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Mavs Mailbag: The ‘try not to panic about free agency’ edition

We’re almost to free agency, and the Mavericks may have a lot on the line to build their team for the next era

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

We’re almost there MFFLs! Sunday evening means the opening of free agency. When the Mavericks created sizable cap space when they traded Harrison Barnes just before the trade deadline back in February, it was all leading to this weekend.

The speed of news in the NBA moves as fast as a single tweet, and the amount of rumors and speculation grows wilder with each passing minute. So while we sit in this moment of anticipation (see: PANIC), we’ll try to enjoy it and do some projecting and speculating of our own.

It’s been a while since we’ve done a Mavs Mailbag, so thanks to those who submitted questions. As always, be on the lookout for our mailbag post over on Twitter: @mavsmoneyball and submit your questions in the future.

Summer League & other thoughts

@ThiccSteph: Any prospects on summer only contracts that Dallas should steal after SL (Summer League)? And why is the answer Shamorie Ponds?

Trying to predict which undrafted players might be available after summer league wraps up next month is nearly impossible. I’ll be honest, I have zero interest in Shamorie Ponds heading to Dallas. My draft partner Ian will disagree, but I simply don’t want the Mavericks taking on any undersized guards. Especially ones who are streaky shooters. The hope is that Josh Reaves will be a nice pick up for the Mavericks, but other guys I’d want the Mavericks to track this next month: Louis King (Pistons), Zach Norvell (Lakers), John Konchar (Grizzlies), Luguentz Dort (Thunder), DaQuan Jeffries (Magic), and Sagaba Konate (Raptors).

@talldarkhippie: Explain Mavs trade exception and how it can be used.

The Mavericks received a pretty large “Traded Player Exception” when they traded Harrison Barnes back in February. The exception essentially allows them to use it in a trade when they want to take a player into their cap space without sending anything out. It expires a year out from the trade, so this specific $21.3 million TPE expires next February. But these exceptions are almost always left unused, and I would expect this one to also go unused. They want to spend their cap space in July in free agency.

@advancedstats23: What is the most you’d be comfortable matching on a Maxi Kleber offer? Also of the non big money FA’s if Mavs strikeout on the tier 2 guys who should they target other than Bev (Patrick Beverley)?

The Mavericks should make decisions on Maxi Kleber and Dorian Finney-Smith (restricted free agents) based on if they can sign their primary free agent targets. Luckily for the Mavs they can go over the cap to match offers that either of them sign, something they can’t do with outside free agents.

It can be tough to predict what kind of market there is for Kleber. It can be unfair sometimes to look at filtered stats, but I was admittedly surprised the list I created when I plugged in his points, rebounds, blocks, and three-point percentage to see what forwards produced similarly. Depending on how the Mavs fair in free agency, I’m pretty comfortable matching a deal under that pays him up to the max he can be offered (unconfirmed, I believe it’s around $9 million per year).

And yes, Patrick Beverley is an ideal player for the Mavs to target. I’d also like to see them look at Danny Green, Terrence Ross and Reggie Bullock. Give me some shooters.

@The_Stepback: Should we expect to get into the playoffs next season?

That’s a tough one to answer at the end of June. So much in the league could change in the next 10 days. The Mavs could end up signing a couple key free agents, or mostly run it back and add Kristaps Porzingis. That’s a wide window.

But I will say this: the eighth place team in the West the last two season had 48 and 47 wins. And the average win total for eighth in the last five seasons was nearly 45. While the Mavericks had a tanking end to the season that may not fully represent the team, that’s a big jump from their 33 wins. They’ve got a lot of work to do. Which leads us to...

Free Agency

@mason744: What realistic free agency plan gives us the best chance to win?

If I were Donnie Nelson, I’d want to find two starter level players in free agency. I would forget about chasing max-level players and opt to increase the Mavericks depth, surrounding Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis with shooters and maybe a perimeter defender. That will give them a boost, and makes them much more appealing next summer in free agency, showing they are on the right path — rather than putting all your hope in signing a top tier talent and having no cap space to improve the rest of the roster.

@Christo75028704: What do you think our chances of signing Kemba actually are? And what is the Mavs fallback plan if Kemba doesn’t sign here?

This question was asked at the beginning of the week...before the Boston Celtics became a potential landing spot, then the leading candidate to sign Kemba, according to reports by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. It would appear as of today that Kemba Walker will either re-sign with the Charlotte Hornets or head to Boston. Before the Celts entered the discussion, I think the Mavericks had a decent shot. What happens next? Well...

@em0n3y: Why would the organization have any interest in a 33 year old player when your 2 studs are 20 and 23?

This is directed at Al Horford, who has been the subject of conflicting reports linking him to the Mavericks by more local and national reporters than I can remember in recent memory. The reason a team like the Mavericks would want a proven veteran that’s 10 years the senior of their two young stars is because Horford is still an elite player, and the ideal locker room presence the Mavericks value. Horford is a great influence on teammates, can still play elite defense, and would connect with Rick Carlisle well.

Also, the Mavericks believe having Doncic and Porzingis means they’re ready to compete, no matter their age. They think their timeline is further ahead than most teams with cornerstones that are 20 and 23. Adding Horford takes them another giant step forward.

@DanielP27121040: How much do you think Dallas would have to offer Brogdon so that MIL wouldn’t match?

It’s going to require some luck and good timing for the Mavericks to steal Malcolm Brogdon away from the Bucks. Some reports suggest Milwaukee has a number they won’t match if Brogdon signs an offer sheet, but you’ve got to believe that’s near max and that they’d still likely match. If the Mavs are feeling like they have no other options and are willing to tie up the cap space, offering Brogdon somewhere around $20 million per year just might steal him away.

@J3Wheeler: Would you rather the Mavs have a genuine all star that doesn’t complement Luka/KP or a collection of role players that fit well with the stars on roster?

This really goes back to the top of this section. I think the best plan would be the Mavericks to find high-level role players to surround their young stars with. But I think we all know the Mavericks’ heart, and their desire to add another star. They’re getting one in signing Kristaps Porzingis...a BIG deal. But anyone hoping for depth and multiple signings have to keep their fingers crossed that chasing after more big fish doesn’t leave them empty handed for another July.