Could this denied trade offer for star center ruin the Dallas Mavericks' offseason?

Dallas Mavericks v Phoenix Suns - Game Two
Dallas Mavericks v Phoenix Suns - Game Two / Christian Petersen/GettyImages
2 of 4

The Dallas Mavericks had the chance to acquire Deandre Ayton for a bargain

On draft night, the Dallas Mavericks selected Dereck Lively II with the 12th overall pick. The 7-foot-1 big is one of the best rim protectors in the 2023 draft class, and he has the chance to be the starting center by the time opening night rolls around.

Dallas then traded back into the first round using their TPE and drafted Olivier-Maxence Prosper while acquiring Richaun Holmes. This trade gave Dallas another big in Holmes and a rookie wing defender in Prosper.

But what if I told you that the Mavericks' night could have been even better?

At some point after the Mavs drafted Prosper, the Phoenix Suns and Mavs engaged in trade talks centered around their star big man, Deandre Ayton.

Just a few days before, the Suns made a blockbuster trade for Bradley Beal. This trade added another big contract into the mix, and the Suns wanted to add some depth while dealing Ayton. And the Mavericks were one of the teams that they talked with.

Here's the deal that reportedly could have reportedly landed Ayton in Dallas.

Mavs trade for Ayton

Ayton is nearly a salary dump at this point. Dallas would have only had to give up Tim Hardaway Jr. and Holmes. The Mavs' center rotation then could have been Holmes, Ayton, and Lively II, but Dallas didn't want to make this move.

Dallas wanted to have McGee as part of the trade, but Marc Stein said, "The Suns balked at McGee's inclusion," (subscription required). Phoenix wanted the move to be Holmes and Hardaway Jr. for Ayton, but Dallas didn't want to make that move as they wanted to dump McGee's contract.

Now we explain why Dallas should have made this move.