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NBA Trade Rumors: Luka Dončić 'Strongly Indicated' He Wants Mavs Roster Upgraded

Adam WellsJanuary 18, 2023

PORTLAND, OREGON - JANUARY 14: Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks looks on during the fourth quarter of the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center on January 14, 2023 in Portland, Oregon. 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. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Having carried a heavy load already this season, Luka Dončić wants the Dallas Mavericks to be aggressive with their roster management.

Per ESPN's Tim MacMahon, Dončić has "strongly indicated" he wants the team to upgrade ahead of the Feb. 9 trade deadline.

Mark Cuban later denied that was the case:

Tim MacMahon @espn_macmahon

Mark Cuban denies that Luka Doncic has indicated he wants the roster to be upgraded before the trade deadline. <br><br>Cuban: "Tim MacMahon got it dead wrong. Luka has never suggested, asked, demanded or discussed changes to the roster." <a href="https://t.co/CyUDYiiFFJ">https://t.co/CyUDYiiFFJ</a>

Tim MacMahon @espn_macmahon

Mark Cuban (cont.): "Luka and Nico have a great relationship. They talk almost daily. Luka knows exactly what we have going on and is very supportive." <a href="https://t.co/5IXJvz9rYW">https://t.co/5IXJvz9rYW</a>

Dallas is in a difficult spot if it wants to appease its superstar point guard. The franchise has a lack of assets because the roster around Dončić isn't strong.

The Mavs also owe the New York Knicks their first round pick in the 2023 NBA draft if it falls outside the top 10 as part of the Kristaps Porzingis trade. They do own all their first-round picks after this year.

Jalen Brunson's decision to sign with the Knicks in free agency left the Mavericks without a strong secondary option. Christian Wood has emerged, especially since head coach Jason Kidd moved him into the starting lineup Dec. 17.

In 15 games since being inserted into the starting five, Wood is averaging 20.2 points on 51.4 percent shooting (36.3 percent from three), 9.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per contest.

Per Jasmyn Wimbish of CBS Sports, Wood ranks 10th in the NBA in defended field-goal percentage (44.5) as a starter. His defensive improvements are important because Kidd said early in the season it was a big reason he wasn't part of the closing lineup in the fourth quarter.

Maxi Kleber's hamstring injury basically forced Wood into the starting unit.

Despite Wood's improved play and Dončić's playing at an MVP level, the Mavs are just 9-7 since Dec. 17.

Everything behind the Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference is a jumbled mess right now. The Mavs' 24-21 record ranks fifth, 2.5 games behind the New Orleans Pelicans at No. 3 and 2.5 games ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 10.

Dončić is in the first season of a five-year, $215.2 million contract extension. He can opt out of the deal after the 2025-26 season.

The 23-year-old leads the NBA in scoring with 33.8 points per game. He ranks fourth in assisting (8.8) and 19th in rebounding (9.0).