Shortly after the team’s conference finals elimination a year ago, it was team governor Mark Cuban who expressed a great deal of confidence in the potential re-signing of free agent guard Jalen Brunson.
Cuban stated, “We can pay him more than anyone,” After Brunson’s standout playoff performance, why wouldn’t the Mavericks pay him?
There has been so much speculation on the real reason why Brunson ended up in New York. Were the Mavericks, contrary to Cuban’s comments, unwilling to outbid the Knicks? Would he have actually accepted the $55M extension if it was offered back before the trade deadline? Was the hiring of Brunson’s father (Rick) the end all be all?
What we do know for sure is that Brunson didn’t grant the Mavericks a meeting, as it became apparent prior to free agency officially beginning that he was going to sign with New York on a deal worth $104M across four years.
Retaining Brunson was atop Dallas’ priority list in the offseason of 2022, and they failed. Similarly, keeping another free agent guard in, Kyrie Irving, is the 2023 offseason priority.
This offseason for the Mavericks is shaping up to be a make-or-break in the Luka Doncic era. The Mavericks took a swing at finding Doncic’s ‘Robin’ in Kristaps Porzingis and missed. It was clear when Porzingis was traded away that Dallas was searching for a player that could be that co-star.
Sure, Brunson certainly could have been that – as a matter of fact, he was that during the 2022 playoff run. Even then, the roster wasn’t ready to compete at the level of a team such as the Golden State Warriors.
The same remains true today. Even with the luxury of having two All-NBA guards in Doncic and Irving, Dallas finished 5-11 in games in which both players were seen in.
While it’s clear that Dallas intends to re-sign Irving, the areas of need remain just as important. The biggest question will be, who becomes available? Will we see a fire sale similar to what the Jazz did a year ago?
Retaining Irving is just the first step in building a championship-caliber team. While Doncic is insistent that there is ‘nothing to worry about’ when it comes to his long-term future with the team, there’s a sense of urgency for this team to win.
In an optimistic lens, Dallas is poised to retain their first-round pick this offseason if the stars align. This pick could potentially be used on a player who can make an immediate impact or even packaged for a veteran presence to fill a roster need.
It is most likely that Irving will be back next year, mainly because teams would have to make a multitude of moves just to open up the roster space. But after the Brunson fiasco, Mavs fans will hold their breath until it’s official.