Grading The Dallas Mavericks Offseason by Andres Chavez
Andres shares his thoughts on the Mavs off-season...
The 42–30 Dallas Mavericks won the Southwest division and earned the fifth seed in the playoffs, where the Los Angeles Clippers again eliminated them in the first round. This time, though, the Mavs took the Clippers to seven games, but it was clear that Luka Dončić didn’t have enough help from his teammates and couldn’t down the Clips all by himself.
After a second consecutive early-round exit, the Mavs entered the offseason with high hopes of luring a key free agent to pair with Luka, as they had some cap space to maneuver. Instead, they predictably whiffed on Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry, and while they were linked to the likes of Kemba Walker, Richaun Holmes, and Lauri Markkanen, they ended up mostly re-signing their guys and adding a couple of pieces.
Yes, so far, they have failed to bring a top player to pair with Dončić, as Kristaps Porziņģis’ status as a second star is very much in question after he averaged 13.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in the playoffs series against the Clippers. However, that doesn’t mean the Mavericks can’t compete next year. They can be sneaky good as currently constructed and still have time to add a potentially impactful player before the start of the season or at some point before the campaign expires. We’ll get back to that.
Free agency activity
The Mavs re-signed shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. to a four-year, $75 million contract (he reportedly turned down more money from other teams to stay), and center Boban Marjanović to a two-year, $7 million pact. They also picked up Willie Cauley-Stein's team option.
Hardaway Jr. is a critical player with the Mavs, he's capable of scoring in bunches and draining threes almost at will, so re-signing him was a must. The centers, especially Marjanović, add solid depth, but his limitations on defense (his foot speed is slow, and he can be roasted with the high pick-and-roll because of it) mean he won’t get to play too much.
The free agents the Mavericks brought are far from the level of a Lowry or even a Lauri Markkanen. But they can be just what the team needs. The Mavs signed ‘3-and-D’ wings Reggie Bullock and Sterling Brown to three and two-year deals, respectively.
Bullock averaged 10.9 points per game with the New York Knicks, but the most enticing aspects are his excellent outside shooting (2.5 threes per game made, 41 percent of his shots) and his outstanding defense. The same can be said about Brown, who had a surprisingly good season with the lousy Houston Rockets: he made 1.8 threes per game on 42.3 percent shooting from downtown.
Those two will likely provide good production while playing off the ball with Luka, which Josh Richardson couldn’t do last season. Speaking of Richardson, he was shifted to the Boston Celtics for center project Moses Brown. Dallas also inked point guard Frank Ntilikina
Chances of landing Goran Dragić and Kristaps Porziņģis ‘rescuing’
The key to the Mavericks offseason will be adding fellow point guard Goran Dragić . It’s not a secret that the Slovenian wants to play with his fellow countryman and friend Dončić . Still, he was traded to the Toronto Raptors in the Kyle Lowry deal, and it appears the Raptors won’t buy him out and will instead have him on their roster to start the season, potentially hoping to flip him later. If that happens, the Mavs will be waiting.
Dragić is no second star, and he is 35 years old, coming off an injury-riddled 2021. However, he may be the missing piece for the Mavs, as he is a good playmaker who can create his own shot and may still have something left in the tank. That’s what the Mavs need: someone who can provide offense for himself and his teammates, at least for short spurts.
Another crucial aspect for the Mavericks’ offseason will be ‘rescuing’ Porziņģis after he looked lost in the playoffs against the Clippers. He looked slow on offense and short on confidence. And he was a complete liability on defense, as well. Working on his physique is a must, especially on his lateral quickness. He needs it to drive to the hoop and be decent when he has to leave the paint to defend.
There appeared to be some friction between Porziņģis and former coach Rick Carlisle, but the latter presented his resignation and paved the way for Jason Kidd to become the new Mavs’ coach. Kidd has emphasized , his health, and having a regular, injury-free offseason to work on his game rather than rehab an injury. Everything seems to be moving in the right direction, and while the “Unicorn” may never be dubbed as a legitimate second star, there is no reason to think he won’t be better in 2022 and help the Mavericks achieve their objectives. Maybe a fresh start with a new coach is all he needs. The Mavericks didn’t move the needle too much, but it does appear they are better this time around. Don’t discount them.