Dallas Mavericks: Way-too-early 2021 offseason primer

By Evan Siegel
Dallas Mavericks Luka Doncic Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Dallas Mavericks Luka Doncic Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dallas Mavericks
Dallas Mavericks Josh Richardson Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Dallas Mavericks: Way too early 2021 offseason primer

The Dallas Mavericks made several savvy moves during the abbreviated offseason, including securing James Johnson and Josh Richardson to toughen up an otherwise soft defense. Drafting Josh Green and Tyler Bey, plus adding Wesley Iwundu on a two-year deal, were geared towards the same goal. These moves, in particular the trades, are designed to give the Mavs flexibility next offseason.

The Mavericks have ten players under contract for the 2021-2022 season, excluding Richardson’s player option at $11.6 million, which he is most likely to decline.

Dallas will have a difficult time creating space for a max salary. The cap holds attached to Tim Hardaway Jr., James Johnson, Boban Marjanovic, Nate Hinton, and Tyler Bey add up to a massive number. Keeping each of these players at those figures won’t happen, though.

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How can the Dallas Mavericks create flexibility?

The Mavs have an easy call to make with Johnson’s cap hold at just over $24 million. There’s absolutely no reason to maintain bird rights on him. Dallas will renounce Johnson before deciding if pursuing a max slot makes sense.

Johnson could be brought back with a room exception or minimum contract. These days, tampering is so rampant that teams can often get a sense of which players are considering signing with them long before the moratorium lifts. Allowing them to leave cap holds on the books knowing they can renounce any of them at a moment’s notice.

This may be what ultimately happens with Tim Hardaway Jr. Since arriving in Dallas, Hardaway Jr. has been a godsend for the league’s most lethal offense, and his defensive efforts have improved. Rick Carlisle and his staff have set the offense up to be as comfortable as possible for a gifted if slightly streaky shooter.

His cap hold rests at over $28 million. No cap space can be created with this remaining on the books. If Dallas wants to go for a bigger fish, they’ll have to set Hardaway Jr. free.

Even after renouncing Johnson, Hardaway Jr., and Marjanovic, Dallas cannot create a max slot. This leaves them with only a little under $17 million in cap room. Slightly more can be created by renouncing Tyler Bey and Nate Hinton, but giving up on two intriguing prospects for minimal flexibility is bad business.

The Mavs could make a series of moves to create enough room for a max contract, though.

Next: Creating space for a max