The NBA’s trade deadline is Feb. 9, which is about a week away. This has been a weird NBA season to say the least, as there hasn’t been a truly dominant team to run away with either conference. The league feels as widen open as it’s ever been.
Because of this and the recent play-in tournament, that might mean there are too many buyers and not enough sellers. There are so many teams right now that can easily convince themselves they can go on a run, whether that run means a championship or just making the playoffs.
The Dallas Mavericks are not immune to the weirdness, hovering around .500 despite Luka Doncic’s all-world season. The team could go in many different directions. Here’s what you need to know.
Currently assessing the Mavericks
Dallas is currently seventh in the West with a 26-25 record. The team is one game back of fourth place, but also one game out of 11th place.
Luka Doncic is having a spectacular season, averaging just over 33 points per game on great shooting numbers. Unfortunately outside of Spencer Dinwiddie and Josh Green, just about every other rotation player from last season has taken a step back.
The only truly new addition to the regular playing lineup is Christian Wood, who has produced with 18 points and eight rebounds per game. He is currently injured with a thumb injury. He isn’t expected to return until right around the trade deadline at the earliest. Maxi Kleber is out with a torn hamstring and isn’t expected to return until after the All-Star break. Doncic has an ankle injury, but should return sometime this week.
The Mavericks currently have the eighth best offense, but 22nd ranked defense in the league. In the last two weeks, those ranks are 15th and 17th, respectively.
The Mavericks don’t project to have meaningful cap space until the summer of 2025. Dallas owes one more first round pick to the New York Knicks for the Kristaps Porzingis trade, so currently the earliest first rounder the Mavericks can trade is the 2027 pick.
Dallas has two second round picks to trade, 2027 and 2029.
For contracts, the Mavericks have four expiring contracts:
- Christian Wood at $14.3M
- Dwight Powell at $11M
- Frank Ntilikina at $2M
- Theo Pinson at $1.8M
If the Mavericks wanted to make a move that was purely about taking on another team’s bad salary (and either getting a promising young talent or draft compensation), they definitely have the expiring contracts to make it work, although Powell is currently the only healthy big in the Mavericks rotation.
In terms of “bad” contracts, the Mavericks only have two: Tim Hardaway Jr. and Davis Bertans, who are both still on the books through the 2024-2025 season. Only $5.4M of Reggie Bullock’s 2023-2024 salary is guaranteed, which makes him potentially easier to trade.
In terms of young talent the Mavericks could attach for a bigger name, the Mavericks have Josh Green, the young forward who has made a big leap in his third season, and rookie guard Jaden Hardy, who has shown flashes in his brief appearances with the team this season. Both players are on rookie contracts.
The big question: Which way does the team go?
For this deadline, the big question the Mavericks have to answer is what does the team truly think of itself? The Mavericks could just as easily be sellers as they could be buyers at this deadline, as the team teeters between chasing home court or falling out of the play-in tournament.
Dallas doesn’t have a ton of assets to mess around with, but they do have solid role players on fair contracts (Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock, Maxi Kleber) that could be intriguing to a contender. They also have enough expiring's to take on a salary dump. Unfortunately while the Mavericks probably don’t have enough to be a major buyer, unless they’re ready to mortgage the future and send out those first round picks. The Mavericks only have enough draft ammo to make one more big trade before Luka Doncic’s second contract ends, so they have to be sure no matter what move they make.
The Mavericks currently have the 12th best odds to win the NBA title according to DraftKings, at +3500 and the seventh best odds to win the West at +1400.
This trade deadline could move those odds considerably, depending on if the Mavericks make a major move one way or another. Dallas could be big sellers or big buyers.
Of course, there’s a third option — the Mavericks either make a small deal or no deal at all, which obviously won’t shake up the odds too much. We’ll just have to wait until next week to see.