December 15th could be a big day for the Dallas Mavericks. As Senior NBA Insider, Adrian Wojnarowski put it, “Starting Dec. 15, 84% of the 446 players under contract can be included in deals. Currently, 65% of the league’s players are eligible.” For the Mavericks specifically, the players that then become eligible to be traded include Tim Hardaway Jr., Reggie Bullock, Boban Marjanovic, and Sterling Brown. The rest of the players on the roster are already eligible to be traded.
A major topic of discussion as of late has been the contract extensions for both Jalen Brunson and Dorian Finney-Smith. Part of me wonders if the extensions haven’t taken place yet because the Mavericks know that they are two of their most valuable trade assets and that if they do get moved, the team that takes either (or both) of them will then have the power to negotiate the contract(s), thus adding even more to their trade value. From what I’ve seen at games, it’s clear that both Brunson and Finney-Smith are truly beloved by the Mavericks organization. That being said, this current formula could use some improvement and in the world of trades, you have to give a little to get a little. Let’s look at what Dallas could do in the short and long-term.
Short term: make a trade
Dallas has limited draft assets but, there are still plenty of trades they could make or get involved in to bring someone in to help this team. There are several players who have been discussed publicly in regard to the trade market, which has decreased their value. Some of those players include Ben Simmons, Domantas Sabonis, Myles Turner, Caris Levert, Christian Wood, Buddy Hield, Jeremy Lamb, Kemba Walker, Marvin Bagley III, Goran Dragic, and more.
There are other targets that I don’t consider to be ‘untouchable’ that Dallas could also look at or help facilitate a trade with. Some of those targets include CJ McCollum, Harrison Barnes, Mitchell Robinson, Thaddeus Young, Malik Beasely, Robert Williams (can be traded after January 30th), TJ Warren, Evan Fournier, Robert Covington, Chris Boucher, Gary Harris, Daniel Theis, Ricky Rubio, Doug McDermott, and Derrick Favors to name a few.
The point is, there are lots of moves to be made throughout the league. Some teams could have interest in Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dorian Finney-Smith, or they might have their eyes on Jalen Brunson and Josh Green if they’re looking to get younger.
I’ve seen many people say that Dallas has “no assets to trade.” That is not true. Their draft pick situation is a little complicated, but it could end up working out for them (as crazy as that might seem). Dallas is unable to trade their 2022 first-round pick due to the Stepien rule, but if they can pull of a trade for a starter, they will still have their pick this year to replace the depth that Brunson adds, the perimeter defense that Finney-Smith provides, or the offensive boost the Hardaway Jr. brings.
Something else to add is that there are still a lot of questions surrounding Porzingis around the NBA which could also bode well for the Mavericks. Some of the teams that Dallas could look to strike a deal with might have more interest in a package including any of Hardaway Jr., Maxi Kleber, Finney-Smith, Dwight Powell, Brunson, and Green as opposed to Porzingis alone. If Dallas can bring in a starter without moving Porzingis while still having their first-round draft pick this year, I’d be thrilled.
Long term: draft the right guy
This draft class is certainly a fascinating one. As of today, Dallas is currently slotted to pick 15th. That should change once they get things back on track, and I anticipate them selecting anywhere between picks 17 and 22. Some upper-classmen that should be available in that range include Terrence Shannon Jr., Ochai Agbaji, Julian Champagnie, Matthew Mayer, Allen Flanigan, Johnny Juzang, and Jabari Walker. My favorites for Dallas are Agbaji, Champagnie, Shannon Jr., and Walker. I assume Dallas will look to select a prospect that they can plug-and-play to best put themselves in a position to compete (editor’s note: I am sobbing over Bane).
Moral of the story, Dallas has options. This stretch of the season has appeared to be a strong indicator that the Mavericks need to strike a deal. They have several contracts that are very movable pieces and that could cater to a lot of different teams. This is a new front office, so Mavericks fans have to show some patience and see what happens. So sit back, try to relax, take a break from social media, and let them go to work.