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Mavericks GM Nico Harrison discusses his draft night strategy

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Zero picks doesn’t necessarily mean zero options.

Dallas Mavericks Jason Kidd Press Conference Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks enter the 2021 NBA Draft without a selection in either round. They owe their first-round pick to the New York Knicks as part of the blockbuster trade for Kristaps Porzingis in 2019. Dallas traded their second-round pick to the New Orleans Pelicans as part of the deal for JJ Redick and Nicolo Melli in March. The Pelicans actually sent this pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for cash considerations earlier today.

With zero picks, it might not seem like there is much for new general manager Nico Harrison to do. On the contrary, he says he has to keep his phone constantly charged because of the amount of calls he’s fielding from other teams. Does that mean the Mavericks will trade into the draft? Harrison isn’t ruling it out.

“I think it’s feasible and there are tons of teams trying to get out of the draft,” Harrison says. “But I think if you look at our roster, we’ll really young. The way Michael Finley says it all the time, our young guys are rookies. It’s like they get to do their rookie year all over again with the actual Summer League, having an option to go up to the G League to get minutes, and things like that that they didn’t get to do last year. I really think for us, when you look at roster spots and how young we are, it really has to be something amazing for us to try and get in there.”

Some of the players that aren’t so young have been major topics of discussion of late. Josh Richardson’s future with the Mavericks hinges on his decision to either opt into the final year of his contract worth $11.6 million, remaining with Dallas, or becoming an unrestricted free agent. As of now, Harrison says that Richardson hasn’t communicated his intention one way or another.

“We don’t know about Josh—what he’s going to do,” Harrison says. “We’re in communication with him and his representation. They have a few days. I think for them, they’re probably looking at what their options are. There are so many scenarios that are playing out in real time. I think they’re probably going to use the full time to figure it out. We won’t know until they let us know.”

Richardson has until August 1 to make his decision.

Then there’s the looming question of whether Dallas will part ways with Porzingis. Even though there have been multiple rumors that the team kicked the tires on trading the Latvian big man, it doesn’t sound as if Harrison is keen to make a deal.

“I really think it starts off with the coach and the culture,” he says. “When you bring in a coach that’s really going to coach him up, give him confidence, put him in positions to be successful, I think that’s going to elevate his play. I think we’re going to get the Porzingis that everybody wants to see.”

Still, not having a pick means that the Mavericks will have to make a move if they want to move into the draft. For now, Harrison is working the phones and seeing what, if anything, the Mavericks can do on draft night as he gets his taste of his first draft as an NBA general manager.

“It is a little weird because everybody is congratulating me, thanking me, and wishing me good luck for the draft and we don’t have a draft pick,” Harrison says. “So, I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to do. It is a little weird, but I say this, I’m still talking to all the teams. Teams are throwing out scenarios. So, there’s still the possibility that we can get in if there’s something that we really love, but it’s like a dry run, I guess. It’s going to serve me well for future years.”