If you missed yesterday’s thoughts from the staff on the off-season, click here. We had so much to say we split this up over multiple posts.
The off-season is over and now we wait. Since you’ve had plenty of time to think, how would you review things?
Ian: In the end, I think my bigger issue is with the process, rather than the results.
I can probably give the team a pass for being (in their own words) caught off guard by the Al Horford move and the domino effect that caused, primarily in swinging the door wide open for Boston to pursue Kemba Walker. Other teams were apparently just as surprised by that development.
It does, however, still leave a bad taste in my mouth to read the reporting about how the team planned to have a meeting with Patrick Beverley, only to never make that meeting because...they were busy almost making a trade with Miami? For players they didn’t need? Similarly, I thought the reported offer to Danny Green was -- while not necessarily a super low offer in a vacuum -- fairly unimpressive, and disappointing. My belief is that in situations when you have the near-perfect player from a fit perspective, as well as money to spend, you make the overpay, because that’s often the nature of free agency and the alternative is fielding a substantially worse team. Dallas seemed to follow this approach when they targeted and signed Chandler Parsons and Wesley Matthews in back to back summers to above-market deals.
That all being said, it does seem that both Green and Beverley were highly motivated to sign with the two LA teams, so in the end I can’t find myself being too critical of Dallas for not luring away players they were always wildcards to acquire.
If you start from the position of assuming the team would sign Kemba, or Brogdon, or someone of that ilk, clearly ending up with Seth Curry and Delon Wright is going to be a letdown. But that isn’t a fair position to start from, and Curry and Wright are solid players. Wright, especially, may be one of the more underrated signings of the off-season, as he was a bit overlooked playing on one of the deepest teams in basketball in Toronto for most of his career. His three-point shot abandoned him a bit this past season, but if he can reclaim his 2017-18 form(when he made 36.6% from behind the line), he could emerge as one of the better starting guards in the league, as he offers quality playmaking and defensive versatility with his size.
Meanwhile, Dallas kept all of their own free agents that I felt they really needed to, and at terrific value. Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith, Ryan Broekhoff and J.J. Barea will combined cost about $30 million next season, and those first two will be key rotation pieces for Rick Carlisle for years to come.
It’s unfortunate that a lot of the media coverage in the months leading up to July managed to drum up the all-too familiar fantasy of Dallas signing a big name free agent. Maybe I am also guilty of having fallen into that trap. The reality is the future of the team still looks bright, with one of the best young players in the league in Luka Doncic, and another young All-Star now in the fold in Kristaps Porzingis. Whatever the team is going to do in the near future will ultimately be decided by those two, and that was likely to be true no matter who the team signed.
Josh: OK, how much time do I have?
Fine, fine. I won’t keep beating the dead horse. Removed from the bizarre first week of free agency, it’s easier to step back and realize the Mavericks made some good moves and the team has a bright future ahead of it, thanks to Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. I think saying the Mavericks had a bad off-season is still totally fair, however, and it shouldn’t label you as some irrational hater. The Mavericks entered the summer with $30 million in cap room. They basically only used about half of it. Considering this was one of the largest free agent crops in some years, that’s a failure and there’s no other way to put it. This isn’t even considering the Mavericks missing out on Kemba Walker -- stars aren’t coming to Dallas until they are a better situation, full stop. But somehow the goal posts moved back even farther, suggesting the Mavericks shouldn’t even expect to sign mid-tier and role player-level free agents. What? While a winning situation certainly helps, Dallas could have overpaid to lure some of these guys in. As far as the reporting we’ve seen and the whispers we’ve heard, Dallas was basically focused on re-signing their own guys and pursuing Kemba, Danny Green and the players they signed. It’s hard to sign guys when you don’t chase them! Dallas didn’t contact Patrick Beverley and it’s obvious they didn’t have any serious interest in other mid-tier guys like Terrence Ross or Jeremy Lamb. The argument against overpaying them is moot as well -- cap space is a meaningless asset. None of the role players that were signed this summer got egregious, untradeable deals. If the Mavericks needed to create room in the future, they surely could have, like every other team in the NBA does every summer. The Mavericks had a chance to expedite their rebuild with a gaggle of solid free agents that would have been definite upgrades over what the team rolled out after the trade deadline last season. They didn’t. I consider that bad, while still understanding Dallas is still at an infinitely better spot today than it was 18 months ago. It’s OK to say the Mavericks had a good previous 12 months and a bad July. It’s allowed, I promise.
Oh god, I’m still rambling anyway. To pivot, I still love the moves Dallas made. They retained their guys on cheap deals, which is exactly what needed to happen for role players that haven’t yet contributed to winning. Delon Wright and Seth Curry are absolutely upgrades and fill needs -- Wright as a secondary ball-handler and someone that can guard ones and twos, Curry a sharpshooter Doncic desperately needs to spread the floor. Both of these guys will help, although they’ve mostly been bench guys their entire career. Wright will start, but mostly out of roster necessity, not because he’s a surefire starting talent. I was hoping Dallas would have picked up one or two definitive starters, but what the players they did get are at least cheap and extremely useful. The season rests on the legs of Porzingis anyway -- no matter who they signed, if Porzingis doesn’t look right, none of this matters.
It should still be an exciting season. Watching Porzingis come back and Doncic with a season under his belt could be special. But with how Dallas entered the summer, it could have been more. That’s kind of the Dallas Mavericks free agency mantra at this point, isn’t it?
Whew, guys, that’s a lot. You’re telling me there’s more? Check in tomorrow.