a target in free agency after the season, but that was about it. For Dallas to swoop in and somehow steal him away for two second-rounders and a little-used (if much-beloved) rotation player … that’s a steal. Of course, this all depends on if he stays healthy (and if a long-term deal gets done … which I feel it will). Dallas’ training staff is among the best in the league so I can’t really imagine a place where Noel’s health would be in better hands. As far as the contract? I mean, think about it. He was expecting multiple max offers. Other respected Dallas sources were too. Zero have come in. That’s a pride shot, but I feel cooler heads will prevail and the two parties will come together on something in the $16-18M range.

3) There’s been a lot of chatter about how the Mavericks “should” trade Wes Matthews and the same sentiment extends to players like Devin Harris. Agree/disagree?

DuPont: Agree to disagree. Whether it’s acknowledged openly or not, Wes Matthews’ contract is something that will be discussed up to and likely throughout the season. At $17 million and staring down $18 million the following season, the Mavs should at least explore their options in facilitating a trade for Matthews. The front office remains loyal to Matthews, admirably so, particularly in an era where players – regardless of their caliber – are moving from franchise to franchise each year. Matthews remains an integral locker room piece. His ability to contribute in other ways besides drilling three-point baskets (36 percent last season) has endeared him to this front office and a team stocked with young potential.

Konkle: I do agree. Obviously, with any trade, you have to be getting good value. So I’m not suggesting giving them away for scraps. What I’m suggesting is if there are any assets to be had in return, that should take priority? I love Wes Mathews, and his “culture guy” status holds value. Just not more value than draft picks or young talent.

Mulford:  First on Wes, it’s a tricky situation. He’s the epitome of the type of player and teammate you would want on your team. Yet, if the Mavs aren’t contending, trading one of the top 3-and-D guys in the league could bring back a decent haul while also possibly saving close to 19 million for next summer. With Devin, I was a bit surprised the Mavs brought him back with a crowded back court even before drafting DSJ. I think when it comes down to it, Devin will be in more of a mentor role for DSJ and Yogi than contributing much on the floor this season.

Rathbun: This is the problem with not being “all in” on a rebuild. Cuban came out and said that the Mavs are rebuilding, but are they really in full rebuild mode? If so, besides veteran leadership, why hang onto Matthews’s and Harris’s contracts? Barea, Nowitzki, and Barnes all have the veteran leadership and experience that a locker room would need in my opinion. If the opportunity presents itself for either Harris or Matthews to be traded to a contender in return for expiring contracts then I say do it. That way, we give guys that we really like a chance at a playoff run and get the ability to have more cap space for the insane free agency in 2018. That is if the Mavs are really in full rebuild mode (which to me, they aren’t).

Cunningham: “Should” is the operative word here … and one that fans and the Mavs’ brass seem to disagree on when it comes to Wes Matthews. From my perspective, no, they shouldn’t feel the need to offload his deal for reasons mentioned above by my fellow astute Mavs observers. His culture contributions are critical, his defensive prowess is unmatched by any other player on the team and he’s still an effective 3-and-D wing. Dennis Smith Jr., who has professed a desire to “learn how to play defense” will learn loads from him.

As for Devin Harris, it’s a different story. He’s as close as you can get to a Mavs “lifer” on this current squad and, while I think Dallas made a critical error in playing him heavy minutes in Game 82 last season, it’s clear Dallas feels it needed to pay homage to him in that season finale. I think the market for him is much more fertile than that for Wes, but he’s also less of a hit on the books and there’s less urgency to offload him. And, since Dallas drafted DSJ, maybe I’ll drop that whole why-did-you-play-Devin-Harris-in-Game-82-last-year argument entirely.

4) Piggybacking off the previous question, sources say the Mavericks view Wes Matthews as a “foundation piece” and “untradeable.” Agree with the Mavs or disagree?

DuPont: What is the direction of the team? Because Matthews can be a foundational piece for a younger team looking to groom a roster stocked with potential. If that is where Dallas is heading, then Matthews can be that guy. He doesn’t need to be the leading scorer; he doesn’t care who’s giving the post-game interview. But if the direction is to immediately shift into title contention, Matthews may not be that guy. Simply put, the proof is in the pudding. The 6-foot-5 swingman boasts playoff averages of 13.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.3 steals per game over 32 contests. He’s a foundational piece if Avery Bradley is a foundational piece. Bradley was so important to Boston’s identity that the Celtics traded their foundational piece to Detroit following arguably his best season.

