The Mavericks finally made a move this summer! Except instead of bringing someone in, they actually let someone go.
Dallas waived Nicolas Brussino on Thursday, the day the Mavs had to decide whether to guarantee his salary for the upcoming season. That means Dallas has an open roster spot to either grab someone off their summer league team or maybe snag a cheaper veteran.
There are still some intriguing free agent names out there that would fit the Mavs, but the Mavs have made it loud and clear they aren’t spending money before the season starts. So go ahead and cross off the names of dudes who want multi-year deals like Nikola Mirotic or JaMychal Green, despite how nicely they’d fit in Dallas.
Here are five guys that are realistic possibilities:
Brandon Ashley, PF
Ashley has been with the Texas Legends the last couple of years, and he got a good showcase in Vegas this month. He started every game, averaged a little over 11 points per game and shot very well from deep.
He’s intriguing because he theoretically fills the role the Mavs desperately want Dwight Powell to fill — a stretch four/small ball five off the bench. Ashley doesn’t have Powell’s dominance as a rim runner, but he showed a nice touch around the basket in Vegas and obviously the jumper was the standout. I’m not convinced Ashley can be the sole big on the floor in any NBA lineup because of his lack of defense and rebounding, but as an end-of-the-bench flyer, you could do worse, especially if the Mavs ever decide they want to get off of Powell’s contract. If the Mavs were okay on the wing, Ashley would make sense, but with Nerlens Noel, Dirk Nowitzki, Powell, Salah Mejri and then Harrison Barnes all taking minutes at the four and five, I’m not sure Ashley is the wisest use of the vacant spot. His summer league play earned him the first look, however.
Ding Yanyuhang, SF
There always seems to be a folk hero crop up every summer, and Ding was it this year. Every time Ding touched the ball, the Vegas crowd roared with approval. If he made any sort of basketball play, it got even louder (and I mean any play — even tapping out a rebound to a teammate).
Ding does flash some nice skill and upside at 23-years-old. He’s got good size on the wing at 6’7 and flashed a decent jumper. I’m not sure entirely what else his skill set is right now, as NBA competition is a big jump up from the Chinese leagues. Then there’s the fact that Ding would be turning down millions to play in the NBA. According to reports, endorsement deals pushed a salary of just over $1 million per year in the Chinese Basketball Association up to around $7 million.
If Ding wants to take a pay cut for a shot at the NBA, he wouldn’t be a terrible choice. I’m not sure how much he offers over Brussino though.
Ian Clark, SG
Poor Clark. Knowing the Warriors were going to be in cap hell soon by maxing out their core, Clark figured he was due to earn a big pay day elsewhere after playing well in the Warriors’ death machine. After all, last year an exploding salary cap led to even some of the scrubbiest vets getting huge deals.
Well, so much for that. The cap being lower than expected this summer squeezed out dudes like Clark who were hoping for a huge payday. While Clark is a little small to play at the wing, which the Mavs really need, he has enough skill offensively to be a nice fit in Rick Carlisle’s spread pick and roll attack.
He’s a good shooter from deep and a decent creator of his own shot. Defensively, he was definitely bailed out by the Warriors’ greatness, so it remains to be seen how much he could hold up on that end on another team. While he’s not as good as Seth Curry, he’d be a decent insurance policy if Curry’s price tag gets too high next summer. Clark has good enough skill to get a good contract, so maybe he’d be willing to take a small 1-year offer in Dallas to bump up his value some more.
Shabazz Muhammad, SF
At a glance, Muhammad looks okay. Good scoring numbers off the bench, good size for a wing and a good college and draft pedigree. Then you look closer, and you realize he’s sort of just a taller O.J. Mayo.
What does Muhammad do well? He’s not a great shooter from deep (career 32.3 percent from three), he isn’t a big passer (career mark of 1.6 assists per 100 possessions, less than Barnes) nor is he a good defender (Minnesota has always been better when he’s off the floor). So why even take a gamble?
Well for one, the Mavs just need some bodies at the wing. Barnes will start at the three, but will slide into the four a lot as the Mavs manage Dirk’s minutes. After Barnes, Dorian Finney-Smith is the only true wing left on the roster, with nothing else but a gaggle of guards that are terribly over-matched at the three. Dallas needs some size on the perimeter badly.
Muhammad also has enough offensive skill that maybe Carlisle can redeem him a bit, much like the Mavs did with wayward youngsters like Brandan Wright and Al-Farouq Aminu. If anything, the Mavs could use a microwave scorer off the bench (in addition to Seth Curry of course). Muhammad wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world on a 1-year deal to try and rehabilitate his image.
Carrick Felix, SG/SF
At this point the well is getting really dry. There aren’t a lot of other veteran forwards and guards available that make sense for Dallas, so let’s go back to picking off their Vegas summer league team.
Felix didn’t get a ton of burn (just 16.5 minutes per game) but he showed enough athleticism and defense that I think he’d be a nice emergency wing. I have no idea what else Felix brings to the table, but he did do this.
Hell, I can’t be mad if the Mavs use the last spot on the roster for a dude that can do that.