Ranking Dallas Mavericks free agent targets by position
By Evan Siegel
The Mavs have plenty of salary cap space to throw at free agents starting July 1st, but will have to consider some tier two and three free agents if their top targets choose to go elsewhere.
Here is a position by position breakdown of who the Mavs should pursue.
3. Elfrid Payton
Elfrid Payton has had himself a strange beginning to his career. As a promising prospect for the Magic he found himself in a redundant situation with Evan Fournier and never matured into a starting caliber point guard. He was sent to the Suns for a second round pick at the trade deadline and again found himself trying to find a role next to Devin Booker.
The Mavs are deep at point guard, and don’t want to make Payton feel the same pressure to carve out a role for himself that he has in both Orlando and Phoenix. Instead, the Mavs could try to slot him into their rotation as an off-ball scorer or simply as a backup to Luka Doncic. The Mavs should prioritize other targets but Payton is a name to watch.
2. Dante Exum
Dante Exum made a name for himself as a defensive menace for the Utah Jazz. Long, shifty, and nimble, Exum is tough to get past as a defender and also attacks the basket with surprising aggression on the offensive end. As a restricted free agent the Jazz can match any offer he receives, but the Mavs should assume that the Jazz have some free agent targets of their own and might want to relieve the sudden backup of players that they have at the position.
Alec Burks is a similar type of player to Exum who is currently under contract, and the team did just draft Grayson Allen with their first round pick in this year’s draft. Exum’s spot in the rotation seems to be up in the air, and the Mavs could use as much perimeter defense as possible given the questions about the defensive ability of their starting lineup.
1. Marcus Smart
Smart is basically a better version of Dante Exum. Strong, defensive minded, and rugged as they come, Smart is the type of player that every front office covets as they try to build a championship team. The Celtics have lofty free agent goals and are already locked in to several big contracts. The Mavericks have cap space and should be looking to add a player like Smart whenever he comes available.
Smart is a restricted free agent, but if the Mavs can properly name his price, they might just be able to steal him away from the Celtics. The Mavs would essentially be getting themselves a younger, healthier version of Wesley Matthews and could desperately use some defense on the perimeter.