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Mavs Mailbag: playoff hopes, trade scenarios, and Salah Mejri is an All Star

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It’s 2019 and we still have questions that need to be answered for this Mavericks squad.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks-Media Day Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

We’re inching closer and closer to the season’s halfway mark (and even closer to the trade deadline and all-star break). The Mavericks are hovering outside that final playoff spot in the west, but are also scrambling to string together wins.

We’re here to dive in to your questions, the heavy hitters and a few easy lobs, while we try to sort out what this Mavericks squad is all about. Let’s go!

@danspeak_: For someone who has only seen 2 or 3 games, can you please give us a TLDR if the season so far?

Let me first say, Dan, on behalf of the MMB staff how much we miss your Aussie wit and charm. We’re infinitely more boring now.

The long and short of this season Dan, is the Mavericks decided to forget how to play basketball in October after they returned from China, only to turn around and be one of the best teams in the league in November. And now the Mavericks need to figure out how to win away from Dallas. But all of this pales in comparison to how massive a gift it’s been to watch Luka Doncic grace our eyeballs with fun basketball.

@redditmavericks: Can I fight Brice?

I can confidently break this story with an exclusive quote, direct from the source: “Yes you can fight me”, said Brice. Best of luck.

@J3Wheeler: Would you rather the Mavs make the 8 seed and give Dirk/Luka & co. a shot at the Warriors/Rockets (or someone else super strong), or would you rather they enter the lottery and get a high pick (thus keeping the selection) and let Dirk retire without getting back to the playoffs?

The way this season has played out makes this question more complex than at first glance. First, the romantic beauty of basketball and Dirk’s career makes this easy. We should all want Dirk to get one last ride in the postseason. For someone who has given so much to a franchise and city, it’s the only fitting exit. And it would be a poetic passing of the torch to play alongside future of the franchise Luka Doncic.

On the flip side, the Mavericks are a 35 win caliber team right now, with lots of players coming off the books this summer. I’m of the opinion that they need to continue acquiring young prospects that they can develop alongside Luka Doncic and Dennis Smith Jr. And it would make sense for them to continue this path this season, with apologies to Dirk. Except...

The Draft night trade, and the November win streak! The June draft night trade to acquire Doncic, which gives the Atlanta Hawks Dallas’ 2019 pick unless it falls in the top five, makes tanking this season difficult. Even without adding the future rookie of the year, and signing seasoned veteran DeAndre Jordan. Then the winning started happening in November, creating even more separation from the lower depths. So the Mavericks best course of action is to do all they can to make that pick as bad as possible, while also not surrendering more future assets as they rebuild. Complicated, right?

@tylerbowen_: Please power rank the Luka gifs we’ve been blessed with thus far.

Tyler this is a great request. It’s so good we’re doing a deep dive. Check back sometime soon when we start asking the hard hitting questions, like: can we have too many Luka Doncic GIFs?

@abcause25: What do you expect to be our starting lineup by the end of the season?

This question would imply some possible moves before the trade deadline, because the easiest answer is the same starting lineup that’s established now. It’s hard to predict any major trade moves at this point. And something that might be important to keep in mind now is the Mavericks not wanting to tie up cap space that will be free this summer. So I’ll go safe here and say there won’t be any changes.

@LetsGoMavsFan: A question that must need to be answered: what’s the story behind raccoon squad?

You’ll have to go straight to the source by asking the guys over at LockedOn Mavs.

Barnes Trade Deals

PART ONE @frzk97: Assume the Mavs wants to trade Barnes, what kind of trade do we get most likely?

PART TWO @SirKoper: Why doesn’t a Harrison Barnes for Bradley Beal trade not work?

Let’s group these together, and dive in. If you look at just the money, a Harrison Barnes-Bradley Beal deal works straight up. But I’m not so certain either side is interested in parting with their player. If the Mavericks make any major move, which I’m just not buying yet, it’s more likely they’d move expiring deals or bench pieces. The most logical and common would be Wesley Matthews and Dwight Powell. Those two in exchange for Otto Porter Jr. works inside the trade machine.

Harrison Barnes is a tough case on the trade market. He’s proven to work in a winning system at Golden State, but analytics aren’t too kind to him now. Especially when you consider the money he’s still due. So the Mavericks would need to find a mid tier team that doesn’t want to blow things up, and is willing to spend on a player like Barnes. They could probably get a fringe starter, maybe a young project a team is giving up on, or possibly a late first/early second round pick in return. But his salary makes him a tough sell on the trade market.

All that aside, like I said above, the Mavericks seem clear they don’t want to tie up summer cap space. So unless they think they’ve found a gold mine deal or something that makes them ultra competitive for a playoff push, I think they sit on making a move.

**Winning Question of the Week

@J3Wheeler: If you could alter the fan vote to unjustly prop up any Mavs player into a starting role for the all star game who has never been (excluding Luka) which Mavs player would you select and why?

J3Wheeler is back again with a winning question, asserting his dominance on all things Mavs hypothesizing. I’ve read this question 10 different times over three days, trying to get a gut reaction and I never had one. At first I wanted to go through the roster and see who might be most deserving, playing a long and possibly unrecognized career - like J.J. Barea or Wesley Matthews (Jordan and Harris both have an appearance under their belt). But I felt nothing.

So what’s the funniest? I get nervous and a sense of dread when he enters a real game, but in an all-star game I would be on my feet screaming for The Mej. Imagine Salah Mejri in an all star game for a moment. You know he would be all over the floor, taking it as serious as a finals game. He’d contest every single dunk attempt, would be leading the break and chucking threes. NBA Fan Vote RIGHT NOW for The Mej. It’s what All-Star Weekend needs.