In the 21st century, the Dallas Mavericks have signed shockingly few players whom they drafted (or traded for on draft night) to a rookie extension or second contract. Fourth-year player Josh Green is trying to buck a recent historical trend of Dallas players not getting a second deal.
Of course, Dallas not keeping many of the players they’ve drafted over the years scales that number down some but the list is shorter than one might realize. There’s Dirk Nowitzki, who signed his rookie-scale extension in October of 2001. Then Josh Howard secured a second deal in October of 2006. The very next year the Mavericks secured Devin Harris on a five-year extension.
After that though? There is a long, long dry spell. Roddy Beaubois played just four years with the Mavericks. Jared Cunningham, Bernard James, and Jae Crowder were with Dallas for a short time. Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo were fleeting dreams. Justin Anderson didn’t stick. AJ Hammond was an idea. Dennis Smith Jr. got sent out in year two. Jalen Brunson, of course, left the Mavericks last summer as part of that painful off-season. Tyrell Terry is already retired from the NBA.
Unless I’m just forgetting someone obvious, that means between Devin Harris in 2007 and Luka Doncic signing his extension in 2022, Dallas went a whopping 15 years between keeping a guy they brought in via the NBA Draft.
Which brings us all the way back around to Josh Green. Some of his draftmates, like Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball, Tyrese Haliburton, and Desmond Bane have already secured max-level rookie extensions, the market is up in the air for seemingly everyone else.
Dallas has the option of negotiating now through the first day of the regular season and coming to an agreement with Green, which is just over three weeks away. If they do not come to an extension agreement now, they can wait until restricted free agency next off-season.
For the Mavericks, it makes sense to lock Josh Green in now. Though there are a lot of variables at play, Green’s just 22 (turns 23 in November). Despite any inconsistencies in his level of play, it makes sense to secure Green now, on the off-chance he has a relative breakout season in the 2023-24 campaign. The Mavericks are projected over the salary cap in 2024-25 as is (assuming a Green cap hold of about $14 million), so simply letting him walk away does nothing for Dallas that I can see. Locking him into a deal on par with or slightly more than that of recently acquired forward Grant Williams makes sense for the Mavericks. The risk of losing him in restricted free agency isn’t worth potentially getting Green at $11 or $12 million a season versus $13-17 million. The salary cap is projected to go up, after all.
And it’s worth mentioning how young Green is again, two years younger than the aforementioned Williams. Considering the stages of fandom I’ve gone through with Green, even getting to this point where I feel this way about Green feels like a bit of a breakthrough. After all, this player was drafted during the bizarre 2020 draft while the United States was still very concerned about COVID-19. Green played some at Arizona but had some bright red flags.
Then we had his rookie year where he entered the Rick Carlisle Phantom Zone early and proceeded to live there for much of the 2020-21 campaign despite the occasional breakout. He did not appear to know how to play basketball, averaging 2.6 points and two rebounds in 11ish minutes while also shooting a putrid 16% from beyond the arc. Jason Kidd and company rebuilt his confidence in year two, where he nearly doubled his scoring output and shot a respectable percentage from three.
Year three was a breakout campaign, stymied only by Jason Kidd doing weird things with Green in the rotation at certain points. His averages were good (9.1 points, three rebounds), but his shooting efficiency became a sort of urban legend talking point. “Yeah, I know Green’s shooting 50% from three but did you see his True Shooting percentage? It’s over 90%!” was the sort of (statistically correct at the time, but also insane) thing you’d see on social media. He had a weird kerfuffle with Austin Reaves only for Kidd to bench him in favor of Justin Holiday after NBA buyout season. Dallas then collapsed down the stretch and while Green got his groove back eventually, it didn’t matter much for the Mavericks.
Green told local media he’s not concerning himself with the extension at the moment. “I’m just letting my agents deal with that. I have a training camp,” Green said, “We have a lot of stuff we need to do as a team this year. I leave that to my agents.”
Josh Bowe jokes that he would believe literally any potential stat prediction for Green in the 2023-24 season. 43% from three, while averaging 12 points per game but also five straight games with zero points? It’s possible. 16 points and four rebounds and 30 minutes a game? Why not. The point is, this sort of wild ass prognostication for Green is why it’s smart to get Green locked in now and figure out the rest later. Is he going to be a Maverick for life? Probably not, statistically speaking very few are. But he’s more than good enough to stay in the NBA, which means he’s plenty good enough to get a new contract with the Mavericks.
Here’s to hoping it gets done sooner rather than later.