That super crazy time of the NBA season is almost upon us. We are officially less than a month away from the NBA trade deadline. So far, things have been pretty quiet on the Dallas Mavericks front, but that could definitely change as we draw closer to February 8. The Mavericks have some flexibility right now and could go in many different directions, or they could just stay right where they're at. We asked our staff:
Given what the Mavs have shown us halfway through the season, what kind of deals (if any) should they be looking to pull off before the February 8 trade deadline? Is there a particular player out there that you’d like to see the Mavs make an offer for?
Doyle (@TheKobeBeef): There are plenty of deals the Mavericks could look to make given the quality play of their veterans. Any contender looking to add bench depth is likely frothing at the mouth thinking about the idea of adding someone like J.J. Barea or Devin Harris. Heck, some teams are also willing to take a chance on Nerlens Noel, who looks to be the most unloadable asset the Mavs have. Given all of that, however, it would be surprising if Dallas makes a move at all after the deadline.
This probably isn’t what fans want to see but, right now, it appears to be the reality. When you consider the players that can be unloaded, you have to consider their value to the franchise and any potential value the team gets in return. To put it mildly, the Mavericks are risk averse. They won’t look to make a move just to make a move unless they get proven talent in return. Shipping off Barea, Harris, or whomever for a second-round pick and a young bench player is highly unlikely.
Beyond that, the Mavericks are trying to win games. You can think what ever you want about what they should be doing but the fact is, they want to win. Keeping their veteran core intact gives them the best chance to win games. The “Energizer Bunny” unit of Barea, Yogi Ferrell, Harris, Dirk Nowitzki, and Dwight Powell is one of the best in the league. It’s the reason the team is as competitive as it is most nights. When the goal is to win, there’s no reason to jeopardize something that’s successful.
All this being said, if there is one player that I can see being moved, it’s Noel. He’s out of the rotation and now recovering from surgery. There’s not a future for him in Dallas. Since he’s on a one-year qualifying offer, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer. That means if the Mavs want any kind of return on their investment, they’ll have to look to trade him. They might not find many suitors, though. Noel gambled on himself and lost last summer, and his play this season is less than inspiring. Nonetheless, he’s a young big man and someone might take a chance on him while he’s still on a cheap deal. But again, the Mavs will want something of value in return. They won’t just dump him.
In the end, I expect things to be quiet on the trade front. Dallas isn’t Boston so it won’t make a lot of rumor noise either. The Mavericks are likely going to play out the season with the team they have now. I’m sure there will be some more players called up on two-way contracts and that will be the biggest moves the team makes. The Mavs show stubborn loyalty to their veteran core and to winning culture. They may not win much this season, but they’re damn sure going to compete night in and night out. And they’re going to do it with the players they already have.
John (@JohnHowe_NBA): Things should be quiet for Dallas, but an interesting note is the cap situation. At $85.5 million this year, the Mavericks are 29th in payroll. During my time following the league, they have rarely been outside the top five.
With an owner who will pay to ensure the right winning team is created, I think we should watch for the possibility that Dallas takes on some dump salary if the attached asset is enticing enough. For a deeper look, be on the lookout for our trade deadline primer in a couple weeks!
Dalton (@dalton_trigg): Nobody really expects the Mavs to do much between now and the trade deadline, but it really just comes down to what kind of offers come their way. I don’t think the front office’s mindset is “we must make a trade,” but they’ll hopefully be as opportunistic as possible.
Dallas has a lot of flexibility right now in regards to cap space. They are currently projected to be one of only five teams with cap space this offseason (although some other teams could potentially make room), an offseason that has been called a potential “nuclear winter” for free agents. The other four teams are the Hawks, Pacers, Bulls and Lakers. So the Mavs could potentially make themselves a real player in free agency this summer, or they could use that cap space to take on other team’s salary dumps with other assets attached.
I don’t think there’s a right answer to what the Mavs should do. Anything they do to increase the talent level of the roster will be a win. I’d be ok with doing a deal with the Lakers, swapping Nerlens Noel for Julius Randle, as long as the Mavs stay far away from Luol Deng. The idea of Jabari Parker also intrigues me. I think it’s probably a shot in the dark, but he and the Bucks are in a weird situation right now. Parker will be a restricted free agent this summer, and you have to wonder if the Bucks are willing to pay him big money after suffering two ACL tears in his career already.
Last season, we barely heard any trade rumors involving the Mavs, then all of a sudden, there they were making a deal with the 76ers for Noel. I don’t know if they’ll make a trade or not, but typically where there’s smoke, there’s fire, so if Julius Randle ends up being a Maverick, I wouldn’t be surprised at all. We’ll know something for sure in about four weeks.
Jordan (@Jbrodess): The kind of deals they should be looking to make involve players that fit the DSJ timeline. Whether they are younger projects, or assets that can be used later, with regards to the rebuild. Even though the Noel situation unraveled quickly, that move was exactly the sort of thing this front office should be looking for.
But I also don’t expect a move to be made. There are a number of factors why: the front office’s desire to have as much cap space as possible this summer, the value they place on their tradeable assets, and a very strong allegiance to those vets that could be on the open market. The most tradeable of those vets are Devin Harris and Salah Mejri, because of their expiring deals (Barea still has a year left, Matthews is making too much money, and I don’t know who would want McRoberts). But Harris is a Mavs darling, and Mejri is one of the few rim protectors on this team. And the Mavs simply want the culture that being “competitive” brings. So they will continue being the best they can be. Even if that’s still mediocre.
As for the players I’d like to see them look at, I’m not sure any need to be acquired by the deadline. Most off the top of my head will be restricted free agents this summer,so the Mavs can practice patience if they don’t like the idea of giving up one of their vets. It’s the same names you’ve seen before: Aaron Gordon (Magic can match), Jabari Parker (Bucks can match, though his health makes me a little nervous), or Julius Randle (Lakers can match, also his ceiling is higher but his numbers are very similar to Dwight Powell). Mario Hezonja is another name that I think is worth a flyer. Like I mentioned in this week’s Prospect Watch, the Mavericks desperately need wings, and there aren’t many free agent options this summer in that area that match the Mavericks timeline. So whatever they need to do to acquire some multi-position wings must be top priority.