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Roundtable: What could tempt the Mavericks to trade their first-round draft pick?

The Mavericks are almost certainly keeping their first-round pick, but the staff had a little fun considering some far-out trade scenarios.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

There is a very good chance that the Dallas Mavericks will end up with a top-five pick in this year’s draft after finishing the 2018 season tied for the third-best NBA Draft Lottery odds. Even though the idea of pairing another young highly touted prospect alongside Dennis Smith Jr. for the foreseeable future sounds amazing, nothing is guaranteed when it comes to drafting players. With that in mind, we asked our staff:

If the Mavs were to shake things up and consider trading their 2018 first round draft pick, what kind of package would justify that decision for you (if any)?

Kirk (@KirkSeriousFace): I don’t think there is a package that would do it for me. This statement may rankle some Mavs fans: the Mavericks are largely devoid of talent. I still believe in Dennis Smith Jr., but tabling him for a moment, Harrison Barnes, Dwight Powell, and the other younger guys on the roster have not shown superstar potential. What the Mavericks need at the moment is talent, plain and simple. There could be an argument for a package that includes trading back for multiple picks (the Clippers, for example), just because the Mavericks need volume of opportunity, too. But with their first and second round picks this year, it’s important that the Mavericks draft the best player available at both spots.

Jordan (@Jbrodess): The Mavericks are far from being taken seriously, and while it seems more likely (given Cuban’s impatience and track record in the draft) they’d trade lottery picks for players, that would most likely be a mistake. If I’m calling the shots, trading this pick would require a starting point of a proven young star. That means getting back an established player under 25 years old — and that’s a short list, maybe ten guys. And then maybe even a pick tacked on top of that.

All that’s to say, it would take a lot to pry this pick out of my hands. Because if I’m making this pick, it’s with the intention of hitting a homerun. The Mavericks need to lay a foundation for long term success. The idea of creating a competitive team for Dirk’s twilight is no longer a reality. So whatever it takes to build a squad that can be taken seriously three to five years from now must be priority. New Orleans is willing to give up Anthony Davis? Ok. Milwaukee gives in and parts with Giannis Antetokounmpo? I’m listening. Phoenix will send over Devin Booker? Sure. That has to be the threshold. In other words: I’m keeping the pick.

Dalton (@dalton_trigg): This is tricky, because I think the only way the Mavs could get a young superstar in return for their pick this year is if there’s a Kyrie Irving-like situation out there. The Kawhi Leonard situation with the Spurs comes to mind. It’s been a weird year for Leonard and the Spurs, and there’s rumors that Leonard may be at odds with San Antonio.

If that’s the case, and the Mavs are able to somehow muster up a deal to get it done, that would be pretty enticing for me. When healthy, Kawhi is probably one of the top-five players in the league. He’s a Finals MVP, and he’s still only 26 years old. I think Leonard could make the Mavs contenders again sooner rather than later. I don’t know that a trade of that magnitude would even be possible for the Mavs to pull off, but if it can be done, that’s the kind of trade I’d be ok with when it comes to Dallas parting with their top pick. If they can’t land a player of that caliber, then I would want them to hold on to this year’s pick in hopes of drafting a player that projects as a future start alongside Smith Jr.