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The Mavericks’ free agent targets and the Lakers’ overhyped rookies

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In this edition of Moneyball Mailbag, we answer questions about Dallas’ free agent prospects, rookie hype, and Dennis Rodman.

Los Angeles Lakers v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

*Click here to listen to the Mailbag Episode of the Locked On Mavs Podcast

We took your questions about the Mavericks’ potential free agent targets, overhyped rookies, the surprisingly comparable histories of the Mavericks and the Knicks and more.

As always these are actual real questions from real people who are not twitter bots... we think.

[Who are some] realistic free agents [Dallas could pursue] in the off-season?
- Osuu (@OsuuKing)

Well aren’t we just getting ahead of ourselves? Maybe not. All signs point toward the Mavericks maintaining their cap space for the free agent class next summer. They didn’t really approach anyone this summer and even traded A.J. Hammons for an expiring contract (Josh McRoberts) for the sole purpose of shedding more money going forward. So, who are these players that have caused the Mavs to clear and maintain all of this space?

There are big names like DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Durant, and Chris Paul who will most likely get offers from the Mavericks (especially Boogie). But there are also more realistic targets that could become more interesting as the season goes on.

Patrick McCaw (Restricted Free Agent)

Dallas capitalized the last time the Warriors couldn’t pay for a young wing, why not try and take advantage of the opportunity again?

Seth Curry (Unrestricted Free Agent)

It’s boring, but Curry will be a free agent and who knows how much money he’ll demand?

Mario Hezonja (UFA)

Hezonja is a fun-ish reclamation project the Mavericks could take a flyer on. He recently had a 17 point, nine rebound, four assist outing (all season highs).

Julius Randle (RFA), Jabari Parker (RFA), and Aaron Gordon (RFA)

These are the three names that the Mavericks should focus on, but they all have their flaws. Gordon might price himself out free agency, especially since none of the Magic’s other prospects have shown high upside. Parker only played 25, 76, and 51 games in his first three years and still hasn’t played this season due to injuries. Then there’s Randle, who might have the least upside of the three and could very well be traded before the end of this season.

All are interesting free agent prospects for the Mavericks to look at should they miss out on DeMarcus Cousins (if that’s what they do).

Does every fanbase overhype their rookies as much as Dallas does? I gotta honestly ask, aside from highlight dunks, what’s been impressive? [Dennis Smith Jr.’s] shooting, decision making, and defense are all not just bad, but objectively horrible. On top of that, he’s injury prone already.
- Brian (@pdx_mavs)

There is no fanbase that hypes their rookies more than Los Angeles Lakers fans. Every prospect for them is a “potential rotation piece” and the emergence of Kyle Kuzma this season has only made them stronger.

What makes Dennis Smith Jr. impressive (other than the dunks) is his poise. Dennis doesn’t back down from anything. He was thrust into a situation where he was declared the starter from day one next to an NBA god—that’s intimidating. Also, players on the court are just better with him. Wes Matthews shoots 41.8 percent from three when he plays with Dennis and 36.1 percent from three when he plays without him. Dirk Nowitzki also has a 61.2 percent true shooting percentage when he plays with Dennis and 51.6 percent without him. Those are pretty big differences for two veteran sharp shooters.

Does Carlisle give any thought to improving a player's trade value if he doesn't like the player? Like, play a guy so he can get rid of him and get a better piece?
- Chris Woodrow (@FormingWorship)

In short, no.

Nerlens Noel is the perfect example of this. In the first 11 games of the season, Noel played 18.2 minutes per game and started six of those games. Since then, he has only played in seven of the Mavs’ last 16 games and only 3.6 minutes per game. Last year, Justin Anderson began the year averaging 17.7 minutes per game over 32 games. Then, in the last 22 games before he was traded, he averaged 7.6 minutes per game and was held out of three of them.

Which Dennis Rodman power level do you want?
- James (@Venom024024)

James wins the award for most random question I’ve ever received (he initially asked a different questions but it evolved into this much better one). The options are:

  • Bulls Dennis Rodman: prime player, prime crazy
  • Mavericks Dennis Rodman: washed-up player, still crazy
  • Current Dennis Rodman: retired player, Ambassador to North Korea

There’s no way I could keep up with Bulls Rodman. Mavs Rodman might have been over it enough to actually tell me things about himself and Michael Jordan. But Current Rodman IS BEST FRIENDS WITH KIM JONG-UN.

Winner: Current Rodman.

With the Mavs going 1-15 in clutch time I have had some thoughts: 1) The team is actually tanking (mostly a joke). 2) If our veterans aren't helping us win these close games then play our young guys (ie Motley, DSJ) and win or lose with them. Thoughts?- Jack (@JAB_Brittain)

  1. The Mavs are not tanking (yet).
  2. #FreeTheMot

Who's been more relevant in the past 30 years, the Mavs or the Knicks? If you're going by just wins, MVPs, finals appearances and championships, the Mavs win every time.
- Tiambengo (@tiambengo)

This question seemed to have an obvious answer (Mavericks) but that’s mostly because my NBA consciousness spans the latter half of that 30 years. So let’s look at the Mavericks vs the Knicks accomplishments since 1989.

All-Stars

Mavericks: 22
Knicks: 24

Total Regular Season Wins

Mavericks: 1256 (13th Most)
Knicks: 1213 (16th Most)

Playoff Streak

Mavericks: 12 years (2001-2012)
Knicks: 14 years (1989-2001)

Titles (Finals Appearances)

Mavericks: 1 (2)
Knicks: 0 (2)

These two teams are actually closer than I originally expected. The Mavericks’ run with Dirk Nowitzki is eerily similar to the Knicks’ run with Patrick Ewing, but the 2011 title and Dirk’s resume make the Mavericks more relevant over the last 30 years from a basketball perspective.

Thanks everyone for all your questions!