The Mavericks offseason has definitely slowed down, if not stopped altogether. Free agency has mostly come and gone, with most of the desirable players signed and off the market. Dallas never really planned to factor much in free agency this summer, due to their cap space limitations. If the Mavericks were going to do any bigger moves this summer, it was always going to be on the trade market.
We’ve seen that already with the Christian Wood trade on draft night. Since then, there hasn’t been much to talk about and there’s a likely reason why — the Rudy Gobert trade has screwed up the trade market.
Gobert was traded for a huge haul. The Timberwolves sent the Jazz four first round picks, one pick swap, and their 2022 draft pick Walker Kessler. In addition to that, they also sent three capable rotation players in Patrick Beverley, Malik Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt. All three of those guys got major minutes in the Wolves first round series against the Grizzlies.
That trade has had ripples throughout the league. Here’s a very interesting blurb from The Action Network’s Matt Moore, from talking to league executives in Las Vegas during Summer League this past week:
“How are we supposed to establish a market after that?” one executive commented. “It was one thing when Milwaukee (traded five firsts for Jrue Holiday), they were in a specific spot. If you want an All-Star, it starts with six picks, plus good rotation guys? It’s going to poison the market for a while.”
Picks have become more liquid in recent years. For more on that, read this from ESPN’s Zach Lowe. But if there is one takeaway from the conversations about how teams are trying to build, it’s frustration at what the Hawks gave up for Dejounte Murray and what the Wolves gave up for Gobert.
If part of your betting involves “they might trade this player” or “they might trade for this player,” you should proceed with caution. The market is severely damaged at the moment and sellers will be holding up unreasonable standards of return relative to what most teams are willing to give.
Gobert is a very good player. He’s been an All-Star three times, made an All-NBA team four times, and won Defensive Player of the Year three times. Still though, at the end of the day he is a defensive center and play finisher. So definitely a major piece on a title contender, but not someone you can build your franchise around. Like it or not, those are still guys who create offense for themselves and their teammates.
Consider the Nets traded two good rotation players (Jarrett Allen, Caris LaVert), three first round picks, and three pick swaps to Houston for James Harden, who has won an MVP. Anthony Davis was traded to the Lakers for three first round picks and three quality rotation players, one who turned into an All-Star with Brandon Ingram. Looking at other star trades in recent NBA history, the package for Gobert feels significant.
Unfortunately that means Gobert has set the market. If Gobert was moved for four first round picks, why would the Brooklyn Nets settle for anything less for Kevin Durant, who is a full one or two tiers above Gobert in terms of player hierarchy. Once you get past four first rounders, things get weird — is an NBA team really willing to trade five or more draft picks (plus quality players) for one player, even one as good as Kevin Durant? How many picks is Donovan Mitchell worth if Gobert went for four picks? All those questions have likely led to the offseason stalling out, which of course in turn messes with the Mavericks plans.
Dallas still owes a first round pick to the New York Knicks in 2023. Since there are protections on it, the Mavericks technically can’t trade their 2025 first rounder. Which means the earliest pick they can trade is 2027. So not only do the Mavericks not have a lot of picks they can trade right now, the market is probably demanding more picks than usual to trade for a good player, thanks to the Gobert trade. Plus, Dallas’ ability to get involved possibly as a third team in a larger trade for Durant, Kyrie Irving, or Donovan Mitchell is also on hold, since the market has shifted and those deals seem to be stagnating. It feels there’s just as good a chance now that all three of those players stay put entering training camp as it is they are all traded.
Dallas is currently stuck between a rock and a hard place. Its trade ammo was already lacking before the Gobert trade and now the prices for all players has likely gone up since. There isn’t much for the Mavericks to do, except be patient and wait for an opportunity if it comes. So if you’re wondering why things have settled down this offseason, this is the likely reason why.