I’m going to be honest with you....
I am not a Dallas Mavericks fan.
However, as a result of being married to Rebecca, I do watch a lot of Mavericks basketball. And, as an NBA junkie for as long as I can remember, I have been enthralled with the Luka Doncic show this season and have spent as much time as any other Mavericks fan dreaming about what the future may hold for him.
This, somehow, brings me to some unrealistic Dennis Smith Jr. trade ideas.
How did we get here?
It appears that the Mavericks have netted themselves a generational talent in this year’s draft in Luka Doncic. That’s great news! Twenty years ago, that would’ve all but guaranteed that Luka was going to spend his entire career playing in Dallas and competing for championship rings (a la Dirk).
Josh Bowe wrote about Marc Stein’s report that the Mavericks may be gauging trade interest in Smith, and as they should! These days, free agency is a bit less predictable. The league’s most popular players make more money off of endorsement deals than they do from their NBA paycheck and legacy means everything, which means championships mean everything (except for money, which also means everything).
If you want to know why the Mavericks might be shopping Dennis Smith Jr., you need to go back to Kevin Durant leaving Oklahoma City to sign with the Golden State Warriors. Or, maybe even further, to LeBron James leaving Cleveland to sign with the Miami Heat.
The message that the Dallas front office appears to be hearing is this one: build a great team, contend right away (so as to not waste any of Luka’s years), make no doubt who is the most important player for the franchise, make sure every player can play well with Luka, and hope that Nike doesn’t try and entice Doncic to a top-4 market.
Let’s get weird
The Dallas Mavericks have some very tradable assets! Let’s take a look at them:
- Dennis Smith Jr., 20-year old all-around PG that has All-Star potential. Under team contract until 2022.
- Wesley Matthews, two-way wing known for his toughness. Shooting over 40 percent from 3pt this season. Expiring contract.
- DeAndre Jordan, 30-year old, 2x All-Defensive First Team center. Eliminated the biggest weakness in his game (FT%). Expiring contract.
Say what you want about DeAndre’s hustle this season, there are going to be some GMs around the league that think he’s half-assing it until the second half of the season begins. 22,000 minutes played by age 30 is no joke, and there’s some reason to believe that he’ll be a better player than he has been come March.
Anyway, if we wanted to get nuts with some Dennis Smith Jr. deals, why not see what we could do with a mega-package?
The Grizzlies Deal
Look, I warned you it was going to get weird.
Why would Memphis do this? Pretty simply, this is a reset button on their franchise. Jaren Jackson Jr. and Dennis Smith Jr. become their new centerpieces to build around for the next ten years. With the Grizzlies on the outside looking in on the playoffs right now, that might be pretty tempting.
Oh, and they get out of the Chandler Parsons deal.
Why would Dallas do this? Mike Conley is a better (albeit, not perfect) fit next to Luka, and is a great potential mentor for the kid. Marc Gasol is an upgrade over DeAndre and keeps the window open for a playoff run an extra year.
Just using the most basic understanding of the NBA, it’d be pretty easy to argue that a team with Conley, Luka, Gasol, and Dirk on it could make it to the playoffs (barring injury) in either conference.
The win-win-win would be if the Mavericks training staff and coaching staff could figure out a way to get Parsons healthy and on the court for 10-15 minutes a game, but you have to be prepared for that sunk cost to be a part of the deal.
Added caveat here is that the Hornets would send a 1st round pick to New Orleans and Dallas would send every pick they legally can to the Pelicans, as well.
Why would Charlotte do this? They get off the Nic Batum contract that they despise for the price of a 1st round pick, and get back two solid players that can help them make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference and convince Kemba Walker to stick around (maybe).
Why would New Orleans do this? They absolutely would not. But, if they know Anthony Davis is going to turn down the max offer and test free agency, “The Brow” will become available via trade. Getting DeAndre to pair with Nikola Mirotić, Julius Randle and Jrue Holiday might keep the Pelicans afloat in contention or might just give them another trade chip for rebuilding. This only really works if the Lakers decide to play hardball with the Pelicans front office. (Also, if the Pelicans want picks, they can wait until July and get four 1st rounders from Boston.)
Why would Dallas do this?
The Warriors Deal
Before you roll your eyes, look at this tweet:
Warriors are 8-8 on the road this season, have been blown out at home by 20 by the Raptors, 23 by the Bucks, 28 by the Thunder and whatever this Lakers blowout ends up at. Currently 7th in the NBA in net rating, worse than the Pacers.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) December 26, 2018
Is GSW going to figure it out before the playoffs? Probably, but there certainly appears to be some sort of issue with them. If nothing else, Draymond Green looks like a guy that doesn’t really want to be there anymore.
Why would Golden State do this? They wouldn’t. I told you these deals were unrealistic! But, if they thought Draymond was the problem and they were getting nervous about Klay Thompson not re-signing this offseason, this would be one avenue to go down. DeAndre takes Draymond’s role with the Warriors, Wes tries to fill Klay’s shoes (Klay’s only shooting 33 percent from 3pt this year) for the rest of this season, and GSW goes with Steph Curry and Dennis Smith Jr. as their new backcourt while trying to retain Kevin Durant and/or DeMarcus Cousins.
I want to state this again: Golden State would not do this deal. Even if they wanted to, on paper, they are not going to give away two of their original “big three” right before opening up a new arena in San Francisco unless Draymond implodes their season somehow.
Why would Dallas do this? In hopes that Draymond takes over the role as Dallas’ defensive leader and Klay Thompson is interested in money (the Mavericks would be able to offer him more than any other team).
Less crazy trade ideas
The Knicks Deal
Why would New York do this? They can get out of the Tim Hardaway Jr. contract (freeing up even more space to go after Durant) and upgrade their PG position with Dennis Smith Jr. Based on the fact that Ntilikina can’t even seem to get on the floor lately, the Knicks would be dying to do this one.
Why would Dallas do this? Frank Ntilikina is a better fit next to Luka because he doesn’t need the ball in his hands and can be the defensive stopper in the backcourt. However, I think New York would need to add a 1st round pick into this one (sorry, the Trade Machine doesn’t let me do that) to balance it out. Also, probably doesn’t make the Mavericks better this year.
The Suns Deal
Why would Phoenix/Dallas do this? This is just a swap of fits. Mikal Bridges is the 3-and-D forward that the Mavericks crave and Dennis Smith Jr. is the point guard that the Suns need.
I’m sure there are other, better, trade ideas out there. These are just ones I was able to find in a morning on the Trade Machine. Feel free to do your own digging and put your own crazy (or more realistic) Dennis Smith Jr. trade ideas in the comments!