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Roundtable: What should the Mavericks do in the wake of Dwight Powell’s injury?

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Tough choices lie ahead.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas Mavericks Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve had some time to process the Dwight Powell injury. Place yourself in Donnie Nelson’s shoes: what do you do now?

Ian: It’s a difficult situation. I know Dwight Powell has his share of detractors out there, but replacing his energy - and most importantly his elite efficiency operating as a roll man in tandem with Luka Doncic - will not be easy. Beyond that, for a team that relies heavily on their depth like Dallas, to lose any starter is a problem.

I was up until now very skeptical of the trade rumors linking the Mavericks to one or several expensive big men, but now that skepticism must be downgraded, at least slightly. I still can’t find myself on board with someone like Andre Drummond (who I’m guessing Dallas doesn’t have the assets to acquire, anyway), but perhaps a smaller deal for someone who could serve as a backup to Maxi Kleber, if Kleber is elevated to the starting lineup in Powell’s place.

I still think the best use of cap space going forward would be put toward acquiring wings, so any move Dallas does make should not lock down significant salary to another big man past the summer of 2021, when the Mavericks will be poised to be major buyers at the free agent market. Ideally, Dallas could pull off a buy-low deal on a cheap big young they could develop as a rotation guy/insurance for Powell. Among ESPN’s recent “five young NBA trade targets who could thrive on new teams”, Boston’s Robert Williams would certainly fit that description, but Ainge may be holding out for a better deal on him.

Doyle: That’s a tough question. On the one hand, I could see the team standing pat. While they’re certainly exceeding expectations this season, it’s pretty clear that they aren’t in the conversation of a contender. Dallas is a tier-two team at best and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, that begs the question: With championship aspirations seemingly a bridge too far, how should the Mavericks handle the possibility of making a move to replace Powell in the rotation.

They do have contracts that can be moved that may make other teams salavate at the potential savings coming their way this summer—Courtney Lee’s $12 million is at the top of that list. The returns would have to be really worth it to make a move, though. I’m always one to say the team needs more wings and I still believe that. Young wings that can grow alongside Doncic and Porzingis aren’t going to come cheap. It’s going to take more than an expiring contract to land someone who can help now.

Dallas has Golden State’s second round pick this summer, which could be the 31st overall pick. That’s a pretty valuable piece of property in the draft. If the Mavs decide to make a move, it could very well come into play. I’m not sure that’s necessarily a good thing, especially when the team—and Donnie—love to try and poach first-round talent in the second. Why not play the draft cards you’re dealt rather than squandering them for nothing like in so many previous years?

I don’t think the Mavericks need to make any major moves with Dwight done for the season. They especially don’t need to chase someone like Drummond, who is just going to eat away at cap space for years. If they do make a trade, it should be for another perimeter playmaker who can defend. That’s what makes this team hum, after all.

Basically, what I’m saying is that the Mavericks need to sign Corey Brewer.

Kevin: If I’m in Donnie Nelson’s loafers I would resist the urge to do anything drastic. Making moves around the edges is fine. Trading Courtney Lee’s contract? Fine. Accidentally putting Justin Jackson on the wrong plane? Fine. Bringing Mej back? Sure, whatever. If a reasonable trade presents itself—take advantage of it. But don’t do anything that mortgages the future of the team.

I’d honestly rather the team pull in a bunch of older guys on 10 day contracts to see if anything sticks. And if this means I could end up with some really niche Mavs jerseys that say “Noah”, “Frye”, and/or “Faried” on the back, so be it. SIGN ISO JOE. SIGN LANCE STEPHENSON. SIGN HIS ACTUAL BROTHER, LANTZ STEPHENSON. Just don’t do anything to blow up this team.

Christian: To be honest, I’m not sure. It’s really nice to trust the front office and Donnie Nelson in particular to handle this in the correct manner - not quite the case for everyone’s other favorite Dallas team down the road. Personally, I don’t want the Mavericks to do anything drastic after losing Powell last night. No huge trades, no Drummond, nothing tying money up into a big man for the forseeable future. However, I do believe a piece simply must be added. Boban’s minutes should be limited and Porzingis has already missed a number of games this season, so there is definitely a hole in the rotation.

I think the best way to fill that hole is to add another wing to the lineup. Many expect Porzingis to ultimately play the five for the Mavericks in the future, so why not start now? Let’s add another wing similar to DFS who can play at the three or four. Allowing Maxi to continue to see all back-up minutes at the five and some at the four as well. Robert Covington is obviously a name being floated around, and he’s one that I think would fit perfectly. Not sure if the Mavericks have enough to get him, but that’s the first name I would call about.

More importantly, my thoughts and prayers are with Dwight Powell during this tough time. Get well soon DP!

Jordan: No they don’t need to get Drummond. I’m sorry what was the question?

It’s devastating to see any player sustain an injury like that. It was doubly so seeing high energy, high flying, hustle big man Dwight Powell go down. His whole game is built around his athleticism and it will be tough recovery process. All the best to him.

For the Mavs, they don’t need to make a move to be a contender, but they do need to make a move to sustain their success and be competitive. There’s a big whole in the rotation and finding someone to fill that will be important. Especially without knowing the kind of player Powell will be in the future.

They don’t need to sell the future, and I’d hate to see that Warriors pick go, but I think it’s now more pressing to make a move. Just not an expensive big man. There are cheaper options out there that can hopefully fill the Powell void (and maybe even improve the offense-defense balance).

Kirk: This is a long game, so I’m mainly hoping Dallas doesn’t overreact. They absolutely need big man depth of some form, so I’m pretty open to a variety of possibilities. So long as we all understand that with Maxi Kleber becoming a starter, Dallas would essentially be bringing someone in for depth. That’s about the extent of what I can hope for. I hate making trades in my head because I’ve never once be right about what they could or should do.