Dorian Finney-Smith is not an elite basketball player. But he is the type of role player that elite teams employ. He is a solid defender who can knock down threes while not demanding the ball. He is also extremely versatile defensively, having been tasked with guarding players at every position from point guard to power forward.
Smart teams evaluate every player on their roster’s trade value at any given moment. Finney-Smith is not good enough to be “untradeable.” But the Mavericks should not trade him unless they receive real value for him. The first trade mentioned in the above article is interesting because of Strus’ explosion as a shooter. However, one should always be concerned of player development success stories the Miami Heat are willing to move on from.
The Heat are perhaps the best team in basketball at both developing players and at evaluating their own players. The Mavericks on the other hand are not particularly good at either. Strus is not a like for like replacement for Finney-Smith. He is a knock down shooter who is a not the defender that Finney-Smith is. Further it is unlikely that the Heat would even make this trade. If they did, it would be a red flag concerning Strus.
The second trade which is presented in this piece was Finney-Smith for Troy Brown Jr. and a second round pick. Yuck. Brown Jr does precisely nothing on a basketball court as well as Finney-Smith. Finney-Smith missing some kick outs from Luka Doncic annoys you? Brown Jr makes him look like peak Klay Thompson. Finney-Smith guarding elite perimeter scorers frustrates you? Brown makes him look like peak Tony Allen defensively. Brown is a better athlete than Finney Smith but a much worse basketball player. Second round picks are sold for cash every season. This would be simply trading Finney-Smith to trading him.
The problem is that the types of teams that would have interest in Finney-Smith are teams that are currently contending. Virtually all of those teams have traded off all of the assets that they would be able to use in order to make the deal interesting for Dallas. Finney-Smith would be a fantastic fit on the Utah Jazz for instance but they can’t trade a first round pick until the end of the decade and they are likely not interested in trading any of their core pieces.
The fact of the matter is Finney-Smith is more valuable to the Mavericks than what he would likely return in a trade at this point. This team is good enough to be dangerous in the playoffs this season. Finney-Smith is a large part of what makes them dangerous. In addition, it is unlikely Finney-Smith gets quite as large of a contract as was mentioned in the prior piece.
Finney-Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr are completely different types of players. Hardaway Jr had rehabbed his reputation to the point where he was viewed as a capital S, shooter. Contested, uncontested, catch and shoot, pull-up, he could hit them all. He has struggled shooting this year but that is why he got paid. Finney-Smith despite improved shooting over the last three years is more in line with Jae Crowder types who are generally paid the midlevel exception.
At that price, Finney-Smith, might not be an exceptional bargain but he is certainly not over paid. Further, while paying the luxury tax in order to keep Finney-Smith and Jalen Brunson sounds unappealing, remember Mark Cuban has made over a billion dollars on the Mavericks through capital gains and actual revenue over the last decade while never paying the luxury tax. The bigger concern to paying the tax is the limitations on flexibility that it places for future moves. But the Mavericks have been “keeping their powder dry” for a decade. Even dry powder goes out of date eventually.
If the right deal comes along for Finney-Smith the Mavericks should absolutely consider it. But they should not be looking to trade him. His cheap contract now makes it difficult to deal him for much of value because of the salary cap matching requirements in the CBA.
The Mavericks should not be looking to trade him for the sole purpose of trading him. Finney-Smith on anything resembling a reasonable contract will not be hard to trade. Further if he does get a number that the Mavericks are not comfortable matching, it is likely that they can extract more value than a second round pick via a sign and trade which will remain an option so long as he finished the season as a a Maverick. Finney-Smith is most attractive to the types of contending teams that do not have the cap space to sign him to an above mid-level exception deal outright.
Finally, not trading him, even if he does not resign allows him to play this post season with the Mavericks. There is no monster in the Western Conference this season besides the Phoenix Suns and Chris Paul has a history of not being able to hold up through the playoffs. The Mavericks have an improved defense and Luka has a history of absolutely dominating the playoffs offensively. Finney-Smith is the most competitive Maverick and trading him would be a step backwards. As coach Herm Edwards once said “you play to win the game” and trading Finney-Smith would not be playing to win.