Yesterday, our own Josh Boweman wrote that the Mavs should not, under any circumstances, chase Kyle Lowry, because it will end in disaster like every other time Dallas has chased a big free agent since 2011. He makes a good point, but I had a different reaction.
Because Kyle Lowry would be an insanely good fit here. He’s basically the perfect point guard to run Rick Carlisle’s flow offense, and he fits in nicely as a stopgap veteran leader alongside Dirk Nowitzki AND as part of the younger core of Harrison Barnes and Nerlens Noel. Assuming continued growth from Seth Curry, Noel, and maybe even Barnes, the biggest, most glaring need for this team is a star-level point guard to direct everything. There’s a reason everyone is connecting the Mavs to a point guard in the draft.
Twenty-two points and seven assists per game. Forty-one percent from beyond the arc on eight attempts per game. A true shooting percentage of 62 (SIXTY TWO!) last season.
If you’re going to chase a guy, this is the guy you chase. Someone who is not just a big name or a good player, but someone who is a perfect fit for your team and instantly bumps your team up a tier.
And do I even have to point out that, at 6-feet-tall, Lowry fits perfectly into the Mavs’ apparent “we love short point guards, let’s sign all of them” philosophy?
But here’s where I begin with the caveats. Because (gasp) I agree with Josh, to an extent. If the Mavs are given every indication that Lowry has no intention of coming to Dallas, of course they shouldn’t waste their time. But even entertaining the notion of pursuing Lowry could create complications. For example, if the Mavericks fully intend to chase Lowry, maybe it complicates their draft assessment. Dallas has the best pick it’s had in years, and you really want them to nail it. There’s a strong desire among the fanbase for Dallas to pick its point guard of the future in Dennis Smith, De’Aaron Fox, or Frank Ntilikina. However, if you do land Lowry, wouldn’t you rather Dallas have drafted a wing scorer like Malik Monk or Jason Tatum? I am already skeptical of the Mavericks’ draft-day decision making, and I’d hate to make that calculus even more complex for them.
On top of that, can the Mavs afford him? We know they’re going to throw a huge contract at Nerlens Noel, and they’ve already got Barnes, Dirk, and Wesley Matthews on big-money deals. Lowry will almost certainly require the max. However, with a rotation stocked with affordable, diamond-in-the-rough undrafted free agents like Yogi Ferrell, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Nicolas Brussino, maybe they can afford to allocate the majority of their cap to four guys, at least for a year or two.
The final “big if” is whether Lowry will even leave Toronto. To me, the question is less about what Lowry wants and more about what Toronto does. After going all in with two big midseason trades, the Raptors were tossed aside by Cleveland like a ragdoll. In addition to facing the fact that they’ve probably hit their ceiling at “Cavaliers’ punching bag,” they also have to make a decision about whether to go into the luxury tax to re-sign Lowry and new acquisition Serge Ibaka. I think the most likely scenario is that Toronto wants to keep Lowry and pay him all the money he wants, but what if they don’t?
To me, that’s the scenario in which the Mavs have an opening. If Toronto has the advantage of offering the biggest, longest contract (and wants to do so), that’s going to be hard for Lowry to ignore. If not, I think the Mavs can make as good a pitch as anyone else who can offer max money.
Lowry’s on record saying that he wants rings. Rumors are he would consider going West. As I see it, the only way he has a shot in hell while also signing a near-max deal would be if he goes to San Antonio. No one else is challenging the Warriors in the West or the Cavs in the East. Sorry, that’s the way it is for the next couple of years.
So look... I think the Mavs have a shot, IF Toronto doesn’t want to re-sign Lowry for big money AND IF the Spurs don’t want to throw a max deal his way. What other team has an insanely good coach, an owner willing to spend, a 20-point scorer on the wing/in the post, and a dynamo young talent in the middle AND is (maybe) a star-quality point guard away from being a player for a high-ish seed in the playoffs?
Yes, fine, I admit it—this sounds like something of a pipe dream. But it’s less of one than, say, Mike Conley or Hassan Whiteside. There’s a weird set of circumstances surrounding Toronto and Lowry that could play out to the Mavs’ advantage. They’d be idiots not to do their due diligence.
And if it blows up in their faces like every other free agent pursuit... so what? As long as Dallas’ free agency dreams don’t interfere with drafting the right guy in June, I don’t really think this offseason is going to make or break anything. They may as well use this period of Warriors dominance to think long-term and put together the foundation for a team that can compete in two to four years. Would another fun but uncompetitive year be the worst thing? What other options are there?
So go ahead, Mavs. Chase Kyle Lowry. We all know you want to.
Disagree with this article? Think the Mavericks should give up on chasing stars? Check out the rebuttal here.