The Dallas Mavericks enter the offseason with an astounding eight free agents on their roster. Which should they bring back, and which should they let go? To figure that out, let’s turn to a concept our own Doyle Rader used for the Mavericks’ number 10 pick—Love it or List it. Doyle summed it up perfectly here:
Homeowners find themselves at a crossroads in the hit HGTV series Love It or List It. After living in their home for years, they’ve reached an impasse and must weigh the viability of staying in their current home or finding a new one that better suits their needs. Designer Hilary Farr and realtor David Visentin help sway the homeowners one way or the other in a friendly competition.
Farr takes stock of the current home and remodels it to improve its functionality, while Visentin shows them available properties that meet their requirements and budget. At the end of each episode, the homeowners must decide if they want to keep the home they have or place it on the market and move elsewhere
So here we go—which free agents the Mavericks should bring back (love) and which they should let go (list):
McKinley Wright IV
Wright, a restricted free agent, performed pretty well as a third string point guard late in the season. He only appeared in 27 games, averaging 12 minutes per game, and scored only 4.2 points per contest. But he showed he could run the Mavericks’ offense in a pinch, and while I don’t think he can ascend to much more than a third string guard, he’s valuable in that role.
Verdict: Love. Dallas should bring him back on a minimum contract. If another team offers him more than the minimum, however, the Mavericks shouldn’t match.
Morris was a thrown in to make salaries match when Kyrie Irving was traded to Dallas. He seems pretty much washed, playing in only eight games for the Mavericks. If there is a positive, Morris did shoot 39 percent from deep last season. But his defense isn’t there anymore, and the Mavericks can probably find someone younger for a minimum.
Verdict: List. Morris is a veteran, which the Mavericks need, but they need someone who can actually contribute on the court.
Holiday was brought to Dallas after his contract was bought out by the Houston Rockets. The Mavericks were searching for guard depth, and thought Holiday could provide some help. He ended up playing alright, scoring 4.4 points per game in 18 appearances with Dallas. But at 33, the journeyman guard might be nearing the end of his time in the NBA.
Verdict: List. Much like Morris, the Mavericks should seek out someone a bit younger with possible upside.
Signing Ntilikina to a minimum contract two seasons ago was a good idea by the Mavericks. Taking a no-risk chance on former lottery picks is always a smart strategy. The problem was bringing Ntilikina back for the second season. The former Knicks guard really doesn’t have an above average NBA skill, unless you think his defense is at that level (I don’t).
Verdict: List. Dallas should search for some other underachieving lottery pick in need of a scenery change.
Pinson was an all-time chemist for the Mavericks during their run to the Western Conference Finals in 2022. Last season...not so much. Dallas has almost no depth, and Pinson’s inability to affect things on the court made his hype man role on the bench a little stale. Before the Mavericks prioritize team chemistry, they’ve got to add more talent to the roster.
Verdict: List. Dallas needs players who can help them win playoff games, and Pinson just can’t do that.
I’m not even sure it’s possible for Powell to not be on the Mavericks. There’s been at least four times I thought his time with Dallas was over. And yet here he is. Powell has been playing a bit over his head the last few years with the Mavericks. He’s a coach’s favorite, no matter the coach, because he has sound fundamentals and is always in the right place on every play. Unfortunately, he just can’t compete with elite big men in the NBA, and the Mavericks desperately need better talent in the paint.
Verdict: List, but maybe love. If the Mavericks can somehow shore up their big man depth, bringing Powell back on a cheaper contract to be an emergency big and/or mentor to the roster would be a good move.
The Mavericks, in an attempt to remedy the aforementioned lack of talent in the front court, traded for Wood last offseason. The big man is electric on offensive, able to shoot 3’s and take defenders off the dribble and score at the rim. But his lack of focus on defense and inability to play within the flow of the offense didn’t win over the organization. Dallas shopped him at the deadline, but ultimately didn’t like the offers they received, since they didn’t move him. I think that makes him unlikely to return.
Verdict: List. Despite being in his late twenties, Wood is a project, and the Mavericks aren’t in a place where they can develop him into a winning player.
This should be an easy decision, since Irving has been named to several all-star and All-NBA teams. But because of his mercurial nature the last five years, it’s not so simple. Add the fact that when Irving and Luka Doncic shared the floor, the Mavericks’ offense was incredible—yet didn’t produce wins. So Dallas will have to weigh whether they can build a defense with two average or worse defenders in the back court, or trust Doncic to produce a high-powered offense on his own and try to bolster the rest of the roster through a sign-and-trade with Irving.
Verdict: Love, unless a good deal comes through, then list. If the Mavericks can pick up three playoff level players by trading Irving, they should capitalize on it and trust themselves to add another all-star later on.