Free agency is a word that inspires terror in the hearts of Mavericks fans. Few teams have swung and missed as hard as the Mavericks in recent offseasons.
This could be the year the Mavs front office changes that perception. Dallas has a lot of cap room to spend on young core pieces this summer.
While more competitive teams will spend their time courting big names like LeBron James and Paul George, the Mavericks can go throw big money at a young player that fits their system.
Best case scenario
First things first: Dallas needs a starting center. When asked about next year’s starting center on draft night, Rick Carlisle said “July 1st is right around the corner, bro.” (Yes he actually said bro.) The Mavericks ideally need a rim-running center who doubles as an elite rim protector and, if we’re being picky, is under 25.
Hey there Clint Capela. When the clock strikes midnight on July 1st the Mavericks should immediately throw a max offer sheet at Capela and hope the Rockets decide not to match.
Capela would fit perfectly in Carlisle’s offense and bring the paint protection Dallas desperately needs. He’s only 24 and would grow into his prime alongside Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic.
In today’s NBA, no team can have enough wings, and the Mavericks only have three under contract for next season. Dallas should do their best to find a young wing to build with — Jerami Grant, Mario Hezonja or bringing back Doug McDermott are all options they could explore.
Worst case scenario
Mark Cuban has loudly proclaimed that the Mavs want to make a playoff run in 2018-19, but rushing out of a rebuild can bomb a franchise for years to come.
It’s entirely possible Dallas tries too hard to make the playoffs in what might be Dirk’s final season. Reports have linked the Mavericks to recently injured DeMarcus Cousins, which could spell disaster if he can’t come back and be the same player he was before his Achilles injury.
In order to sign Cousins, Dallas would have to dish out hella cash. If Cousins never fully returns to his previous form, or if he can barely stay on the floor, the Mavs will be handicapped by his contract for years to come. They’ll be unable to add key free agents in the future when Smith and Doncic enter their prime. The same scenario could happen if Dallas makes a big play for Jabari Parker; plus it would prevent them from signing a center like Capela or DeAndre Jordan.
Donnie Nelson and company restored fans’ confidence with the trade for Doncic, and for this free agency period the Mavericks are playing with house money. They don’t need to take a risk on Boogie Cousins or another too obvious big name type of player.
Can Dallas’ front office learn from past free agency mistakes? There’s always the chance the Mavs undermine the work they did in getting Doncic by signing an albatross contract this July, but for now, fans can be cautiously excited.