The Dallas Mavericks traded Reggie Bullock to the San Antonio Spurs, in a three-team deal first reported on Wednesday evening by The Athletic’s Shams Charania. The move brought Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams to Dallas, a player long rumored to be a Mavericks target. Head coach Jason Kidd has gained a versatile forward who can grow alongside Luka Doncic. But the team is also sending away a veteran presence in Bullock, who made an unforgettable impact on a thrilling run in 2022.
When the Mavericks signed the University of North Carolina alum in the summer of 2021 it felt like the culmination of many summer prayer requests, for me at least. I was pounding the table all the way back to 2017 for Bullock in Dallas, during his days with the Detroit Pistons. While not a flashy free agent acquisition, Bullock fulfilled the role of wing defender and impactful shooter that the team sorely needed to play alongside then Maverick Dorian Finney-Smith. It also signaled an understanding from the front office of the kind of players that will thrive alongside their young superstar and fill out the areas of weakness. Plainly, it’s the sort of savvy move a good team makes to become a contender.
More than all of that, Bullock is a community leader off the floor. Dallas, and the Mavericks organization, have been fortunate over the years to have players truly invested in the local community and unique service opportunities. Even before his time in Dallas Bullock has led the way in speaking out against gun violence and is a vocal advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. Last spring he was awarded the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar trophy as the NBA’s Social Justice Champion for the 2021-22 season.
Though his time in Dallas was just two seasons Bullock should be remembered as one of the more impactful role players for the team in recent memory. Few have been asked to do as much as he did in a surprising playoff run that took the team back to the Western Conference Finals (let alone a series win) for the first time in 11 years. They don’t get to that round without the play of Bullock and Finney-Smith.
Tasked with disrupting backcourt tandems of Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley of the Utah Jazz, then Chris Paul and Devin Booker with the Phoenix Suns, they both put on a clinic of effort and skill in those 13 games. The self-titled “Bang Bros” were one of the biggest reasons the Mavericks continued to advance. In round one he played 44 minutes or more in five of the six games (the other, 31 minutes in a blowout victory). In the 18 games of the WCF journey, Bullock averaged 10.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 1.2 steals while shooting 39.7 percent from three on seven attempts per game. He logged over 700 minutes that postseason.
We are barely a year past those playoffs and only two starters (Doncic and Dwight Powell) and four players total from that playoff roster remain (Josh Green and Maxi Kleber) — plus Tim Hardaway Jr., who was injured during the postseason. That’s sports. Rosters flip and teams try their best to improve, and this team needed to improve greatly after coming up short in 2022 and being embarrassed last season. The Mavericks absolutely made the right call in trading for Grant Williams who, while still relatively young, brings plenty of experience to the team. Bullock is getting older, and last season may indicate that all of those 700 minutes last summer took a greater toll. Still, it’s these deals that I remember why I keep coming back to sports. The superstars are fun no doubt, but it’s the impact of workhorse players like Bullock that keep me invested. I wrote something similar when Finney-Smith was sent to Brooklyn in February. Bullock’s time and trajectory in Dallas was much shorter, but I will remember it fondly and wish him nothing but the best.