It’s no secret that the Mavs have pulled off what looks to be the biggest trade of the season a full week before the actual trade deadline, unless Anthony Davis gets dealt for the biggest haul ever. The Mavs acquired Kristaps Porzingis in a trade that was well documented here by our own RC Takes last Thursday.
Clearly, the Mavs are looking towards the future by acquiring a player that will not even play this year, per Mark Cuban. So with that sentiment, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News cited that sources within organization say that the Mavs now have their sights on adding Center Nikola Vucevic in the offseason.
Vucevic is an All-Star this year, Porzingis is a previous All-Star and Doncic is a near All-Star and presumptive Rookie of the Year. This trio could be a dangerous starting lineup, but is it feasible? Also, and arguably more importantly, is it possible? Let’s look at the player the Mavs are eying and what it would take to get him here.
Vucevic is having a career year in Orlando and has been named to his first All-Star roster right before he is a free agent. Vucevic is averaging 20.7 points and 12 rebounds for a Magic team that is currently in 11th place in the East. He has shined in a crowded frontcourt as an old school center surrounded by the high flying Aaron Gordon and shiny new Mo Bamba. The question for Vucevic is does he have a future in Orlando?
He is 28 years old and the longest tenured member of the team. However, the team is trending younger and they might not have room for him in their future plans. He told The Ringer that he LOVES the city of Orlando and his family definitely considers it home. He would like to stay in one place and keep his roots planted just as he’s watched his idol, Dirk Nowitzki, do in Dallas for 21 years…
That’s right, just like Porzingis, Vucevic idolized the best Euro player ever to lace ‘em for his entire life and wants to emulate everything Dirk stands for, even his loyalty and off court community engagement. After both he and Dirk were named to the All-Star Game, Vucevic salivated at the idea of playing with his idol, saying to the Orlando Sentinel:
“That would be awesome. I’d love to be with Dirk on the same team. He’s a guy I looked up to so much, a guy who was an idol to me for so long. That would be great. I’m excited.”
If this is how he feels about Dirk and the Magic don’t see a financially viable route for him to stay with the team, Dallas could be a logical first call on July 1st. If sources are to be believed, he would be pitched by the Mavs staff with a role that would both maximize his skills in a way that it hasn’t been and relieve some of the burden of being the best player on a bad team.
Putting Vucevic in the starting lineup next to KP for your frontcourt would give you both a 7’ center and a 7’3” power forward, which would be an imposing lineup for other teams. And while KP has averaged 2.4 blocks per game, he has only averaged 6.7 boards per game and Vucevic would help there by adding his average of 12 boards. Having such a large body like Vucevic (he’s 7’ tall and 260 lbs) down in the paint and KP pulling the opponent’s other big out to the perimeter gives Luka Doncic an enormous amount of space to operate and options in any direction. The Mavs would be unstoppable on offense, and middling on defense as Vucevic is only a 0.8 in +/-.
He is more of a traditional scoring center as opposed to KP, making over 82% of his shots from inside and several in isolation and rolling, but can shoot the 3 when necessary (shooting 37.8% on 3 attempts/game). He would provide another solid scoring option, but only really offering a big body and rebounds on defense. And at 28 years old, he would represent the team’s WIN-NOW mentality, rather than someone looking to grow with the two youthful additions over time.
What Would It Cost?
Vucevic is finishing up his 4 year extension off of his rookie deal currently making $12,750,000 this year. He was also named an All-Star this year. Both of those things would look to see him get maxed out or close to it, with a number between $22M-$25M per year.
There is an argument to be made that if he were offered a spot on a Euro Super-Team with a 7’ special skills coach named Dirk Nowitzki that he might take less to stay put long term, as he has illustrated he likes to put down roots. Another side note that could sway him Dallas’ way is that he is represented by the same agent as Luka Doncic…it can’t hurt.
Another option the Mavs could exercise to achieve a Vucevic to Dallas scenario is a sign and trade that would benefit both teams. Let’s say the Magic want to take on some expiring contracts to pull a move exactly like the Mavs did to get Porzingis this year NEXT YEAR since Orlando has not been a Free Agent destination in recent memory. The could, in theory, sign Vucevic to a max or near max deal and trade him to Dallas for the expiring contracts of Barnes and Powell to make the money match. Dallas gets Vucevic for the long haul, the Magic get players to take a big swing at the next trade deadline.
Is it Going to Happen?
In short, no. In trading for Porzingis, the Mavs gave up half of their upcoming cap space taking on 4 contracts. True, they still have about $29M projected cap space, but they also have several things they need to accomplish that would eat that. First, Cuban stated yesterday that they WILL sign Porzingis to a max deal this offseason. That alone would eat the entire cap space, if they don’t restructure anything. Additionally, Cuban has made it known that resigning Maxi is a team priority and that would likely be in the $12M-$15M if Powell’s last contract is any indicator. Add Dorian to that same issue and you run out of money very quickly. The Mavs essentially made their offseason move last week and going for Vucevic would be awesome, but greedy. If Cuban wants to throw money at the issue and go into the luxury, sign me up, but we don’t have great precedents for that.
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