The Dallas Mavericks lost one of their best players and ball handlers in Jalen Brunson this offseason. Ideally, Spencer Dinwiddie will step up and replace Brunson’s production. But that leave the Mavericks short of another guard who can set up the offense and make plays off the dribble.
Most thought that Goran Dragic would be brought in to fill that role. But the Mavericks seemed disinterested in Luka Doncic’s friend and Slovenian national team teammate, so Dragic signed with the Chicago Bulls. Jaden Hardy is a rookie, and it’s unfair to expect a young player to carry such a load, despite a strong showing in the Las Vegas Summer League. Tim Hardaway Jr. has improved his playmaking off the dribble, but it’s not his strength.
Instead, the Mavericks should look to the Utah Jazz, who are in the beginning of a roster teardown. Mike Conley is definitely available, and acquiring him helps the Mavericks in multiple ways.
The easiest way would be for the Jazz and Conley to agree on a buyout and the Mavericks sign him to a veteran minimum contract. But if Conley is free to sign with any team, he’ll likely choose a team that, in his opinion, has the best shot at winning a championship. That would likely be the Milwaukee Bucks or Los Angeles Clippers. Maybe the Phoenix Suns.
If Dallas wants to secure Conley’s services, the best way is to trade for him. The easiest way would be Hardaway with Josh Green as a sweetener in exchange for Conley. The Jazz get a veteran shooting guard to pair with Donovan Mitchell, and the Mavericks get their veteran backup point guard. But the Jazz probably don’t want the three years left on Hardaway’s contract since Conley only has two years left, one of which is partially guaranteed.
But maybe the Suns could be pulled into the mix. In a three team trade, the Mavericks get Conley. They send Hardaway to the Suns to add some consistent scoring to their bench. And the Suns send Dario Saric (on an expiring contract) and Landry Shamet (who has three years left on a contract that pays an average of $10 million per year, but only 2022-23 is guaranteed).
The Mavericks get a veteran backup point guard who can run the team for 15 minutes per game, and they gain more financial flexibility with Conley’s contract. The Jazz get off of Conley’s money and get back a young wing in Shamet. The Suns get a veteran shooter who can come off the bench and provide more firepower for a title contender.
Conley isn’t the player he was with the Memphis Grizzlies, or even his first couple years with the Jazz. But he’s capable of providing leadership and quality backup guard minutes for a Mavericks team that is in desperate need of another ball handler. Acquiring him also gives them more room to maneuver with the roster in the future. If he’s available, it’s worth the Mavericks’ front office considering.