Coveted Mavericks free agent drops massive hint of his next team

Dallas Mavericks, Derrick Jones Jr.
Dallas Mavericks, Derrick Jones Jr. / Tim Heitman/GettyImages

The Dallas Mavericks are officially on the biggest stage in the NBA as they'll begin the NBA Finals on Thursday, and fans can't wait to see their team back here for the first time since 2011.

There will be plenty of drama heading into this series, considering the supposed "beef" between Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis that remains combined with Porzingis and Kyrie Irving returning to their old stomping grounds, and Thursday can't come soon enough.

Doncic and Irving have continued to prove that they are one of the best duos in the NBA, and all of the doubters who thought this partnership wouldn't work are looking foolish now.

While Doncic and Irving are the talk of the town right now, one role player who has seemingly gone unnoticed in these playoffs despite spectacular play on both ends of the floor is Derrick Jones Jr.

Derrick Jones Jr. drops hint that he'll return to Mavericks in free agency

Jones Jr. has been the starting wing next to Doncic and Irving, and he is earning himself more and more money by the day as he will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He is due for a much bigger payday than the veteran's minimum contract he signed with Dallas last offseason, and he subtly gave everyone a big hint of the next team he'll be playing for next season on Sunday.

When asked about Derek Lively II, Jones Jr. said "next year we expect him to step up and we expect him to step up even more in the Finals right now." Although this statement may seem generic, Mavs fans have been giddy due to the fact that Jones Jr. said "next year we" when talking about the Mavs.

It was reported earlier in the playoffs that Jones Jr. wants to return to Dallas, and this statement is even more evidence of that. Jones Jr. talking about next year and including himself in that conversation is a great sign, but he may not be as easy to retain as some people think.

Playoff risers often get huge contracts on the open market, and the Mavs must find a fair amount to pay for Jones Jr. without overpaying for him, regardless of how impactful he has been in these playoffs.

Jones Jr.'s big role will continue into the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics as he'll likely be assigned to guard Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown, and he may just be the Mavs' starting wing for years to come if he is as interested in staying as it seems.

For all the latest on Derrick Jones Jr. and the Dallas Mavericks throughout the 2024 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics, stay tuned.