After recently looking at the retention curve of Mavericks, we thought it might be a good idea to forecast which current Mavs may still be around after three years, or the 2020 season. Even with the high turnover rate of the NBA, there are a few good predictors for player retention like age, contract and expected production.
We’ll start with the guys likely not to make it.
Leaving by 2020
Special HOF Category: Dirk Nowitzki
The key question here is age. Cement-speed Nowitzki recently signed a two-year-deal, which takes him to 2018 and 20 years of service. Since Dirk likes symbology in numbers, maybe he would like to play until he’s 41 since... @swish41. Dirk would be 41 years and 90-odd days old for the tip off of 2019-20, which puts Dirk into the top 10 oldest NBA players ever, over the likes of John Stockton, Karl Malone and Grant Hill. He would be #7 behind 1998 Herb Williams. It’s theoretically possible since Dirk can shoot and be seven feet tall for another 10 years, but realistically, Dirk is taking things year to year.
Wrong side of 30: J.J. Barea, Devin Harris, Deron Williams, Andrew Bogut
These veterans may have a couple more years with the Mavericks but will be in their mid-thirties by 2020, an age when most NBA players step down or become NBA vagabonds like JET.
Fringe guys: AJ Hammons, Quincy Acy, Salah Mejri, Dorian Finney-Smith, Jonathan Gibson
These semi-young vets have some potential, but for now, they are in the likely-to-not-make-it-three-years-with-a-team bucket (aka the majority of players).
Still around in 2020
Now, let’s cover the five players most likely to be in Dallas when we have our robo-lapdogs.
5. Seth Curry
As a 26-year old tweener guard who only really found NBA minutes last year, Curry has a profile similar to some of the fringe guys. However, I believe age, contract and talent lean in Curry’s favor. Demand for his primary skill (shooting the long ball) isn’t going away in today’s NBA and the Mavericks’ two-year, $6 million contract based on 40 games of production represents belief in his talent to grow. If he plays well, he should be able to secure a second deal that takes him to 2020 with Dallas.
4. Wesley Matthews
When in doubt, follow the money. Matthews became the highest-paid Maverick last year when he inked a four-year, $70 million deal. The catch is that his money expires in 2019, so Matthews needs an extension or a new deal to make it to 2020. A 33-year old then, Matthews is not like the others on this list. However, I do think the Mavericks value his grit, character and veteran leadership and can see him playing a role on the veteran-loving, potentially Dirk-less Mavericks. I expect Matthews to regain his shooting stroke this year as he gets away from his Achilles injury. As with Curry, the need for shooting will benefit Matthews and extend his shelf life by a few years.
3. Dwight Powell
Another follow-the-money guy, Powell inked a four-year, $38 million deal, becoming the most expensive resigning for the Mavericks outside of Dirk since Josh Howard and Jason Terry in 2006. The out-of-character Mavericks extension takes him to the 2020 season by default. At $9.5 million per year, it’s a salary that works well for a starter and is also acceptable for a solid backup, meaning there’s some value flexibility for the Mavericks. Also at just 25, he has room to grow and has the coveted “gym rat” label. I expect a big role for Powell this year as the primary big behind Dirk/Bogut.
2. Justin Anderson
Simba! Slightly ahead of Powell even though he doesn’t have the money, Anderson has a rookie contract, the NBA’s version of a value meal. He also has some competitive roster advantages on his side, including age (he’s just 22), two-way skills, and rebounding/defensive energy. A pretty solid bet to make it to 2020, the primary threat to Simba is external, as in trade offers.
1. Harrison Barnes
On paper, Barnes is the given. He’s got money (max contract to 2020), talent (lottery pick) and age (25) going for him. On paper, he’s checking the three boxes with an un-erasable marker laced with super glue. Barnes just needs to translate the paper to the court. If he doesn’t make it to 2020 as a Maverick, it’s likely something horrible happened, and we’ll be able to blame the machines.
See you in 2020.