Konkle: Well, based on my previous answer I think you can guess what I think about this. What Wes brings to the table holds a lot of value, but does he fit with this teams timeline? He’s a thirty-year-old vet on a large contract with a franchise in a full rebuild. In that case, the right price should yield a deal. The Mavs have spent years building a winning culture, taking Wes out of that equation should not undo that.

Mulford: Let’s be real here, there’s only a handful of guys in the entire league that are seen as untradeable. For all we know, calling Wes “untradeable” could be because he’s a 30-year-old coming off an Achilles tear who is owed close to 19 million next season. Foundation piece, sure, for the time being. But if the Mavs aren’t contending, then that label may change. Wes is definitely a vital piece to this locker room, but as for the Mavs viewing him as untradeable, I wouldn’t be shocked if his name is being brought up in trade rumors come February.

Rathbun: Nobody besides Dirk is untradeable. The Mavs might view Matthews as “untradeable” for a variety of different trade scenarios, but if they can make a deal that will really set them up for the future I doubt Cuban and Donnie will say no. This goes back to if we are really in full rebuild mode. I think the Mavs keep telling themselves and everyone that they are rebuilding but they know that this team is only a player or 2 from being decently competitive in an insanely difficult Western Conference. I like Wes, but there were many games last season where he relied on his (somewhat broken) jump shot and wouldn’t take it inside. Maybe due to his Achilles? Either way, I would like to see him shipped off to a contender and then let Seth Curry take the reins at the SG position.

Cunningham: I’m going to agree with the Mavs on this one primarily for “culture” purposes. Look, say what you want about some of Wes’ shooting performances last year, but his defensive skills and locker-room demeanor are just as important as his offensive skill set. I said it earlier and I’ll say it again, Dennis Smith Jr. is going to have a much more accelerated learning curve with Wes on the Mavs than not. Also, Wes should have much more help defensively this season (Noel signing pending) and shouldn’t have to work as hard on offense either. That smells like a rebound season to me.

5) Dwight Powell’s contract is being viewed as an albatross this offseason by a lot of fans. In addition to who you’d like to see in return for trading Powell, what teams do you think would benefit from having him on their roster in return?

DuPont: I don’t trade Dwight Powell unless I’m convinced Matthews is an essential piece moving forward. Though Powell will move into an eight-figure salary soon, he’s still on a relatively affordable contract for a backup big in the current market. Bismack Biyombo will earn $17 million next season, more than 16 percent of Orlando’s overall cap space, after averaging 6 points and 7 rebounds in 81 appearances last season. Teams like Sacramento, Boston or even Atlanta could benefit from having an athletic pick-and-roll forward like Powell on its roster.

Konkle: Unfortunately, I think trading Dwight Powell’s contract classifies as a salary dump. Meaning that to move the contract, they would probably have to give up an asset attached to it to motivate the team to take it. Primarily the reason I don’t see this playing itself out. In the event it does, keep an eye on rebuilding teams like a Brooklyn, a Sacramento, or a Phoenix.

MulfordI can say that I was surprised when Powell got that contract from the Mavs. Not that he’s a bad player, but I didn’t think his play warranted a lengthy deal like that. But, as for a player in return for Powell, I would prefer an expiring contract to give the Mavs more money for the upcoming summer. The prospects of possibly trading Powell and Matthews leave a lot of money to be played with in a summer where not many teams will have cap space. I could see teams like Atlanta and Brooklyn being a good fit for Powell, as he could possibly become a starter on these teams in rebuilding mode.

Rathbun: Powell is a tweener big man with no real position. He isn’t strong or big enough to guard bigger centers like DeAndre Jordan and Andre Drummond. He hasn’t really shown much of an outside jump shot since he has been here. To me, he is a player that is now lost in the position abyss created by the new “space and pace” NBA. Keeping these things in mind I think he would be awesome in Memphis taking over JaMychal Green’s old role. They are similar in size and numbers. I could see Powell being used the same way Green was. Especially if Marc Gasol keeps stepping out and hitting 3s. Who would we get back? I will settle for a future draft pick and the often injured Brandan Wright, who has an expiring contract with a 2017-2018 salary of roughly 6 million. Reunions are always fun. Maybe the Mavs could get Wright healthy again and save 4 million in salary for an identical player and also create cap space for the 2018 free agency.

