Dallas Mavericks Should be Willing to Take on Contracts for Draft Picks
By Evan Siegel
With the NBA Trade Deadline looming, the Dallas Mavericks should be willing to take on bad contracts as long as draft picks are attached.
The Mavs are short on assets at the moment. As one of the worst teams in basketball, they must make some adjustments to get their rebuild going at a faster pace. Dennis Smith Jr., Harrison Barnes, and Yogi Ferrell look like they may be here over the long haul, but that’s about it for the moment.
The Mavs might lack assets to be active in the trade market this year. The team pulled off a strong move at last year’s deadline by turning Justin Anderson and Andrew Bogut into Nerlens Noel, but it is unclear if they can pull off something similar this year.
The Noel experiment has failed to this point, and it is unlikely that he will return to Dallas as a free agent this coming offseason.
The team’s “trade-able” assets simply aren’t large enough to receive anything impactful for the team’s rebuild. Devin Harris, J.J. Barea, and Wesley Matthews will only garner so much attention on the trade market. Devin Harris could be an extremely serviceable piece to a team off the bench looking for a defensive presence while J.J. Barea could do the same for a team looking for a scoring punch.
Wesley Matthews is the ultimate three-and D player for a championship contending team, but is attached to a contract that is simply too large to make any teams interested. Harris and Barea could potentially yield one or maybe even two second round picks, but in today’s NBA, second round draft choices are only so effective when a full-on arms race is going on across the league, particularly in the Western conference.
Therefore, the only way the Mavs can improve their standing at the deadline is to absorb an expiring contract from a team looking to unload their bad deals. The only reluctance to this point that a team like the Mavericks might have towards making this type of move is that it could potentially damage their ability to sign free agents in future years.
The Mavs are public about their interest in big name free agents every single offseason. After striking out on Deron Williams, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, and DeAndre Jordan, the team has had awful luck trying to add big fish on the market.
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The team could be getting ready for a large pursuit of DeMarcus Cousins once he hits the market next summer. This could be part of the team’s hesitance to take on poor contracts from teams who are looking to clear up cap space and be willing to part with a draft pick to make the deal happen.
The Mavs shouldn’t think this way.
They are not in any kind of position to begin looking for the league’s top players, and should be trying to elevate their position in the draft as much as possible. The Mavs will likely have a high draft pick this coming year, and should try to add another one at some point in the first round. Adding Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov, or Iman Shumpert doesn’t sound fun, but would likely come with some draft compensation as a tip.
If the Mavs feel like they have a real shot at DeMarcus Cousins, then that is one thing. But to assume he will part ways with Anthony Davis, or turn down offers from other big teams like the Cavaliers or Lakers is foolish.
The Mavs should instead accept that they are going to be in the bottom half of the league for the next few years and try to speed it up as much as possible by helping their draft status.
The Mavs have been among the worst teams in basketball when it comes to gathering assets, drafting exciting prospects, and setting themselves up over the long haul. Instead, they have put all their chips into the middle of the table to pursue top name, froufrou players that end up choosing other teams.
Next: Restricted Free Agents for the Mavs to Target Via Trade
No one likes rebuilding, but that is where the team is. The Mavs should load up their draft stock, ignore free agency for some time, and speed this process up.