There’s a growing sense of unease out there on behalf of the Mavericks.
Between the injuries to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, the trade of Anthony Davis to the Lakers, and the complete absence of Dallas Maverick-related rumors, it’s starting to feel strange. The Mavericks are poised to do something this year! And yet there’s a sense of déjà vu; that something bad might happen once the flood gates open on July 1st. Or maybe I’m speaking just for myself.
Here’s the thing though: the Mavericks already accomplished their 2019 off-season goal, only they did so on January 31st when they made the franchise altering trade for Kristaps Porzingis.
What’s so hard to remember is how quickly the timetable and expectations for the Dallas Mavericks have changed. Rebuilds, something finally experienced for the Mavericks in two decades, are exceptionally challenging and they require as much luck as they do skill in drafting and signing free agents. At this point last season things were a lot bleaker than we were willing to admit. Dennis Smith Jr. and Wendell Carter Jr. were going to be the future.
The move to trade up to draft Luka Doncic was an inspired start but as quickly as the front office realized it had the future star, they then had to pivot to finding him a running mate. The older, veteran-laden team just wouldn’t do with a 20-year-old budding superstar. That Dallas likely would’t have their draft pick this summer only added to the pressure.
Moving Smith, DeAndre Jordan, Wesley Matthews, and picks for Kristaps Porzingis was the in-season blockbuster move for the entire NBA. Pivoting away from miscast forward Harrison Barnes was a fascinating acknowledgement that his style simply wouldn’t work with what the Mavericks hoped to build, in addition to clearing space to reload around Porzingis and Doncic.
The end result is we sit here a fortnight away from free agency and a lot of external factors which make the situation feel dire. Despite a potentially bright future, superstar free agents do not seem to have Dallas on their list. An accelerated rebuild comes with intensified pressure, particularly after winning no more than 33 games in the last three years.
Yet the reality, at least as far as I see it, is that anything that comes from this summer’s free agency is an added bonus. Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are the foundation on which the Mavericks will build for years. This summer feels extremely important for Dallas but that pressure is external as much as internal. When a foundation is set, it gives a creative general manager like Donnie Nelson the ability to mix and match players to fit the core players. It worked with Dirk Nowitzki and will work with Doncic and Porzingis.
The future is bright no matter what happens come free agency.