From the perspective of an NBA team, NBA players are a little like stocks. The time to acquire them is when their value is at their lowest and time to deal them is when their value is at their highest. Other than superstars, players’ trade values are more fluid than we might think.
Coming off of his bubble success and with what was potentially a minor injury, Kristaps Porzingis’ value was much higher at this point last year. After another year he struggled to stay healthy, and struggled to maintain effective aggression, Porzingis would command the price of a used up mule rather than a pristine unicorn. That is why he will likely remain with the Dallas Mavericks through this off-season. It is better to hope he recoups some value than to deal him while his value is at an all time low.
On the other hand, Tim Hardaway Jr.’s value has soared since his trade to the Mavericks. Following his role change from go-to scorer to gunner, he has revived his image around the league and reportedly turned down more lucrative offers to remain Luka Doncic’s running mate.
With this in mind, it is important to look at the change in value of other team’s players as well. Tobias Harris was viewed as one of the most toxic contracts in the NBA last year and would now be viewed as an upgrade by many. It does not make sense to deal for him for the same reason it does not make sense to trade away Porzingis. The Mavericks would be buying at an all time high in value.
Here are some players who’s values may be in distress and their potential fit with the Mavericks.
Simmons is the most high profile distressed asset in the league right now. His on court fit would even work really well with Luka if he was willing to play the role he SHOULD play in the NBA. That role is as a screen and roll big man with elite short roll passing ability and impressive vertical finishing ability.
Couple that offensive ability with game wrecking defensive flexibility and you would have an incredibly value player. The problem is that is not the role Simmons sees for himself. Some fans and writers have long campaigned for Simmons to get his own team and play a very similar role to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Simmons is not Giannis. He does not have the same overwhelming physicality and he has allowed his poor free throw shooting to effect his aggression while Giannis has remained aggressive.
Couple the basketball issues with Darryl Morey’s reported demands for Simmons and he does not seem like the right asset to acquire at this time despite his talent. Is an asset even really distressed if the price hasn’t come down at all?
Marvin Bagley III
Bagley will always be linked with Luka because of their draft positions. Taking Bagley over Luka will forever remain a franchise altering mistake but there was a reason he was drafted so highly. He is a dynamic athlete for his size.
Placing him in the pick and roll with Luka would be a lethal offensive option. He theoretically would provide vertical spacing the team needs but also has a post game which would switch-proof him from all but the biggest of wings defensively. Currently Luka can attack switches but none of the Mavericks big men have the ability to attack the other end of the switch consistently. He has shown potential floor spacing ability as well as he shot 34.3 percent from three last year.
Bagley would require a return to unicorn form from Porzingis to truly work. Bagley’s biggest issue is that he is neither truly a floor spacer offensively nor a rim protector defensively. The theoretical value of Porzingis is that he offers both skills. If the healthy off-season allows Porzingis to return to his previous value, this pairing would have immense potential. Depending on the cost, this could be an extremely valuable addition to the Mavericks.
Siakam is an extremely athletic 6’9 power forward who can handle the basketball well for his position. He had a very public dispute with Raptors coach Nick Nurse last season. Nurse is one of the few coaches in the NBA who has enough cache to potentially win a dispute with a star player. If the dispute between them cannot be resolved, Siakam could be available.
His three point shot made significant progress the two seasons prior to last year. He shot 36.3 percent on 4.1 attempts per game over those two seasons. Siakam’s shooting cratered last season, falling to 29.7 percent. It is possible the shooting numbers for last season are not indicative of his current talent due to the unusual circumstances surrounding Toronto’s season.
He did continue positive trends as a playmaker. His assists per game have improved every season of his career beginning with a ghastly 0.3 per game as a rookie and finishing with an impressive 4.5 last season. His steals per game have also improved each season from 0.5 to 1.1.
I have no idea what a Siakam trade would look like but he is a 27 year old star who is not a defensive liability and can create his own shot. He is under contract for three more seasons at roughly $35 million per year average. If the Mavericks can acquire him without severely handicapping themselves in the future he would make them a legitimate contender.
Love is a little different than everyone else on this list. He is a negative asset. He is under contract for two more seasons at an average of $30 million per season. He is nowhere near worth that.
He is also better than his play this season indicated as he is not interested in his current situation. If he came with the correct compensation, it could absolutely make sense to take him on. The Mavericks do not project to have cap space until his contract is up anyway provided Porzingis exercises his player option. Therefore the only cost of taking him on would be Mark Cuban’s money.
If that money could be used to acquire a first round pick, it could be a huge boon for the Mavericks either as a trade chip or as an opportunity to reverse 2 decades of draft futility (outside of Luka). The Cavaliers likely would not trade an unprotected first but even with protections a pick could be valuable.
If acquired in this way, Love would provide more value than it might appear. He is still a gifted shooter, rebounder and passer. He has played with Lebron James and been incredibly successful which should prepare him for the role he would have here. The Mavericks should not take Love unless they get a pick back but if they do, he would become an interesting player here.
These are just some of the players who could be available for less than their actual value. It is unlikely that the Mavericks actually acquire any of these players but it would make sense for them to do so if the price is right.