It’s that time of the year, ladies and gents. And no, I’m not speaking of when the New Year’s Resolution people start giving up on their workout goals; I’m speaking of the NBA trade deadline.
Unlike the NFL but similar to the MLB, the trade deadline in the NBA is always a fascinating spectacle. There’s always an abundance of rumors with several trades being finalized as the deadline strikes, usually contenders looking to bolster their roster for a playoff push.
That’s where the Mavs come in.
If you weren’t already aware, the Mavericks sadly aren’t showing signs of being a contender. Sitting at 15-31 and the fourth-worst record in the league, Dallas is headed back to the lottery, but they’ll definitely be a player at the trade deadline.
That’s where we come in.
1. Given how the first half of the season has gone, what should the Mavs be seeking in a possible trade? Young talent? A draft pick? Free up cap space?
Cunningham: The Mavericks have a ton of cap space, so if they’re looking to make use of it in the trade market, it would be best for them to be available to absorb salaries from crunched teams like Portland or Charlotte or whoever, really comes calling. The key will be extracting picks and/or young players from those deals. Mavs’ fans should brace for the reality that those picks might not be for this year’s draft.
DuPont: Rather than push a pipe dream of large scale talent acquisition, which hasn’t paved out beyond Harrison Barnes’ exceptional growth and the mining of the gem that is Yogi Ferrell, the obvious answer is acquiring draft pieces.
In the process of acquiring draft picks, a front office could find itself in a position to shed cap space as well. Amassing draft picks also establishes an environment predicated on growth and development while maintaining cap flexibility. If the Mavs were to find themselves in a position to make two first round picks in this or next year’s draft, while maintaining a core centered around Barnes and Dennis Smith Jr., then the rebuilding process is kick started with obvious emerging talents.
Konkle: Any sort of asset. Whether that be a pick or a young guy, if it helps them get younger while simultaneously raising their potential ceiling, they should pull the trigger.
Rathbun: At 15-31, it’s safe to say at this point that we are rebuilding. With that in mind, the Mavs should be either looking for young talent like Nikola Vucevic or Julius Randle or looking for draft picks. The free cap space route has done the Mavs no favors the past five years and with the emergence of DSJ, I feel like Donnie, Rick, and Mark might value the draft a little more than years past. Plus, this is the Warriors league the next few years and I think the Mavs realize that. The caveat with getting young talent or picks is that the Mavs will have to take on bad, bloated contracts like Luol Deng or Tristan Thompson. The cap space the Mavs have is now an asset, as we can absorb bloated deals that are attached with picks and if we are lucky maybe even a young talent.
Mulford: All of the above? When it comes to acquiring young talent or a draft pick, it’s presumed that the Mavs would have to take back a contract in order to do so, which I would be okay with and is the most logical route for Dallas. At the moment, the Mavs sit with between $13-14 million in cap space, which gives them more wiggle room than most of the league outside of the Bulls. The Mavs hold some leverage with their cap space so let’s see just how bad some of these teams want to shed some weight.
2. Is there a player in mind that you’d like the Mavs to make an offer for?
Cunningham: There isn’t for me. Most of the best options/scenarios in my mind for the Mavericks are in restricted free agency for players such as Jabari Parker, Jusuf Nurkic and Julius Randle. Trading for those players now leaves Dallas a little more behind the eight ball and, if they wait until the offseason, depending on whether those players’ incumbent teams decide to extend or not (Parker is the most likely to get extended), Dallas can find itself with more leverage.
DuPont: I️ would love to see Dallas bring in a scorer like Lou Williams who is capable of dropping 35 points from the second unit. Williams is having a career season, which unfortunately means his trade value would be lofty if the Clippers were to even entertain the idea. Jusuf Nurkic is another interesting name floating around as the Mavericks still have Nerlens Noel to move at the franchise’s convenience.
Konkle: I see Mavs fans throwing around names like Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood, and Julius Randle. Those would all be great acquisitions, but those guys will likely be a little trickier to swing a deal for. So, I’m looking at a pair of young wings who have shown flashes and have clear talent, but struggle finding consistency. Those two players would happen to be Stanley Johnson of Detroit and Malik Beasley in Denver. They would both fill a massive void on the wing, and if they could tap into that upside they have, it would be a good investment for the Mavericks. Both have been rumored to be available, and could be gotten on the cheap. If the some of the bigger names are too tough to snag, these two would be a nice consolation.
Rathbun: Nikola Vucevic or Julius Randle. But I am way more in on Vucevic than Randle because I am unsure how he would fit. Randle is a smaller front court player that can’t really shoot the ball well. He isn’t an above the rim player either. Vucevic has shown the ability to step outside and hit the 3 this year. He has almost averaged a double-double with 17 points and 9 rebounds. He does not play above the rim, so there wouldn’t be much opportunity for DSJ to Vuc oops, but I think he could do well at the nail and elbow where Dirk would normally operate from. It would be hard to see both Dirk and Vucevic on the floor defensively though and the spacing on offense might not be too great either.
Mulford: Unless an unexpected Woj Bomb is dropped and the Mavs acquire a star player, I’d only want the Mavs entertaining young players with upside. The one name that intrigues me most is Jabari Parker of the Bucks. By trading for Jabari, the Mavericks could gain a potential star for the future while also unloading some cap, like Wesley Matthews, who would fit the Bucks roster well and has a player option this summer worth just under $19 million. Say for instance, the Mavs trade Matthews and Mejri to the Bucks for Jabari, John Henson, and old friend Jason Terry. The Bucks get two defensive minded players who can make an impact in a post season run while the Mavs get a young talent in Jabari while taking on the contract of Henson and bringing Jet back where he belongs, possibly transitioning into a coaching role when he retires. No doubt in my mind the Mavs would pull the trigger on this deal but how much does the Bucks value Jabari and do they have serious plans to resign him?