Cunningham: I’ve accepted that Dallas probably isn’t going to get a franchise cornerstone for trading Dwight Powell. It was hard, but I’ve come to grips with it.

Joking aside, I’d settle for a future first (not going to happen) or even someone like Kenneth Faried (also not going to happen). As far as teams that could benefit from Powell on the court, I’d have to agree with the above and say Atlanta could really benefit from having a rangy stretch-4. That’s really about it. And that’s probably why a deal hasn’t been done.

6) Are the Mavericks doing with Noel this offseason what they should’ve done with Dwight Powell last year? Do you agree with the overall strategy?

DuPont: ‘Wait-and-see’ is the best approach with an unpredictable talent in a cap-stretched market. Noel overplayed his hand by waiting beyond draft night to sign an offer sheet, which would’ve put the pressure back on Dallas. By not signing a contract, the perception becomes there isn’t much interest in signing Noel at near-max money. Obviously, that’s no benefit to the former Kentucky blue-chipper, however, it does put the Mavs’ front office in a fortuitous position when re-engaging contract talks leading up to the season.

Konkle: Quite honestly, no. While Noel is clearly the more valuable player, he has a considerably smaller market because of last summers cap spike which is why the Mavericks went ahead and locked Powell up before anyone got to him with an outrageous offer they didn’t want to match. With Noel, who they would match any offer for, they are simply letting the market dictate what his deal will look like. While that has lead to a lengthy standoff with Nerlens, in both instances the Mavs made the right play.

Mulford: With Powell, the Mavericks should’ve absolutely gone with this game plan last year. I thought the Mavs jumped the gun on offering that contract to Powell. I understand where both the front office and Noel is coming from this summer. Noel saw the money being thrown out last year and wants to collect his bag, yet that’s not the case this year. As of now, no reports state that Noel has been offered a contract from any other team. The market just isn’t there this summer, which is a pill Noel and his camp must swallow, whether that’s signing a one-year deal with the Mavs or staying long term.

RathbunAbsolutely. The Mavs definitely learned from their mistakes with Powell’s restricted free agency last year. With Noel, they told him to go out and see what his market value is. The only problem with that is that the money in the market started drying up. So the Mavs had and still have all the leverage. I agree with the strategy from a financial standpoint. Why offer max money if no other team is offering max money since we can match? I also think a yearly salary between 15-17 million is fair enough for a player who has seen his games played go down every year (he played 75 games in his rookie season and only played 42 games last year) and has never averaged more than 30 minutes a game in his career. The best ability is availability.

From a player-team relationship standpoint this kind of sucks. Restricted free agency is supposed to help teams retain their players and it is doing so in this situation. But it has also caused Noel to miss out on money that he probably feels he should be offered. I hope a few million dollars doesn’t ruin the relationship between the Mavs and Noel. We need a young, defensive minded center. My guess: Noel plays on his qualifying offer of roughly 10 million (he will make less than he did last year) and then tests out free agency in 2018 as an unrestricted free agent, with the Mavs handling of his restricted free agency in the back of his mind.

Cunningham: Yes, but it doesn’t make it any easier for fans to accept. From a financial standpoint, Dallas is nailing this, but there is an increasing perception that the Mavericks all too often risk alienating would-be valuable role players (see Chandler Parsons, Tyson Chandler).

The “just give him the max” cries are based out of pure impatience. It would be utterly absurd for Dallas to throw a max offer at Noel when literally no other team has shown a hint of interest at any level. I get it. I do.

We’re only going to get into “hurt feelings” categories if this plays out beyond Oct. 1 and Noel actually gives himself a pay cut by accepting his qualifying offer ($4.6M) and leaves the Mavs offers of $14M or $17M or whatever it is (it’s higher than $4.6M, believe me) on the table. And guess what? None of this is Dallas’ fault. Noel and his agent misread the market, the salary cap shrank unexpectedly after last year’s drunken spending spree and the 22-year old center got left out in the cold. But he’ll be back as a Maverick next year. Mark it down.

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 DallasBasketball.com. 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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