It’s safe to say: the Dallas Mavericks will look very different going forward.
With the trade deadline and all-star weekend behind us, Mavs fans can finally breathe a little after a chaotic last few weeks. Not only did the Mavs make a blockbuster trade to acquire Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee, and Trey Burke from the New York Knicks for Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews, and DeAndre Jordan, but the Mavs also traded Harrison Barnes to the Sacramento Kings for Justin Jackson and a now-waived Zach Randolph in an attempt to clear up cap space for the summer.
With Porzingis out for the season nursing his ACL, however, many fans are very eager for next season already. Despite Luka Doncic dazzling on a nightly basis, including his amazing 13-point fourth quarter in a big comeback win against Portland, MFFL’s can’t wait to see the 23-year-old Latvian star share the court with the Slovenian sensation Doncic. That duo has Mavs Nation in an uproar about the future of this franchise and rightfully so. However, the Mavs other trade during deadline week – trading Harrison Barnes to Sacramento to clear up almost $30 million in cap space – is also something Mavs fans should be excited about since the free agent class this summer is deeper than it has been in a long time.
While the biggest free agent names such as Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, and Kyrie Irving are almost certainly not coming to Dallas, there are still all-star-caliber players that could possibly end up in a Mavericks uniform. Let’s take a look at whom the Mavs could potentially acquire via free agency come July 1st.
The Long Shots
The second member of the Splash Brothers in Golden State is one of the biggest free agents of the 2019 class. In my opinion the second greatest shooter in NBA history behind his teammate Steph Curry, Klay Thompson coming to Dallas would probably be the perfect dream scenario for the Mavericks. His fit on this team would be amazing being a two-way wing that can play off-ball from Luka exceptionally, shoot the lights out, and play perimeter defense at an elite level. However, I would assume that Klay stays put in his perfect situation in Golden State, especially if Kevin Durant ends up leaving the Bay this summer, which is starting to look more and more likely. Despite the report that Klay might consider leaving the Warriors if he’s not offered the max, I find it hard to believe that the Warriors wouldn’t offer him a max contract for the contributions he has made to this dynasty.
Jimmy Buckets will also be a highly coveted player this summer. After basically forcing his way out of Chicago and Minnesota, Butler got traded to Philadelphia early on this season, and the 76ers seem to want to keep him long term this summer along with newly acquired Tobias Harris. Butler would be another elite wing player that can create his own shot and play great defense on star players. However, his personality and ego seem to get in the way of success based off of his previous teams, and he might not be willing to play off-ball as much. Even if Butler leaves Philadelphia, though, Dallas doesn’t seem to be a likely destination for him.
Potential Great Fits
Another 76er that’s on the market, Harris is a player that I believe a lot of Mavs fans would love to see in Dallas. With Luka and Kristaps being the two cornerstones for this franchise right now, another star that Dallas would need is a wing scorer, similar to Thompson and Butler. Harris fits that, and is having an all-star caliber season, averaging 20.8 points and 7.8 rebounds, while shooting about 50% from the court and 44% from three. Harris is a player that can create his own shot, hit threes consistently, score in the post, and hold his own on the defensive end. His attitude is also a major plus given the fact that he probably won’t have the ball in his hands most of the time with Luka and Porzingis on the court. Harris is only 26, so he hasn’t even entered his prime. A combination of him, Doncic, and Porzingis could be deadly for years to come. However, Harris was just traded to the 76ers, and reports have come out saying that Philly intends to keep him long-term. It is possible, though, for things to not work out in Philadelphia, and if that happens, the Mavs would be smart to chase Harris as he would be a great fit with this young core.
Middleton is another player that I believe would fit greatly with the Mavericks core of Luka and Kristaps. Much like Harris, Middleton is a great wing shooter that can also defend and distribute at above-average clips. Middleton earned his first all-star selection this year averaging 17.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 4.2 assists. While he’s a great talent and only 27 years old, I find it hard to believe he’d want to leave the situation he’s in right now with Milwaukee leading the East and having an MVP-caliber teammate in Giannis Antetokounmpo. Middleton has also openly stated how much he loves playing with the Bucks, so while his fit in Dallas would be ideal, the safe bet is to assume that he ends up staying right where he is.
More Likely Additions
Vucevic is a guy that has apparently been on the Mavs radar. After the Porzingis and Barnes trades, reports came out that the Mavs were going to go after the first-time all star in free agency. While I believe the Mavs need a wing scorer more than another big man, Vucevic and Porzingis could create a deadly combo in the paint. The 28-year-old Vucevic is having a career season in his first all-star campaign, averaging over 20 points and almost 12 rebounds. The Montenegrin big man has also recently stated that he would love to play with Dirk Nowitzki in the All-Star game this weekend in Charlotte and got his wish on Team Giannis yesterday. With the Magic likely going in a different direction, don’t be surprised to see Vucevic in a Mavs jersey next season.
Randle, a Dallas native, is someone who has also been involved in many Mavs rumors over the last couple of years, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him finally end up in Dallas this summer. Having a career season with around 20 points and 9 rebounds per game, the 24-year old forward is a high-energy player that can do almost everything on the court. He’s a good rebounder and passer, can handle the ball well for a player his size, and can finish above the rim with his athletic ability. With his youth and all-around game, Randle could be a valuable addition to the young core that the Mavericks are building.
Outside of these six free agents, there are multiple other all-star caliber players that will hit the market this summer but either don’t fit with the Mavericks or would likely not find their way to Dallas, including Kemba Walker, D’Angelo Russell, Nikola Mirotic (who I also think fits greatly with the Mavs, but will likely stay in Milwaukee), and DeMarcus Cousins.
Despite Dallas’ recent failures in free agency, they could find a change in fortune in the near future with more cap space to work with and a new young nucleus in Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, who should also be locked up long-term soon with the Mavericks.
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