The Dallas Mavericks are in a very weird space. They are coming off of the second most successful season in franchise history. They are also 16-16 this season and their most important defensive player, Maxi Kleber, is likely out for the year after suffering a torn hamstring. Dorian Finney-Smith and Josh Green, two of the Mavericks three other plus defensive players, are also injured though they are expected back soon.
The Mavericks also owe their first round pick to the New York Knicks unless it falls within the top 10 due to the Kristaps Porzingis trade. These factors have combined to cause people to call for the Mavericks to tank in the hopes of acquiring a game changing player. It has also caused other people to scream in panic that the Mavericks must make an all-in maneuver now.
Neither of these groups of people are right. Neither of these groups of people are wrong. Desperate teams make bad trades. If the Mavericks lock themselves in to buying or selling they commit themselves to desperation. The Mavericks have assets that can be attractive to the right teams on both ends of the spectrum. To a team committed to winning in the future, Mavericks draft picks in a future that could potentially no longer include Luka Doncic should be very attractive. To a team committed to winning now, Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock have shown to be the type of three-and-D players that everyone can use in the playoffs. The loss of Kleber does hurt in this aspect as he would have also been a very attractive trade target for the right win-now team.
The Mavericks are thus in a situation similar to the one facing Vizzini in the Princess Bride. They cannot choose the cup in front of them(going all-in) because other teams will hold them hostage with the potential of Doncic leaving. The cannot choose the cup in front of their opponents (selling) because teams will hold them hostage due to their potential of losing their draft pick this year.
The answer then is not to lock themselves into either decision. Every team should know the value of all of their assets at all times. Business men know the value of their stock portfolio at all times even if they have no intention of immediately selling. This is no different. The Mavericks should know the value of Finney-Smith, Bullock, Green, Spencer Dinwiddie, Christian Wood and all of their future picks.
They should weigh the value of each of these assets against the value of what they are offered. If a trade of Finney-Smith, Dinwiddie, Wood or Bullock helps the future more than it hurts the present, the Mavericks should make that trade. If a trade of a future first or two or Josh Green helps the present more than it hurts the future, the Mavericks should make that trade.
The Mavericks should make a move. They are dangerously close to being caught on the treadmill of mediocrity which Mark Cuban has so desperately tried to avoid. They should not be locked in to going any particular direction with that move though. Cuban has praised entrepreneurs on Shark Tank for keeping an open mind and being adaptable. The Mavericks should take his advice.