The Mavericks have had five different starting point guards in five years. With J.J. Barea under contract for 3 more years, Devin Harris for 1 more year, Deron Williams a free agent with mutual interest to return, and Raymond Felton a free agent as well, what should the Mavericks' offseason plan at point guard look like?
Well the Mavs have no choice but to hold onto J.J. and Devin, so you can go ahead and pencil in Barea at backup PG and Harris at backup SG (for at least a third of the season anyway--sorry Devin!). I also wouldn't bring Felton back--Felton was great with people injured, but ideally you don't want 5 point guards on the team in lieu of basically any wing depth whatsoever.
Beyond that, who knows? I don't think you necessarily need someone like Mike Conley, though that would be awesome. Probably a pipe dream though, since the Mavs will likely have far too much money tied up in their big three of Dirk, Parsons, and Wes. What you need is a bigger point guard who checks off three boxes: (1) be comfortable sharing ballhandling with Parsons; (2) be able to shoot from outside decently well; and (3) don't be a liability on defense. For the right price, Deron Williams is perfectly fine in that role. We'll just wait and see what kind of money he wants. Here's the bad news: after that, there's basically no one you would want. We're talking choosing between Brandon Jennings, Mario Chalmers, and a bunch of scrubs. None of those people check the boxes I just discussed, so yeah I'm saying we're basically stuck with D-Will. Make it work Mavs.
Barea and Harris aren't going anywhere like it or not -- they're both still under contract and are pretty worthless to other NBA teams in trade (Barea because of his dependency on Dirk for production and Harris because he can't finish a season healthy). The Mavs should also probably thank Felton for his service and move on. He did good work in Dallas, but let's not act like he was a building block. Remember, the Mavs only won 42 games with a bunch of old dudes -- it's not like they really need to work on bringing every piece back.
The big question is bringing Williams back or go after someone big like Mike Conley. I love Conley but I also have seen the last five off-seasons play out in Dallas -- Conley isn't coming here. Full stop. After Conley, the free agent pickings are slim and despite all my misgivings about Williams (his durability and extremely mediocre production outside of clutch situations) it would probably benefit the Mavs to not have a sixth starting point guard in six seasons. Williams is steady and cheap enough. If the Mavs want continuity, Williams will be fine to bring back of the two free agent point guards, so long as the Mavs spend their money on getting another wing and a starting center.
I actually think Barea and Harris are very moveable. With player's salaries increasing, both have decent deals that teams in need of guard depth could take a chance on them (Atlanta and Washington come to mind), and it's not like the free agent crop is bursting with names. Also, with more teams looking to spread it out and go more pick-n-roll, Barea might be someone team's consider as a second/third guard (Clippers if Austin Rivers moves). But before the Mavs decide to part with either player, they really need to figure out who will start at the position.
Point guard is probably the shallowest position this offseason, as it's practically Mike Conley or bust, so the Mavs should at least put out a feeler on him. If that doesn't pan out, bringing back Deron Williams is the best Plan B. Williams has his flaws, but he brings continuity, which is something the position has sorely lacked since Jason Kidd. He also might have the best value. Other options are Jeremy Lin, Marin Chalmers, Ty Lawson, and Brandon Jennings.
Best case scenario for the Mavs would be getting Conley and move at least one of Barea and Harris to bring back Williams as a backup. Most likely would bringing back Williams to start and keeping Barea and Harris. Either way, it's probably the end of Felton in Dallas.
I really wouldn't be surprised if the Mavericks brought back all their guards from this season. Conversely, I wouldn't be surprised if they blew the whole thing up too. You kind of don't know with this team. That said, Williams played well this season, especially in the clutch. If he isn't the first point guard target on the Mavs' summer wish list, there are already rumors that Mike Conley could be a potential target, then Williams should be the clear number two. The only thing that I think would hamper his re-signing would be the length and amount of his contract.
Felton, like Williams showed that he is still extremely valuable. But he's also a free agent. In my season review of him I mentioned that he could go chase the money if the right amount gets slid his way from another team. It's really up in the air. But he is planning to buy a house in Dallas so he must like it here.
As for Barea and Harris, they aren't going anywhere. At least not yet. And I don't think the team will look to move Barea. He's locked down for a few more years. Harris' contract is more ideal if the team is looking to lump him into some kind of trade. This is just a hypothetical. I haven't seen any rumors that the team is interested in doing this. But with one year remaining on his contract he could be moved this summer or at the trade deadline next season and then bought out.
The real question there is how much value does Harris still have? He has undergone two procedures on his foot in recent years and had one done on his hand already this offseason. Those are big concerns, especially for an aging guard, he's 33. Because of these concerns, it would seemingly be hard to convince another team to lump him into a deal.
It's slim pickings in the guard market this summer if the Mavs are looking to make a splash without shoving heaps of money at a restricted free agent. Standing pat might not be the sexy choice but it may be the only option they have.