Mavericks' Complete Guide to 2021 NBA Trade DeadlineMarch 11, 2021
Mavericks' Complete Guide to 2021 NBA Trade Deadline
The Dallas Mavericks might be the NBA juggernaut hiding in plain sight.
That's admittedly a strange way to describe a just-above-.500 eighth seed that lands in the Association's bottom half by net efficiency (minus-0.3, 17th overall). But MVP candidate Luka Doncic had the Mavs running at full-throttle into the All-Star break. Since Feb. 3, Dallas has gone 10-3 with the fifth-best offense in basketball.
The recent stretch may do nothing more than make up for some earlier rough patches, but Dallas could be the club no one wants to face in the opening round—especially if this roster gets some reinforcements between now and the March 25 trade deadline.
On that note, let's break down where the Mavs stand entering the heart of trade season.
If Kristaps Porzingis stays healthy and championship-level-sidekick productive, Dallas should have most (or all) of its big-ticket-item shopping completed. Doncic is a 22-year-old who kind of disappoints when he doesn't deliver a 30-point triple-double. Porzingis is a 7'3" source of shot-blocking and three-point splashing. It's a killer combination to have.
But the Mavs can run into trouble with, well, just about everything else.
Despite Doncic's magic, this offense ranks just 13th in efficiency. That speaks to the need for more support scoring, better shooting (35.0 three-point percentage, 25th) and non-Doncic options in the shot-creation department.
Dallas has greater issues on defense where it sits just 24th overall. The Mavs should be in the market for more stoppers, and they must improve on the glass (20th in defensive rebounding percentage) to close out possessions at that end.
It's more about quantity than quality when discussing Dallas' asset collection.
Other than the untouchable Doncic, there isn't a player on the roster who would blow away a trade partner. Porzingis comes closest, but his injury history and future earnings would be a tough combo to sell to any team. That's assuming, of course, the Mavs even want to deal him, which team governor Mark Cuban denies.
Dallas' best pitch might be financial relief, so long as it can find a club hoping to make a splash in 2021 free agency. Tim Hardaway Jr. is playing on an expiring $19 million salary. James Johnson's is at $16 million. If the Mavericks are unable to make a major move, failing to match money won't be the reason why.
Where they could have trouble, though, is finding the centerpiece chip to get something done. They can't trade a first-round pick until 2027. They are down two future seconds too. Young prospects like Tyrell Terry and Josh Green haven't yet established themselves at the NBA level, and while there should be interest in Jalen Brunson around the league, he might mean too much to this team to let him go.
The Mavericks' search for a third star began the second Porzingis arrived, and they will surely try barking up that tree again.
Bradley Beal would be a dream get alongside Doncic. Zach LaVine wouldn't be too far behind. But neither of those players might be available. And even if they are, the Mavs would have trouble fielding the most competitive offer.
If Dallas drops down a tier, it would be worth finding out whether the Sacramento Kings still want to pay Buddy Hield $62.5 million over the next three seasons. The career 40.6 percent three-point shooter would go a long way toward filling this team's shooting void. For that matter, so would 41.5 percent career marksman JJ Redick or even former Maverick Wayne Ellington (38.1).
Defensively, you could pretty much name stoppers of all shapes and sizes, but Thaddeus Young, Richaun Holmes and Mo Bamba should all rank fairly high on the wishlist.
Statistics used courtesy of Basketball Reference and NBA.com. Salary information obtained via Basketball Insiders.