Mavericks' Last-Minute Trade Targets Before 2021 NBA Deadline
They've won seven of their last 10 outings and posted the league's fourth-best efficiency rating over this stretch. This looks like a club capable of making serious noise in the playoffs, which has always been the aim since the franchise paired skyrocketing superstar Luka Doncic with 7'3" costar Kristaps Porzingis in Jan. 2019.
While Dallas' dual-star foundation will largely drive its success, the supporting cast could use a lift between now and Thursday's 3 p.m. ET cutoff. From shooting to defense to secondary shot-creation, the Mavs aren't short on possibilities when it comes to potential upgrades.
These three names loom as logical trade targets.
Wayne Ellington, Detroit Pistons
Dallas digs the long ball. Most modern NBA teams do, of course, but the Mavs embrace the three-point arc like few others, ranking ninth in three-point makes and sixth in three-point attacks.
There's only one problem: Dallas is all the way down at 17th when it comes to connection rate. The Mavs have a few rocket-launchers in the rotation, but there aren't many high-volume, high-efficiency splashers.
Wayne Ellington has maintained his effectiveness into his 30s by making that specific skill his specialty. Since 2016-17, he has splashed the 29th-most triples in the league. In case that doesn't sound impressive enough, he has the 13th-best percentage among the 30 players with at least 645 threes, and he's the only player in that group to log fewer than 7,500 minutes (he's at 6,093).
There aren't any other notable tools in his bag, but that will keep his trade cost low. If the Mavs are in the market for a cheap net-shredder, Ellington might be as good as it gets.
Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic
Aaron Gordon wants out of Orlando. The Mavericks should help him pack his bags.
Gordon has reportedly requested a trade away from the Magic, per The Athletic's Sam Amick and Jared Weiss. A change feels overdue given how Gordon's game has plateaued, and the injury-riddled Magic have tumbled down the standings this season.
Get Gordon in the same frontcourt as Porzingis and allow him to play alongside a top-tier shot-creator like Doncic, though, and that could be the key to unlocking the full potential of 2014's No. 4 pick. He's been tasked with too much perimeter work for the Magic, but on the Mavericks he'd have a wide-open lane to penetrate for above-the-rim artistry or quick passes to open shooters out of the short roll.
Dallas, which sits 24th in defensive efficiency, could use another versatile stopper to pair with Dorian Finney-Smith to pester opposing perimeter players and small-ball bigs. If those two can provide enough shooting, coach Rick Carlisle could have his playoff-game closing group with them, Doncic, Porzingis and either Tim Hardaway Jr. or Josh Richardson.
Evan Fournier, Orlando Magic
If the Magic are as open for business as their low spot in the standings says they should be, Dallas might have another Orlando target to consider.
Free-agent-to-be Evan Fournier would add another element to Dallas' offense as a spot-up sniper and secondary distributor. The 28-year-old is setting or matching his career-highs in points (19.1), assists (3.6) and three-pointers (2.7).
In Dallas, he would team with Hardaway and Jalen Brunson to provide support scoring and spacing to help make Doncic's life easier at the offensive end.
The Mavs, in turn, would have the next few months to figure out whether Fournier belongs in the long-term plans. If not, he wouldn't spoil any of their free-agency plans as his $17.2 million salary is set to come off of the books.