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Dallas Mavericks trade deadline roundup part 1: Goran Dragic and the Mavericks’ trade exception

Let’s run through some scenarios for the week ahead

Oklahoma City Thunder v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

The trade deadline is rapidly approaching, and as usual, everyone is curious about what the Dallas Mavericks are going to do. And also as usual, it’s been pretty quiet on the Mavericks end of things. But that doesn’t mean there’ll be no activity. The Mavericks came out of nowhere to land Kristaps Porzingis three years ago, so don’t lose hope simply because there are no rumors swirling.

Let’s talk through some trade deadline topics:

First, let’s establish that you should only lend credence to properly sourced news-breakers like Marc Stein, Tim MacMahon, or Brad Townsend

Adrian Wojnarowksi and Shams Charania are okay, too, though they don’t have the connections in Dallas like the three mentioned above. On the other hand, they’re not highly speculative, either, so if they report something it’s probably legit.

Don’t listen to generic Twitter accounts that no have a real person’s name. They have no accountability so they don’t care if they get it wrong. If you don’t want your hopes dashed for no reason, stick to the reliable sources above.

Second, there will be 25 games left in the season after the trade deadline

The season is rapidly drawing to a close. You might think it’s only about halfway over because the All-Star break is near. But nope, the season is basically 75% done. After the All-Star break, the Mavericks will only have 23 games left to play. That’s not much time to integrate new players.

Now that we’ve established those two facts, let’s move on to the good stuff.

The Goran Dragic situation

From the moment Dragic was traded to the Toronto Raptors there was speculation he’d be bought out and signed by the Mavericks. It made sense. Dallas needed an experienced, secondary ball handler to put on the floor with Luka Doncic. The fact that Dragic is a fellow Slovenian and the two were teammates on the Slovenian national team made him the perfect fit.

Too bad Toronto didn’t get the memo. The Raptors are still holding out for a trade so they can recoup something for Dragic. They’ll probably take that stance right up to the deadline unless they get something they like.

You’re probably asking why the Mavericks just don’t make a trade for Dragic. Simply put, it’s a math problem. Dragic makes a little more than $19 million this season. To acquire him, the Mavericks would have to match his salary. So they can’t just send the Raptors a second round pick and Moses Brown to bring Dragic to Dallas. They’d have to send something like Dwight Powell as well as Maxi Kleber to make the money work. Obviously they wouldn’t do that. Instead it would be something like Powell plus Boban Marjanovic and Trey Burke to make the deal work.

Not only would the Mavericks have to replace Powell’s minutes, they’d have to find replacements off the street for Boban and Burke. That’s not even mentioning the fact that Toronto would probably have no interest in Powell. And the Mavericks aren’t going to sweeten the trade with a pick for less than thirty games of Dragic.

I think the trade deadline passes and the Raptors end up buying out the remainder of Dragic’s contract. He’ll then quickly sign with the Mavericks for a playoff run with Luka. There’s no danger of Dragic returning to the Miami Heat, as re-signing a player they have traded during the league year is prohibited by the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement. The only way it would be okay is if Dragic is traded to another team by Toronto.

The trade exception might go unused, at least right now

The Mavericks are sitting on a $10.9 trade exception they created with the Josh Richardson trade to the Boston Celtics in the off season. There was some speculation they might trade for Dennis Schroder using the exception, but that was shut down pretty quickly by Marc Stein.

So who could the Mavericks acquire with that exception?

Larry Nance Jr. would be a good fit and the Portland Trail Blazers seem like they’re deconstructing their current roster. He’s currently 6.9 points and 5.6 rebounds per game on 30% 3-point shooting. But he’s shot better than that in the past, up to 36% in 2020-21 for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He could fill Powell’s role easily, though maybe less effectively, which would then allow the Mavericks to shop Powell in a different trade.

Maybe the Indiana Pacers, who have been telling everyone they’ll trade anyone but have yet to move a single player, would be interested in sending out Justin Holiday in a trade. That would be a huge pickup for the Mavericks, but I doubt the Pacers do it for just a second round pick. Holiday is averaging 11 point per game on 38% shooting from deep. Does it take a protected first round pick to pry him away? If that’s the case I’d probably walk away.

As long as we’re talking the Pacers, perhaps the Mavericks could bring in T.J. McConnell if they get the sense that Dragic isn’t going to fall into their laps. McConnell is a reasonably good backup point guard, something that’s needed sense Jalen Brunson is a starter now.

If the Mavericks feel like they need a backup center that can actually play big minutes in a playoff series, Khem Birch of the Raptors and Robin Lopez of the Orlando Magic are two options. That allows them to send out Moses Brown, who’s currently getting zero minutes, for a possible second round pick.

Maybe you’re reading some of these names and thinking they aren’t enough to help the Mavericks. But what do you expect for a second round pick or two? Dallas isn’t going to get a season altering player using their trade exception. But what they might find is a player who can help them in the margins and win a game or two in the playoffs. And that could be the difference in another first round exit or a trip to the second round.

Part 2: Breaking down Jalen Brunson and Dorian Finney-Smith’s contracts and trade possibilities.