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NBA Free Agency 2023: The Dallas Mavericks sign Dante Exum, bringing him back to the NBA

The number 5 overall pick has spent the last two years abroad, playing in the Euroleague

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Per a report from Adrian Wojnarowski, the Dallas Mavericks have signed Dante Exum to a guaranteed contract, bringing the 6’5” guard back stateside for another shot at the NBA after the former number-five pick spent time in the Euroleague, winning a Championship with Partizan.

It’s a move that does feel somewhat out of the blue, but as ESPN’s Tim MacMahon points out, new Dallas advisor Dennis Lindsey was the GM for the Utah Jazz when they drafted him back in 2014.

The 28-year-old is seemingly a play to address the defensive shortcomings of the current backcourt - something the earlier signing of Seth Curry surely was not going to address. Still, with interesting young players like Ayo Dosunmu and Lonnie Walker still available on the market and able to fill a similar defensive role, going to get a guy who hasn’t played NBA basketball in two years is going to raise some eyebrows.

Perhaps Exum’s game has grown in his time away. Last season, he shot over 42% from three in 33 Euroleague games. If he can be at least a decent spot-up shooter while providing some defensive energy on the perimeter, maybe the front office is hoping he can help fill in the hole left by Dorian Finney-Smith. It’s a gamble that is perhaps more worthy of a non-guaranteed, go-prove-it type of deal, but clearly, Exum has enough fans in the Dallas front office that they saw fit to use what meager cap space they have to bring the shooting guard to Dallas.

If you’re wondering what Exum has been up to, here’s a highlight package for his last season with Partizan.

Fire off in the comments. What do you think of this deal?