Several quality point guard prospects may be available when the Mavericks make their pick in the first round of this year's draft. But with expectations low that a rookie guard would be ready to lead the offense next season, many Mavs fans are pining for Houston's Patrick Beverley as a potential replacement for Rajon Rondo.
As much as Beverley's defense and shooting ability make him an attractive free agent target, Dallas fans are overlooking another younger, cheaper option from the other Texas team. San Antonio's Cory Joseph, just 23 but with four years already in the league, could be a better fit with the team as the Mavericks front office begins seriously constructing a team that's not built around Dirk Nowitzki.
A good start to embracing that path would be avoiding another overpay of a Daryl Morey bargain discovery, even if he is a Chandler Parsons workout buddy. Dallas instead should be looking for undervalued veterans under the age of 25 who could do more in bigger roles. The franchise has found quality contributors who fit that mold in the likes of Brandon Bass, DeJuan Blair and Brandan Wright.
Joseph has shown the potential to make the same kind of leap many underused role players have made with the Mavs. The former Texas Longhorn has improved in each of his four years as an understudy to All-Star Tony Parker. His numbers remained modest in 2014-15, but per 36 minutes, he averaged 13 points and nearly 5 rebounds and 5 assists. More importantly, his shooting percentages from the three point line and inside the arc have steadily crept up.
Potential bargain option
Although he shares Beverley's restricted free agent status, Joseph may be more gettable for a team like the Mavericks. Parker is expected to play for several more years and the Spurs last year committed about $12 million over three years to backup Patty Mills, a hero of the 2014 Finals. The San Antonio front office could be facing a dilemma over whether they trade Mills and pay Joseph or just let the third-year man walk.
The Rockets, meanwhile, have limited options at point guard without Beverley -- as of now, 37-year-old Jason Terry, 38-year-old Pablo Prigioni and sophomore guard Nick Johnson would be competing for minutes next season should their starting point not return. Morey could address the position in the draft but the state of the depth chart means he's likely to match any offer for Beverley, 26, unless a team like Dallas offers way more than he's worth.
Even if an offer sheet starting at $7-8 million annually is enough to pry Beverley away from the Rockets, it makes little sense for Dallas to pay that much when a rookie point guard would be locked into a team friendly deal of around $1 million for up to five years. Beverley, 26, is also three years older than Joseph even though he has two less years of NBA experience.
The other high profile options in free agency -- Goran Dragic, Brandon Knight, Reggie Jackson -- are either too expensive, poor fits, or unlikely to leave their current teams. Dallas has already seen what others like Jeremy Lin, Mo Williams or Beno Udrih are capable of and, more importantly, decision makers have seen their limitations.
Playing in San Antonio also gave Joseph heavy exposure to running the kind of free flowing offense that Rick Carlisle has sought to employ since his partnership with Jason Kidd. Some national media folks have pushed the idea that Carlisle just can't get along with any point guard who's not Kidd. As silly as that observation might be, it's hard to imagine Joseph would find the Mavs coach too demanding after spending his first four years under Gregg Popovich.
Before the Rondo deal blew up in their faces, the Mavericks had assembled a decent collection of young veterans on value contracts such as Wright and Al-Farouq Aminu. The team has found success bargain hunting in free agency even as it continued to strike out year after year in pursuit of big name stars.
Joseph is probably not the long-term answer at point guard for the Mavericks but he could be a solid placeholder while a rookie develops should the team go that route in the draft. He also offers another opportunity to add young talent the team desperately needs if it wants to attract a legitimate star.