The NBA trade market feels like a bubble on the verge of popping. Rumors float around the Twitter-verse daily and it seems that one more shake, one more tap, and the whole thing could blow in an instant.
The Dallas Mavericks have been near plenty of these rumors so far, a testament to how underwhelming the roster has been in the first half of the season. Bojan Bogdanović, Caris LeVert, and Zach LaVine have been the main culprits to these talks, and there could be more discussion going on behind the scenes.
A move that clears caps space or recovers assets would be acceptable. Besides that, Dallas should stay patient this trade deadline.
The after-effects of the Dallas Mavericks Kristaps Porzingis trade
The difficult truth is that trading for Kristaps Porzingis in 2019 was a move that left the Mavericks too little room for error. Instead of building the roster around Luka Doncic and then making the move for a second star, as is traditionally the case, the Mavericks did it in reverse.
Theoretically, it wasn’t a bad decision. It was risky, but Dallas saw their chance to grab an excellent talent on Doncic’s rookie deal and took a swing. If it had worked, the Mavs would have been in a position to compete for championships for the next decade.
However, Porzingis’ knees and fit next to Doncic proved a failure. Josh Green, their lone first-round pick since then, has come along this season but looks to be a nice role player rather than a reliable star. Things might’ve been different had the Mavericks held onto Jalen Brunson, but their lack of faith in him and misunderstanding of his market failed them as well.
They were left with a roster full of holes and limited resources to fill them. The Mavs are on the verge of recovering all of their future assets, but how they use them could make or break their future.
With their salary tied up for a long while and no 2023 draft pick, the Mavericks’ only option for improvements is via trade. Giving up a first-round pick (or picks) for Bogdanovic or Lavine is tempting. They both seem like an excellent fit next to Doncic and would improve the roster in the short term. Even so, both options reek of impatience and neither is the All-Star talent that Doncic deserves to be playing beside.
Dallas’ ultimate goal is a championship and the reality is another Porzingis-level swing is needed if they are to make the jump to become a top-tier competitor. They aren’t going to be able to make that swing if they are trading future picks for tertiary options and role players.
Bogdanovic is a high-level role player, but is already 34 years old and is likely approaching a decline. LaVine has a higher upside but demands a high price, despite not being proven as a second star on a playoff team.
Patience can be hard to exercise, especially when it seems like the Mavericks appear poised to waste another of Doncic’s prime years. Regardless, Dallas has already wasted years of roster building by chasing for a second star early in Doncic’s career, continuing to shoot for short-term fixes would be like slapping Band-Aids on a wound that clearly needs stitches.
The use of the Mavs’ future assets, not its 2023 playoff results (excluding an unlikely championship), will decide whether or not Doncic stays with the Mavs past his current extension. Unless there is an available move that propels the current team into immediate contention, Dallas has made too many errors to continue pushing its chips into a roster that is not a favorite for a title this season.