Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve been raving about the missed opportunities in 2019 for so long. Possibly it’s because I’ve grown weary of being the guy who points out the flaws in the plans of the Mavericks. Or maybe I’m just tired from moving across the country and I’m too tired for a fiery take.
But the opening salvo in free agency from the Dallas Mavericks feels pretty good so far. Facts aren’t feelings, I know, and neither are numbers. But given what I’ve grown accustomed to the last two free agencies, that the Mavericks made moves quickly gives me a glimmer of optimism.
Let’s review the facts:
- Tim Hardaway signs for four years, $74 million
- Reggie Bullock signs for three years, $30 million
- Sterling Brown signs for two years, $6 million
That’s three shooters all with strong percentages from distance for a team that takes a high volume of threes. In 2020-21 the Mavericks were sixth in the league in volume taken, but just 18th in percentage. Dorian Finney-Smith, Jalen Brunson, Hardaway, and Maxi Kleber all did really well from three last year, but adding two more guys into this mix is a great.
Is it enough? No, and since it’s less than a full 24 hours since free agency started I’m willing to give it a little bit of time. The Mavericks have been somewhat locked into a path since trading for Kristaps Porzingis and pair that trade and those assets going out with the owed pick to Atlanta in 2020 and Dallas just hasn’t had much to work with. We’re all understandably demanding about wanting the best team possible, but the aforementioned lack of assets paired with the uncertainty of what Porzingis can do moving forward left the Mavericks with very little wiggle room.
There’s still a number of things that could work for the Mavericks this free agency. I find myself very drawn to the possibility that Goran Dragic could end up with Dallas either by trade or an unlikely buy out. Dragic might be one of the last people on earth that can tell Luka some hard truths. Luka is so good, now. But he needs better habits and professionalism and that’s where his former national team teammate could play a role similar to what JJ Barea did his rookie year. Oh, and Dragic is still very good at basketball, he’s just not going to play all 82 games. I’ve also seen some hope for DeMar DeRozan by hook or by crook.
Maybe I’m very off base. I know large parts of the fanbase seem very irritated so far, but I suspect that’s largely because the Mavericks have sold themselves for years as always working towards something big while not actually getting there. It is frustrating to look back at Luka Doncic’s rookie year and know following the trade for Kristaps Porzingis, Dallas has two off seasons with only internal re-signings as part of the team (well, and Boban Marjanovic).
But with the framework of the team that just took the Clippers to seven games adding more shooting I feel pretty good! I’m as skeptical about Porzingis as anyone and I’m having a hard time imaging his defensive movement being worse than last season. Plus there’s a new head coach who will likely play Josh Green and perhaps Tyrell Terry! There’s a path to this team as it stands right now being good! And that’s understanding there are still moves to make.
So let’s give it a day or a week. Maybe things will get even better. And remember, Luka Doncic still exists and he’s the best player on earth.
Here’s our Monday evening free agency podcast. We recorded around 10:30 pm CST so if more happened, we’ll talk about that tomorrow. Here’s the direct link again. Search Mavs Moneyball Podcast on your favorite app.