Mavericks Rumors: Tim Hardaway Jr. Contract 'Prioritized' by DAL in 2021 Free Agency

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 25, 2021

DALLAS, TX - JUNE 4: Tim Hardaway Jr. #11 of the Dallas Mavericks looks on during the game against the LA Clippers during Round 1, Game 6 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on June 4, 2021 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks "have prioritized" signing veteran guard Tim Hardaway Jr. to a new contract this offseason, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.

Hardaway averaged 16.6 points and shot 39.1 percent from beyond the arc in 2020-21. His 207 made three-pointers were the most on the team.

Following the end of the Mavericks season, Hardaway indicated he'd be open to a return to Dallas:

Tim MacMahon @espn_macmahon

Tim Hardaway Jr., who is entering free agency: “If you talk to anybody that’s around me, they would tell you that I love it here in Dallas.” He has positioned himself to get paid handsomely this summer.

A few weeks later, team governor Mark Cuban also praised the 29-year-old but seemed to imply he alone won't solve the issues with the current roster:

Diamond Leung @diamond83

Mark Cuban discussed getting Luka Doncic more help in a talk yesterday with St. Mark's School of Texas alumni: <a href="https://t.co/dsbgimXjhX">pic.twitter.com/dsbgimXjhX</a>

But players with Hardaway's skill set can be invaluable on a team like the Mavs.

Luka Doncic is obviously going to have the ball in his hands a lot, and Dallas might look to get Kristaps Porzingis involved a bit more. McMahon reported on June 6 the Latvian big man "has been frustrated, often feeling more like an afterthought than a co-star as Doncic dominates the ball and the spotlight."

And that's before the Mavericks potentially land another scorer to supplement their two stars.

Hardaway has shot 38.6 percent on threes in a Dallas uniform, and more than half of his shot attempts (57.4 percent) have come from long range. Cuban's assessment was on the money, as the 6'5" sharpshooter hit 40.7 percent of his catch-and-shoot jumpers last season, per NBA.com.

Perhaps he's looking to have a bigger role elsewhere. Should Hardaway re-sign with Dallas, though, he'd presumably be content to play off Doncic and remain in an off-ball scoring role. That's not something the Mavs should take for granted.