Outside of Parker, guys like Mario Hezonja from the Magic or Malik Beasley from the Nuggets are young talents I’d be interested in who haven’t been given much opportunity in their current situations.
3. What player on the Mavs do you see as most likely to get dealt?
Cunningham: If I had to choose one, I’d say that Mejri is likely to be dealt. Devin Harris, J.J. Barea and Wes Matthews, as much as Mavs’ fans WANT them to be traded (and probably should be traded, if you’re doing the rebuild by the Twitter book), aren’t going anywhere. Harris doesn’t move the needle for any contender out there, and his expiring deal makes the lack of a pending trade sting a bit less. Barea is Mavs’ lifer and while I agree his value has never been higher, this is the way Dallas does business with their “boys in blue” and the presumed loyalty to their veterans. Back to Mejri. He’s about to be a restricted free agent and with Dallas very on much on record of saying they value their cap space, I can’t picture him fitting into the pending youth movement, not with potentially Seth Curry and Yogi Ferrell both up for extensions.
DuPont: Entering the season, I️ thought that Wes Matthews could easily be dealt, particularly due to an unflattering contract of $17.8 million this season. But after watching game after game, digesting film, and understanding that Matthews’ selflessness impacts the game on both ends of the court, I️ seem to have talked myself off that ledge.
No one in the metroplex, myself included, seems interested in entertaining a Dirk trade. Which doesn’t leave much to offer beyond the looming split from Noel. Let’s be clear on this: Nerlens should be gone sooner than later. Maxi Kleber could also be an interesting move depending on his value in late January as we start inching towards the deadline.
Konkle: It seems like Nerlens Noel is the easy answer here. He’s still has considerable talent, is on a friendly deal in a less than ideal situation, so he probably will draw at least some interest even though he’s a potential flight risk during free agency this summer.
Rathbun: For me, it’s a tie between Nerlens Noel, J.J. Barea, and Wes Matthews. I honestly don’t think the Mavs will make a deadline trade only because anybody can sign Nerlens Noel in the off-season. If Noel isn’t attached to a Wes Matthews deal, then neither of them are going anywhere. Same goes for J.J. Although, I think all 3 of those guys could really help the Cavs. The Cavs are the only playoff team I could see taking on Wesley’s contract. If the Mavs make a deal with Cleveland for Noel and Wes, I expect the Brooklyn pick and Tristan Thompson and Shumpert. I don’t want J.R. Smith because I know he wouldn’t want to be here. Plus, I think he could instill some bad habits (firing 3’s from anywhere at any time even though he’s slumping) and even though he seems to have matured as a person, I’m more concerned for DSJ’s growth.
Mulford: I think the quick answer here is Nerlens. After the contract stalemate this past summer and not earning much playing time before his injury, I could see the Mavs parting ways with Nerlens in what would most likely be a of mutual interest from Noel’s camp. Though unlikely, shedding the weight of Matthews or Dwight Powell’s contracts would clear even more cap space for Donnie and Mark to play with in a summer where very few teams are slated to have cap space. Outside of Nerlens, I could see contending teams making calls inquiring about our guard depth. Guys like Barea, Yogi, and Devin Harris could all definitely help a playoff team, who have been effective off the bench and done a great job mentoring DSJ. I don’t see Dallas parting ways with J.J. as he’s a fan favorite but also a favorite of Dirk and Carlisle’s. I think if Curry was healthy, it would make more sense and give the team more leeway to trade one of our guards.
Salah could also help a playoff team with his shot blocking and All-NBA Irritant First Team honors. A restricted free agent this summer, I’d be surprised to see Salah back next season as I’d guess the Mavs spend their money elsewhere so getting something back for Mejri while we still have him would make sense.
4. Ultimately, do you see the Mavs making a deal?
Cunningham: Yes. From what I’ve read and heard from being around Dallas so far this season, the interest is there to be a salary dumping ground. McRoberts deal is a nice little trade piece. I think the Mavericks get something done with a cap-crunched team, but I’d be lying if I said I had the slightest idea who that would be. My best guess is they squeeze Portland for something.
DuPont: I️ think ultimately the Mavs will make a move. Even if that move is closer to June and the 2018 NBA Draft.
Konkle: I do. Even if it’s a small move, they still are one of the few teams to have cap space, so they could potentially serve as a hub for other team’s bad contracts, obviously with appropriate compensation coming back their way for taking said contract. So, whether they end up with just a second-round draft pick, Malik Beasley, or Jabari Parker, it’s seems more likely they do something than they do not.
Rathbun: I don’t think so. If they do, I think it will be to help facilitate a trade between other teams by taking on a bad contract and receiving some draft compensation or maybe a younger player who hasn’t exactly panned out like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. I’m pulling for Vucevic. I would prefer draft picks at the minimum if a deal is done. I am all about the organic growth and building from the draft now.
Mulford: I do. What that move is, I have no clue but I would be surprised and disappointed if they stand pat. Every fan loves trade rumors but the deadline is a little less fun when your team isn’t picking up the phones. By having the luxury to take on cap, the Mavs have some leverage with other teams looking to shed some weight. Donnie and Mark will surely be smart about this maneuver and whatever contract we take on, the reward will outweigh the salary dump.
So, to the other 29 teams in the league, please feel free to step into the Shark Tank. The Mavs are open for business.
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