Sorting Out the Dallas Mavericks Back Court Moving Forward
The Dallas Mavericks enter a offseason with questions surrounding their roster and more importantly, their back court.
Last year, Dallas went out in free agency to land their wing player of the future in Harrison Barnes to go with Wesley Matthews. At the trade deadline this season, Dallas then went out and obtained (hopefully) their big man of the future in Nerlens Noel.
In 2017, Dallas could bring in their point guard of the future.
The Mavericks started off their 2016-17 season with a veteran ladened back court with Deron Williams at the helm once again. Returning for his second season as the starting point guard, Williams joined J.J. Barea and Devin Harris as the veterans in the back court.
Over the course of the season, injuries took place and the Mavericks eventually let go of Williams in an attempt to get younger moving forward.
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Seth Curry took on a larger role in the offense and Yogi Ferrell came in as a 10-day contract that would prove his worth pretty fast.
Now Dallas enters the offseason with some questions to ask.
Curry started off the 2016-17 coming off the bench only to find himself as the starting shooting guard in the second half of the season. Curry excelled in the role and finished the season as the fourth leading scorer on the team.
But the question still remains, can he play the point guard position moving forward?
The 26-year-old Curry enters the 2017-18 season on a contract year slated to make around $3 million. After the 2017-18 season, Curry will hit unrestricted free agency where he will get a much deserved pay raise.
Depending on what Dallas does with Dirk Nowitzki in the starting lineup, Curry should be the starting shooting guard entering next season.
Unless Dallas wants to “cash in” on Curry before he hits unrestricted free agency, Curry will be back and a be a big part of the offense.
Ferrell came in on a 10-day contract in January and would sign a multi-year contract before he could even sign a second 10-day contract.
Ferrell’s time as a Maverick started off on an extreme high highlighted by a 30 point game in Portland. But like many assumed, and Carlisle warned, Ferrell would slowly come back down to Earth.
At exit interviews, Ferrell said he believes he is a starting point guard in the NBA, but do the Mavericks feel the same?
I don’t believe they do and that is perfectly fine. Ferrell has proved he can be the spark plug off the bench while also serving as an above average fill-in starter at times.
The 23-year-old Ferrell has a team option for around $1.3 million for the 2017-18 season that Dallas will pick up immediately. He will come back as a starter insurance, but more like a second unit guy who will split minutes with J.J. Barea.
Speaking of Barea, he will enter his 12th season at the age of 33 years old.
Barea is right in the middle of the four-year, $16 million deal that will pay him $3.9 million in 2017-18 and $3.7 million in 2018-19. There are no team or player options on his deal.
Plagued by injuries, Barea appeared in 35 games this season where he would average 10.9 points a game, which is tied for his highest average in his past four seasons.
Barea is beloved in Dallas both by the fans and the organization. He knows the offense and is a veteran voice in the back court. Unless there is a surprise trade, Barea will be back as the veteran spark plug off the bench once again.
The only current (back court) Maverick whose status is uncertain is Devin Harris and his team option for the 2017-18 season. HIs salary number for the 2017-18 season, if picked up by Dallas, would be around $4.4 million.
Harris missed the first 16 games of the season due to a preseason toe injury, but would come back strong and finish the season on a high note. He even admitted that he is entering this summer as the healthiest he has been over the past few years.
But Harris also admitted that Dallas hadn’t told him their indications yet. The “ball is in their court” Harris said in reference to the Mavericks’ decision.
Harris played both positions for the Mavericks this season, but could be the odd man out if the Mavericks find another young point guard this summer. If I had to guess, Dallas will add a young guard in the draft or free agency and Harris’ option will not be picked up.
I feel like I have to still include Matthews in this group even though he played at the small forward position the majority of the season.
Matthews just came off a season where he made $17.1 million and is slated to make $17.8 million for the 2017-18 season. After that, he has a player option for the 2018-19 season for $18.6 million.
Matthews is coming off a season where he averaged 13.5 points a game and shot 36% percent from behind the arc, his second to lowest percentage since he came into the league.
Matthews will be back as the team’s best perimeter defender and most passionate voice in the locker room. Depending on the lineup vision going forward with Nowitzki and Noel, Matthews will get time at both small forward and shooting guard moving forward.
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The amount of cap room Dallas will have this summer is unclear at the moment with options around Harris and Nowitzki, along with a handful of players with non-guaranteed money. But if Dallas went shopping for free agent guards, here are the top free agent point guards this summer.
Stephen Curry- Unrestricted
Chris Paul- Player Option
Kyle Lowry- Player Option
Jrue Holiday- Unrestricted
George Hill- Unrestricted
Jeff Teague- Unrestricted
Derrick Rose- Unrestricted
Patty Mills- Unrestricted
Shaun Livingston- Unrestricted
*All salary numbers from BasketballInsiders.com
Curry, Paul, and Lowry will all be off the table for Dallas. Holiday and Hill will get pretty big deals that I am unsure if Dallas is willing to dish out at the moment. Then it comes down how much they would be willing to pay for someone like Mills or Teague.
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This is the obvious area for Dallas to add a young gun to their back court.
If the odds play out, the Mavericks will have the 9th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Fortunately, it is a loaded draft class with five (maybe six) point guards in the top 10 of the draft.
Players such as Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz, De’Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina, and Malik Monk all have a shot at landing in Dallas on draft night if presented the chance.
In my opinion, Dallas will land one of these names on draft night…no matter what it takes. Ntilikina has a good shot at being there at nine, but if Dallas wants a Fox, Smith, or Monk, they could look to move up on draft night.
So moving forward, my guess is that Curry, Ferrell, and Barea will be joined by a top ten drafted point guard for the 2017-18 season. Wesley Matthews, depending on how the starting lineup shakes out, will still log minutes at shooting guard also.
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Considering the free agent class and the money situation in Dallas going forward, I don’t believe Dallas will hand out massive money to a mid-tier level, veteran point guard.