Dallas Mavericks: Johnathan Motley vs Salah Mejri

MISSISSAUGA, ON, CANADA - JANUARY 10: Johnathan Motley /

If the Dallas Mavericks want to give Johnathan Motley a legitimate shot, it might come at the cost of Salah Mejri.

The Dallas Mavericks are 16-31 with the second worst record in the Western Conference.

Combine that with the trade deadline looming and a roster full of moveable pieces and suddenly, the Mavericks have some decisions to make for the second half of the season.

In particular, what to do in the front court.

With trade speculation aside, there is an in-house decision to be made in regards to backup big minutes.

Before training camp even took place, the Mavericks made the decision to bench Nerlens Noel and move Dirk Nowitzki to the starting center spot. After the final roster was set, this meant the Mavericks had six players off the bench that were 6’11” or taller.

Not including their two-way player in Johnathan Motley.

Since then, Nerlens Noel has fallen completely out of the rotation and Jeff Withey has been waived.

While Josh McRoberts has recently logged a few minutes, he doesn’t seem to have a role in the rotation. This leaves Maxi Kleber, Salah Mejri and Dwight Powell.

Kleber has started 31 games alongside of Nowitzki while Mejri and Powell have been staples off the bench. But with the Mavericks looking to be lottery bound, could they look to bring up their two-way stud in Motley over the second half of the season?

Up until this point, Motley has only appeared in one game for the Mavericks. In the meantime, he has played 23 games for the Texas Legends where he is averaging over 21 points and 10 rebounds a game. The 22-year-old big man out of Baylor has shown he is ready for the big stage, now we wait to see if Dallas gives him some run in the rotation.

Motley spent Wednesday morning with the Mavericks as the team prepared for the Houston Rockets later that night. Judging by this, it looks as if Motley will be active and available to play for the Mavericks against the Rockets.

If Motley is ever to log significant minutes with the Mavericks, one of the bigs in the rotation will have to be pushed to the end of the bench.

Dwight Powell is 26 years old, making $9 million and is having a better season than last year. His spot isn’t going anywhere. Then you look at the biggest surprise of the season in Maxi Kleber and you have to assume that his spot in the rotation isn’t going anywhere either.

Then you have the 31-year-old Salah Mejri and his 12 minutes a game.

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To some, it might seem like a simple decision to bench Mejri for Motley, but Mejri’s impact can’t be overlooked on this team.

Mejri is one of the few old school type of guys left in the league that doesn’t care about the politics or player status’ in the league. He will challenge any player, any shot and literally every call. As a backup big, he is everything you want off the bench with his defensive presence and energy.

Mejri is also set to his restricted free agency this summer.

A possible solution to the equation? Trading Mejri to a contender before the deadline.

If Dallas does want to bring Motley up for an extended run, trading Mejri to a contender and opening up the spot for Motley might be the way to go.

Teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers, Oklahoma City Thunder and Milwaukee Bucks are all playoff bound teams that could use someone like Mejri off the bench.

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Personally, I love Mejri on this team and the energy he brings, but if the Mavericks want to see what they have in Motley, this could be an avenue they take over the next couple of weeks.