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Why trading Dorian Finney-Smith makes sense

Successful team building doesn’t focus on the present

Dallas Mavericks v New York Knicks Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Dorian Finney-Smith, in his sixth year with the Dallas Mavericks, is having the best season of his career. He’s averaging a career-high in points per game (10.5) and steals (1.2). His rebounds are down a bit (4.7 per game compared to 5.4 last season), and his 3-point shooting is slightly less accurate (38% this season compared to 39% last year).

The Mavericks should consider trading him.

First, his contract, an incredible deal for Dallas at just $4 million per year, is expiring after this season. They are going to have to pay him much more in order to retain him. Finney-Smith will likely end the year with a stat line of 10/5/2 on 38% shooting from deep. Tim Hardaway Jr. put up a line of 16/4/2 on 39% 3-point shooting last season and secured a 4 year, $75 million contract. Finney-Smith is a better defender and will surely ask for a similar number, even if it’s a little less than $18 million per year. The point is, Finney-Smith will no longer be playing on a discount.

Secondly, the Mavericks as currently constructed aren’t likely to defeat Western Conference contenders like the Phoenix Suns or the Golden State Warriors, much less the Milwaukee Bucks or the Brooklyn Nets. If the Mavericks can get a good deal for a player they may lose in free agency or will have to overpay to keep in a year where they aren’t good enough to make the Finals, it’s good team building strategy to acquire assets for that player.

For instance, here are two deals that make sense:

Finney-Smith to the Miami Heat for Max Strus and Dewayne Dedmon

The Heat get wing depth in Finney-Smith, and the Mavericks pick up a young guard in Strus who lights it up from behind the arc. Strus is shooting 42% from 3 on six attempt per game, both higher marks than Finney-Smith. The Mavericks forward is probably the better defender at this point and is definitely the better rebounder.

But Strus is three years younger and will have a much better contract situation. If the Mavericks can get the Heat to throw in a second round pick to go along, it makes the deal even sweeter. Dedmon gets included to make the money work. Maybe the Heat don’t want to do this deal, since they’re on a roll right now. But it’s possible they’d rather go into the playoffs with an experienced veteran like Finney-Smith rather than the younger Strus.

Finney-Smith to the Chicago Bulls for Troy Brown Jr. and a 2nd round pick

The Bulls are having bad luck with injuries, but they’re still playing well, so maybe they’re interested in beefing up their depth by swapping Brown for Finney-Smith. It’s possible they balk at adding the second round pick. But they also might be desperate enough to part with their own first round pick since they own Portland’s first this year, which is sure to be the better pick.

The Mavericks get Brown, who has similar size to Finney-Smith and the same wingspan. He can’t shoot as well as Finney-Smith, only hitting 33% of his 3-pointers. But he’s only 22 years old, and Finney-Smith was once a below average 3-point shooter as well. If the Mavericks can pick up Brown and some sort of draft compensation, it’s worth the trade.

So there’s a decision to be made by the Mavericks’ front office. If they truly think they can win a championship this year, they should stick with Finney-Smith and re-sign him this summer to an expensive contract. But if they think they’re a superstar short of contending for a ring, they should move Finney-Smith for assets—younger players and/or draft picks.

Re-signing Finney-Smith, along with Jalen Brunson, who is also an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year, will push the Mavericks into the luxury tax. Do you truly believe that Mark Cuban, who broke up a championship team to chase free agents with cap space, will pay the luxury tax for a team that can’t compete for a title?

This isn’t a plea to trade Finney-Smith no matter what. But if the asset-poor Mavericks can turn him into picks or younger players that they believe can help assemble a better team in seasons beyond this one, it’s their responsibility to do so. Living in the present as a GM is a recipe for disaster. Mavericks fans should know that better than anyone.