Two Firsts and an MLE

The Mavs have a lot of work to do this offseason to get this roster in shape and few assets to do it with. They're gonna have to be creative in roster construction which admittingly has not been their strong suit for the last decade. Here's what they're working with:

Trade "Assets"

  • Bertans on a quasi expiring contract (only 5M is guaranteed in 2024)
  • Hardaway on a declining contract
  • Waste of space er I mean veteran presence and previous world champion McGee
  • 2023 1st round pick (#10)
  • 2027 1st round pick

Ideally, those are the trade pieces you're talking with teams about, but most likely any decent upgrades would cost them some of:

Probably Shouldn't Trade But Will Need To

  • Green
  • Hardy
  • Bullock
  • Kleber

There are also sign and trade options, but there are just too many factors in proposing something feasible there. The only Mavs FAs that teams might have an interest in are Wood and Irving. I can't see any team wanting to give Wood more than the MLE, much less give up assets for him. And while there might be some limited interest in Irving (Phoenix?), let's assume he resigns in this scenario.

All the Needs

With Luka and Irving, the offense is going to be good, so while more reliable outside shooting and a more complete rim runner would be great, the Mavs really need to prioritize the other side of the ball first this offseason. They ranked 24th in defensive rating, 22nd in def rebounding, 30th in off rebounding, 27th in steals, and 28th in blocks. Those are atrocious ranking for team coming off a trip to the WCF, and while there is a lot to talk about from the coaching side of things, let's stick with the roster.

Basically, the Mavs need help everywhere:

  • Multiple wing defenders
  • Better rebounding
  • Better rim protection
  • Another ballhandler
  • More energy, athleticism, and youth if at all possible

Bullock and Finney-Smith looked worn down for most of the season after having to play 40+ minutes through the playoffs. And while the Mavs were already short on perimeter defenders, in their infinite wisdom they traded away Finney-Smith in the Irving deal. This offseason they need to correct that mistake - stack the team with long, versatile defenders, get a starting caliber center that can rebound and protect the paint, and put some athletes around Luka and Irving.

The Trades

There could be a good amount of player movement this offseason between would-be contenders getting knocked out early (Bucks, 76ers, Suns, Clippers, Warriors), middling teams looking for upgrades (Knicks, Cavs, Raptors, Kings, Grizzlies, Timberwolves, Pelicans), underperforming teams considering salary cuts (Nets, Hawks, Bulls), and high salary clubs looking ahead to the stricter CBA rules (Bucks, Suns, Clippers, Warriors).

Since the Mavs won't be shipping out "good" players, they should focus on the salary cut teams. The Bulls could opt for giving it another go with their current core and are unlikely to trade any of the guys the Mavs would be interested in (Caruso, Williams, Dosunmu) either way.

Trade #1

The Nets don't own any of their future picks, so they don't have a good incentive to outright tank. But they are likely to be a tax team for the 4th year in a row if they don't make some moves. Before they sign Cam Johnson to a new contract which is a virtual certainty, they already have 146M in salary on the books (salary cap: 134M; luxury tax: 162M). Reports say Johnson will get 20M+ per year in a new deal which pushes them over the luxury tax threshold for what is most likely a play-in team. Not to mention, they will also be thinking about the future expirations of Dinwiddie and more importantly Claxton. Finney-Smith, O'Neale, and Harris's names have popped up in trade block rumors since the season ended. Finney-Smith is the best option of the 3 for them to move - Harris and O'Neale are both on expiring while Finney-Smith has 3 years left on his deal, is on the wrong side of 30, and was less than stellar in his limited time with the team.

Nets get:

  • 2023 1st round pick (#10)
  • Bertans

Mavs get:

  • 2023 1st round pick (#21)
  • Finney-Smith

For the Nets, they jump up 11 spots to likely get a much better prospect in a good draft (still have the 22nd pick to use or trade), add an expiring to dump later on in Bertans, and reduce their future payroll. For the Mavs, they get back a heart and soul guy they never should have let go - DoDo is loved by Luka, fits the offensive system, defends well on the perimeter, and is a great locker room guy. And then they get a late 1st to either add more youth to the roster or use in further trades.

Trade #2

The Hawks are poised to pay the luxury tax for the second year in a row for a 7th place squad that got knocked out in the first round. They have 3 big rotation pieces expiring this next season in Murray, Okongwu, and Bey that they need to worry about. Murray will command 30M+ and Okongwu 15-25M depending on how next season goes. They're already paying Capela 21M this year (and 22M in 2024). It's hard to justify spending 40M on the center position in the league unless you have Embiid or Jokic. Hunter's new 90M contract kicks in this year, meaning they will be over the salary cap with just their top 6. With new management in place, the sense is that Atlanta is open for business and looking to shake up their roster while also cutting costs.

Hawks get:

  • 2023 1st round pick (#21)
  • 2027 1st round pick (unprotected)
  • Hardaway
  • McGee
  • Bullock

Mavs get:

  • De'Andre Hunter (due PPP, contract counts as 20M in a trade)
  • Clint Capela

For the Hawks, they get a couple 1st round picks they could use in combination with their own this year to move up in the draft or pair with Collins in a trade. They move two large multi-year contracts, bring back smaller easier to move deals, and pick up an expiring in Bullock. Okongwu has played great for them and is ready to take over for Capela now anyway. Hardaway and Bullock could both help space the floor for a team that ranked 28th in 3PAs. For the Mavs, they finally get a starting center that can work the backline, protect the rim, and rebound. Capela sets great screens, rolls hard to the rim, and is also a great offensive rebounder. Hunter is an athletic wing and a capable outside shooter who has all the tools to be a plus defender but hasn't put it together yet. While his contract is definitely an overpay at this point, he's only 25 and has had 3 coaches in 4 seasons along with missing most of the 2020 season coming back from injury, so there's reason to believe he hasn't reached his potential yet.

All The Boxes Checked

The Mavs use up all their desired trade assets along with Bullock, but they hold onto Green and Hardy and address almost all their needs:

  • Multiple wing defenders (check)
  • Better rebounding (check)
  • Better rim protection (check)
  • Another ballhandler
  • More energy, athleticism, and youth if at all possible (check-ish in the sense that Finney-Smith, Hunter, and Capela are way more athletic than what the Mavs sent out, and they swap out a 30yo (Bertans), 31yo (Hardaway), and 32yo (Bullock) for a 25yo (Hunter), 29yo (Capela), and 30yo (Finney-Smith))

They go into next season with at least 2 new starters if not 3, an improved defense, a cleaner cap sheet (at least in terms of salary per minutes played), and finally someone that can grab 7+ boards not named Luka. Seems like a slam dunk of an offseason, and they still have part or all of the MLE to address their extra ballhandler (Jevon Carter?).












What do yall think - realistic or pipedream? Could the Mavs hope for a better offseason than this?

Reader submitted. Opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of our editorial staff.