The Mavericks just completed their most disappointing season since 2011-12. Nico Harrison knows it, Jason Kidd knows it, and Mark Cuban has admitted it as well. Cuban and Harrison have both taken credit for a poor outing this year, and Kidd mentioned in a press conference that a lot of people wouldn’t be back next year. Change is imminent, but what kind of change remains to be seen.
To be clear: the Mavericks are not in a good position to have a total reset, though they desperately need one. By resigning Kyrie Irving, which they have to do because they will be in even worse shape if they don’t, they will be nearly $30 million over the cap next season. If they retain their pick this year, then that top-10 pick (and the first-round pick in 2027), Kyrie Irving, Tim Hardaway Jr., and potentially Maxi Kleber are their only real assets to leverage when upgrading the roster. Jaden Hardy and Josh Green are deal sweeteners as well, but it would be in Dallas’ best interest to keep them considering they are young and talented, two areas that Dallas needs to reinforce. The options are limited and although fresh faces would do this team well, the wrong faces could ultimately doom them for years to come.
We know what we’re getting with the current iteration of the Mavericks: limited defense, reliance on shot-making, and suspect coaching. Regardless, we also know that some variation of the current team works, or they would not have made the Western Conference Finals. Without a doubt, Dallas needs upgrades. However, when you only have Reggie Bullocks to trade, a lot of the time you’re going to get Reggie Bullocks in return. The Mavericks cannot afford many lateral moves at this stage. They have positioned themselves so far behind the 8-ball that from here until they are back in the Finals, they must hit on every move they make. With assets as limited as Dallas’, the margin for error is slim, and making changes just to make changes could result in disaster.
Sometimes change for the sake of change is good. We saw that last year when Dallas moved on from Rick Carlisle and hired Jason Kidd as the coach. The team clearly responded well to a new face, as they had their best season since winning the championship. The same thing happened when they traded away Kristaps Porzingis. But the rejuvenated feeling did not last because the team wasn’t upgraded, it was simply shuffled. Once reality caught up to the high, the team plummeted.
It’s hard to find where Dallas can make clear net-positive moves. Expectations for a plethora of them should be tempered by the fact that Dallas is asset-deprived. There will be semi-lateral moves such as trading Maxi Kleber to a contender for a younger role player. These moves must be around the fringes and not the focal point of the offseason. Their biggest trade tools (the picks, Tim Hardaway Jr., Kyrie Irving) cannot be used in any sort of lateral-adjacent move. Trading a first-round pick for a role player is the kind of move that will sink the Mavericks.
Dallas does not have time to keep taking a step forward and two steps back. They have a generational talent that is now going into his sixth season with the worst roster he has had in his career. With limited assets going out as far as the end of the decade, Dallas cannot afford to shuffle their hand. The pressure is on for Dallas to make the moves they have failed to make the last four years, and missing on any of the upcoming changes will result in the Mavericks not being able to contend until Luka Doncic is no longer on the team. With no exaggeration, the summer of 2023 will be the biggest summer of the next five or more years for the Mavericks, and they have no room for error.