1. For the Dallas Mavericks, the offseason is a grocery store and you’re the kid tagging along with your mom. You enter a world of opportunity; anything you can be yours, and you imagine the treats you’ll be coming home with. Maybe you’re six, and you still don’t quite understand credit cards and still think it’s just free money like I did for an embarrassingly long amount of time. Maybe you’re nine now, and you’ve been to the store a few times, but you’re still hopeful this time mom’s gonna let you pick something off the end cap that you’ve been wanting to buy all week. Maybe she’s gonna let you buy Cinnamon Toast Crunch, not that trash-ass store brand that more closely resembles cinnamon-sprinkled cardboard flakes and is such a poor status symbol that you hide the box deep inside the pantry when your friends visit to make sure they don’t see it and make fun of you for not having the real thing. Maybe you’re 13 and this trip is miserable, because you know mom’s gonna deflect every request with “maybe next time.”
Five years of that, and it almost seems like this is how every summer has to begin and end for the Mavericks. But this offseason won’t be anything like that. In fact, this offseason will be the most uneventful one for the Mavericks in nearly a decade.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Dallas could force themselves into the trade market for a Paul George or Jimmy Butler, but only if you believe either will actually be dealt. They could push for Kristaps Porzingis, but the only reason I even feel comfortable suggesting something that would get me branded as a heretic by the Posting & Toasting crew is because I have stopped trying to predict the Knicks. (That said, New York isn’t going to trade Porzingis; even medieval tyrants knew not to drive their vassals into rebellion.)
Ideally, the Mavericks have more ability to trade than any season past, but I don’t see a viable option for it to happen. Do you really want Ricky Rubio or Eric Bledsoe that badly?
2. That doesn’t exclude a busy offseason full of chatter, which has reached an all-time peak thanks to the way multiple layers of fake rumor aggregation can trick even verified, (somewhat) repudiated websites. In particular, Seth Curry’s name will come up in half-a-dozen trade proposals, and he survives them all. Curry is still a year or so shy of his prime, played fantastically for Dallas, and barely makes anything. (Trade rumors will likely match him with Wesley Matthews or even Harrison Barnes to make them cap feasible.) It also helps that he bears the Curry family name. But I don’t think those deals get done this offseason. There’s too much at stake without receiving a true star in return.
3. What these Mavericks really can be is in question and hinges particularly on Nerlens Noel and something that his 20-some games here post-deadline can’t answer yet. Noel will re-sign this summer, of course, but the bold prediction here is that it may take some time. The Mavericks don’t want to give him a max deal, even though he will likely end up closer to that figure than you think, and they have his restricted free agency rights as leverage. As a last resort, they would match anyone who gave him a deal; the reality is, the other 29 teams know he won’t be going anywhere. The Mavericks see him as a franchise centerpiece, one that must be even more important than Barnes or the incoming lottery pick. Scorers, god bless them, aren’t even comparable to the commodity that is an athletic center capable of thriving within the switching and scrambling that modern defenses demand. If the two sides don’t reach an agreement until mid-July, don’t be fooled into thinking their mindset has changed.
4. Between Matthews’ $18 million and Dwight Powell’s $9 million, the Mavericks have less leverage than you would prefer. It’s one reason why those trade rumors mentioned above will swirl, because getting another team to eat a contract like that and pairing them with an asset would benefit the team. But one thing that will help Dallas is Dirk Nowitzki declining his player option and re-signing for another similar, but cheaper, one-plus-one deal. I don’t expect Nowitzki to play for $2 million; perhaps it will be $20 million. But put his current $25 million in very light shades of pencil on your accounting book.
Nowitzki also likes having an extra year as motivation to keep playing. If he approached next summer as a free agent, he might inadvertently draw something akin to a retirement tour despite his desire to avoid it. Adding a player option that can easily be declined but still gives him the appearance of returning, should he indeed decide to retire, is a good situation for the spotlight-adverse superstar.
5-7. That money Nowitzki generously forfeits will go to a reliable veteran point guard, because the point guard the Mavericks draft — Dennis Smith, Jr., if he falls, or Frank Ntilikina — won’t fit the immediate, short-term plan of making the playoffs this season. They’ll need another veteran, since the team will decline Devin Harris’ team option. (He’s more of a two-guard, and they don’t need more players there.) Wow, that’s three predictions in about two sentences, which is remarkable efficiency. Someone calculate my true shooting percentage, please.
If you want to send me an email disagreeing, here are some counterpoints you can use.
- There’s no way Smith falls to No. 9, because he’ll show his athleticism at the combine, make people forget about his horrible freshman year at NC State, and rocket right back up draft boards. You’re an idiot, Tim. KISS THE RING.
- Literally nobody knows whether Frank Ntilikina is even a real NBA player, and if he is, it won’t happen for several years. The Mavericks have a bunch of young players who are beginning to reach their prime, and they can’t wait that long. I can’t believe you would suggest something that was so obviously fake news, Tim.
- They’re totally trading the draft pick. They always do. Go waste somebody else’s time with this idiot blog post, Tim.
- Why would they sign a veteran point guard when they could just pick up Harris’ contract? I bet you’ve never competed in anything in your life, Tim, you dimwit.
Feel free to copy and paste those if you want to yell at me. Preferably, pick one at a time, or your email will make me feel a bit overwhelmed.
They’re all valid points, and truthfully, who knows? These are bold predictions from someone — me — who doesn’t claim to have inside-the-room knowledge of what Dallas is planning. I’ve heard a couple things that informed my predictions, but that’s what these are, just predictions, not reporting.
On the other hand, I have been blogging about the Mavericks for seven years, watching them longer than that, and once even convinced Rick Carlisle to play a rookie, which is supposed to impossible. (That last claim is incredibly dubious if you understand Carlisle’s sarcasm, but it sounds good.) Thus, every word I wrote here must be accurate, and I can only apologize for spoiling the Mavericks offseason for you, because now you know exactly what will happen.