Other than the significant buzz Dennis Smith Jr. has created with his explosive play in the Las Vegas Summer League, It’s been a fairly quiet offseason for the Dallas Mavericks. Dallas drafted drafted Smith Jr., signed back the ever-selfless franchise legend, Dirk Nowitzki, to a 2-year, $10-million deal and made a very "meh" trade with the Miami Heat that netted them Josh McRoberts’ expiring contract and a future 2nd rounder for A.J. Hammons.
Before free agency started, it was being reported that Nerlens Noel wasn’t just the Mavs biggest priority, but their "only priority." And yet, here we are, over halfway through July, and Noel still hasn’t signed a new deal with Dallas. Obviously, there’s no tension right now between Noel and the Mavs organization, as he went to Vegas to out with Rick Carlisle, Mark Cuban and others during Summer League.
So why no contract? Surely Noel and his agent realize that a max contract is long shot at this point, with other teams’ money drying up in this summer’s free agent market. One possible explanation for the holdup, as pointed out by dallasbasketball.com’s David Lord, is that maybe the Mavs still have some shuffling to do before having Noel officially put pen to paper.
That idea makes a lot of sense when you think about everything that’s happened up to this point. Cuban and the rest of the front office have always been strict about not letting information leak out before they’re ready. This is purely speculation, but for all we know, Noel could have already verbally agreed to a new deal, while allowing the Mavs pursue other roster opportunities before officially locking him in. Just for fun, let’s think out loud, who could the Mavs be targeting at this point? Which players would they be willing to ship off?
The Milwaukee Bucks’ Jabari Parker is a super fun idea to play around with. Being that Parker is only 22 years old, it it can be hard to believe the Bucks would give up on their young forward who averaged 20 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists per game in 2016 before suffering a torn ACL. But that second torn ACL is what makes this scenario so interesting and actually plausible.
A major injury history is exactly why the Mavs were able to snatch Noel (who was 22 at the time) away from the Philadelphia 76ers. Just like Noel last season, Parker will soon be a restricted free agent. On top of that, the Bucks currently have the 6th highest payroll in the NBA at $110 million. That includes Giannis Antetokounmpo at $25 million per year (4 years left), Kris Middleton at $13.3 million per year (3 years left), John Henson at $10.5 million per year (3 years left), Mirza Teletovic also at $10.5 million per year (2 years left) and Matthew Dellavedova at $9.6 million per year (3 years left).
Greg Monroe’s $17.8 million contract coming off the books next year helps Milwaukee out a little bit, but then you still have to ask the question, “Do the Bucks really want to commit big-time money to a guy who’s had two major injuries this early in his career?” You also have to factor in that Malcolm Brogdon, the 2017 NBA Rookie of the Year, figures to be a really good player for the Bucks going forward. All of these things are reasons I could see Milwaukee looking to move the injury-riddled forward before restricted free agency arrives next summer.
The next question would be what the Mavs would actually have to offer. Just like with the Noel trade back in January, ideally Dallas could pull off another heist of some sort with the proper maneuvering. The Mavs have a handful of players on their roster that currently have non-guaranteed contracts, like Nicolas Brussino, Dorian Finney-Smith and Salah Mejri. Could a team like the Bucks, who are currently $10 million over the salary cap, possibly want some relief going forward? Given Parker’s injury history, I just don’t believe they’re going to want to pay him the big bucks (pun intended). However, given his on-court production when healthy, I don’t think Dallas would get by this time by offering a fake first-round pick. A real first-rounder (maybe top-3, top-5 protected?) would probably need to be included to get a deal done.
Obviously, all of this is merely speculation, and there’s no real rumors out there saying the Mavs are in any kind of trade negotiations at this time, but it’s still interesting to think about, regardless. You can see how the pieces could be in place for Dallas to take advantage of other teams’ cap situations. There could be other opportunities out there for the Mavs in the coming weeks that don’t include the Bucks, but adding Jabari Parker to their already young, promising core would be another impressive feat for a front office that has seemingly pushed all the right buttons in putting together this 12-month rebuild.
in the past 12 months, Mavs added— Tim Cato (@tim_cato) June 23, 2017
- Dennis Smith (19)
- Nerlens (23)
- Yogi (24)
- Finney-Smith (24)
- Harry B (25)
- Seth Curry (26)
I’m in for another unexpected addition of young talent, aren’t you?