Mavericks' 2022 Free Agents, Targets and Draft Needs After NBA Playoff Loss

Doric SamContributor IMay 27, 2022

Mavericks' 2022 Free Agents, Targets and Draft Needs After NBA Playoff Loss

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    Glenn James/Getty Images

    The 2021-22 season has come to an end for the Dallas Mavericks, so now it's up to the organization to figure out how to build off a promising year and contend for a title next season.

    Before getting eliminated in Western Conference Finals by the Golden State Warriors, the Mavericks finished with an impressive 52-30 record under first-year head coach Jason Kidd—their first time winning 50 games in a season since 2014-15. Star point guard Luka Doncic was his usually-spectacular self, but it's clear Dallas needs another star next to him to compete against elite teams.

    Doncic's extension officially kicks in next season, raising his cap hit to $36.6 million. It won't be easy for the Mavericks to afford another massive contract, so they will have to get creative in their offseason approach.

    The Mavericks already got a jump start on free agency by acquiring veteran point guard Spencer Dinwiddie and signing swingman Dorian Finney-Smith to a four-year, $55.5 million extension before he hit the open market. But general manager Nico Harrison will have more work to do to build the team into a contender.

    Here's where things stand for the Mavericks heading into the offseason.

Free Agents

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    Unrestricted Free Agents

    Jalen Brunson

    Frank Ntilikina (contract not guaranteed if he's cut before 7/4)

    Theo Pinson

    Trey Burke ($3.3 million player option)

    The biggest decision facing the Mavericks this offseason is whether to bring back rising point guard Jalen Brunson. The fourth-year pro is in for a big payday after emerging as a reliable floor general this season.

    Brunson recorded career-highs of 16.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists in 79 games with 61 starts. He did a solid job filling in for Doncic during his absences throughout the year caused by various injuries. Brunson was also the Mavs' breakout star of the postseason. It won't be easy for Dallas to let Brunson walk away without getting anything in return.

    But it's likely that the Mavs can't afford to keep Brunson unless he gives them a hometown discount. It was reported earlier this year that Brunson was believed to be seeking a contract in the neighborhood of four years worth $80 million. If he sticks to that number, expect Dallas to say goodbye to a promising young player. However, the presence of Dinwiddie would help mitigate the loss of Brunson.

    The Mavericks will also have to decide if they want to keep Frank Ntilikina on board for next season prior to July 4, which is when his $2.04 million salary becomes fully guaranteed. The fifth-year point guard averaged just 11.8 minutes of action over 58 appearances, so he won't necessarily be missed from the rotation.

    Trey Burke would probably be wise to exercise his $3.3 million player option. After an uninspiring year, he likely won't get much attention on the open market. Theo Pinson saw limited action as he was on a two-way contract. It's possible that the team keeps him around to bounce between them and the G League.

Offseason Targets

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    The Mavericks don't have a lot of money to play with this offseason, coming in with a projected salary cap figure of $182.9 million, the seventh-highest in the league according to Spotrac.

    Dallas will have the mid-level exception to play with, but that won't provide much help in the quest to pair another star alongside Doncic. The Mavs will likely have to look to the trade market if they hope to make a significant addition.

    The Detroit Pistons have a highly coveted player in Jerami Grant who is entering the final year of his contract. While Grant isn't much of a three-point shooter, his energy on both ends of the floor would give Dallas a major upgrade on the wing.

    The Mavericks could also check with the Indiana Pacers on the availability of Buddy Hield or Myles Turner. Indiana has been building towards the future and could continue to tear down its roster by moving on from some of its veterans. Both Hield and Turner would fill needs for Dallas. Hield would provide the team with much-needed consistency from three-point range. Turner, when he recovers from his foot injury, would be a defensive anchor in the frontcourt.

    Speaking of defensive anchors, if the Utah Jazz decide to blow up their roster this offseason, three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert will surely be a player the Mavs will want to pursue.

    Players like Reggie Bullock, Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber could be made expendable if the right player becomes available. Dallas fans might be wary of another trade after the failed Kristaps Porzingis experiment, but the Mavs need to maximize Doncic's prime by adding another star.

Draft Needs

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    Darko Vojinovic/Associated Press

    Dallas would likely be better off packaging its 2022 first-round pick as part of a deal to acquire a star player. But assuming the Mavericks hold on to the pick, Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman tabbed 18-year-old Serbian prospect Nikola Jovic to land with Dallas in a recent mock draft.

    According to ESPN's Jonathan Givony, Jovic was averaging 11.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 28 minutes per game for Mega Mozzart in the Adriatic League.

    "Jovic's combination of size, ballhandling, passing, dynamic shot-making, confidence and youth is intriguing to NBA scouts, drawing comparisons to oversized international guards like Danilo Gallinari and Deni Avdija," Givony wrote.

    There are a lot of skilled wing players in the draft who could fit with Dallas if Jovic is off the board. Kansas' Christian Braun showed off his versatility during the Jayhawks' run to the NCAA men's national championship. Milwaukee's Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Nebraska's Bryce Gowens are also expected to be available late in the draft.

    If Dallas chooses to focus on a big, Auburn's Walker Kessler would be a natural fit. Arizona's Christian Koloko and Kentucky's Oscar Tshiebwe would be solid options as well.