With the NBA’s successful stint in the NBA bubble officially over after the Lakers defeated the Heat earlier this week, league execs, media and fans alike have all begun to move their eyes towards next season even if it’s still pretty unclear when exactly that’s going to start.
The Mavericks have found themselves in the news cycle over the last week or so because of multiple interesting rumors, none of which surround coach Rick Carlisle’s Tik Tok debut with his teenage daughter.
RICK CARLISLE IS IN A TIKTOK VIDEO
— Dallas Nation (@Dallas__Nation) October 15, 2020
Earlier in the week, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst kind of tossed in that the Mavericks “are going to be at the front of that line” when it comes to teams ready to pursue two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo whenever he is officially available either this offseason via trade or next year when he is potentially a free agent.
Giannis to Dallas is of course a long-running dream of Mavs fans and it lines up with the way the Dallas front office has structured the team’s cap sheet with the potential to have max room in the 2021 offseason.
Is the Greek Freak in Dallas likely to me? No. Is it much more realistic of a dream than it was maybe just a year ago? Absolutely.
This is not going to be the same Dallas Mavericks organization entering into free agency negotiations with stars throughout the 2010s with only cap space and the ability to play with an over-the-hill legend in Dirk Nowitzki. 21-year-old Luka Doncic seems to be a lock to be a perennial contender for the MVP after just his sophomore season and even though Kristaps Porzingis’ stock is a bit of a question mark, the flashes he showed in the second half of this season were enough to instill faith from me that he will be an All-Star over the next few seasons so long as the Mavericks are near the top of the Western Conference standings.
At this point in his career, Giannis likely has no other interests other than winning. He has virtually every other accolade a player could want and he’s only about to turn 26 in December — conceivably just now entering his “prime.” I can 100% see him just taking the biggest deal possible from the Bucks and continuing to keep trying to bring a Larry O’Brien trophy to… Cream City. I wouldn’t blame him for one second in doing that. It’s honestly the most admirable route to take.
However, the Mavericks have to be viewed as a legitimate threat if he were actually to be on the open market.
Another interesting note came out today via The Athletic’s Shams Charania noting in a league roundup piece the following:
“The Mavericks are willing to take on large salaries from a team to acquire a star player, sources say. Dallas is building the roster around its two stars, Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, and could emerge as a destination for top talent.”
This is very interesting because it almost seems to fly right in the face of that fact that the team is seriously interested in pursuing Giannis if he becomes a free agent next offseason. When you say acquiring a “large” salary for a “star” player, it makes me think of plenty of potentially disgruntled or at least very available big name players that will be discussed as potential trade center-pieces this winter:
(In no particular order and in no way endorsing a trade for any of them)
James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Rudy Gobert, Paul George, Victor Oladipo, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Bradley Beal, just to name a few.
One thing that most of them (not all) have in common: they’ll still be under contract next offseason and taking up a major chunk of Dallas’ projected salary cap space if they were to try to acquire Antetokounmpo via a free agent signing.
As of now, I personally don’t think the Mavericks really have the assets to obtain any of the names above unless they’re willing to deal Porzingis and I don’t think there’s any chance the team would do that after just one season of him and Doncic together. But if they were able to obtain one of the big names above to create a big three?
Maybe, and stick with me here, they’d just be acquiring them for a “see what happens” 2020-2021 season to see what happens and then ultimately make them the main piece in a package they could send to the Bucks in a sign and trade deal after Giannis verbally commits to come to Dallas?
Who knows. What’s in front of the Mavericks right now is a really interesting offseason? Do they make a huge deal for a big name to form a big three with Doncic and Porzingis? Do they play things relatively conservatively and let their role players continue to develop while bringing in another rotation player on the wings? They have options even though their trade cupboard is seemingly pretty barren right now. Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson are always capable of surprising us.
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