The Dallas Mavericks are locked and loaded with cap space this summer to try to build a Championship caliber team around their two young superstars, Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. Rumors are flying around every big name free agent and Mavs fans are salivating at the chance to add a third star to the squad.
Despite their amazing facilities, cap space, and great young talent it is hard to see a top level free agent coming to Dallas because it is something we have not witnessed in recent history. More commonplace has been the Mavericks doing all they can to clear the roster and woo superstars just to be left holding a bag of money to spend on mediocre talent.
Now, if you can’t have hope in sports then what is left to believe in these days? Perhaps having one of the best young duo’s in the league will finally be the tipping point to change our fate. I am all for being positive that a free agent will finally choose Dallas but history tells us we better temper our expectations. Here is a list of the top free agent the Mavericks have signed each of the last 10 years to get an idea of what free agent reality has been for the Mavs over the past decade.
This list will not include draft picks or any free agent that the Mavericks retianed from the previous season. Therefore you won’t see Dirk on this list, we will strictly be looking at players that chose to come to the Mavs rather than just stay with the Mavs.
2009 – Drew Gooden
In the Summer of 2009, the Mavs were coming off a year when they went 50-32 and lost in the 2nd round of the Playoffs to Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, and the Denver Nuggets. Looking to add talent to get over the hump and get back to the NBA Finals they signed Marcin Gortat to a 5yr/$34M offer sheet early in free agency. The Orlando Magic matched Gortat’s offer sheet and the Mavs eventually had to settle for 28 year old Drew Gooden on a 1yr/$4.5M deal.
The previous season, before signing with the Mavs, Gooden bounced around to three different teams, the Bulls, the Kings, and the Spurs while averaging about 12 points and 7 rebounds per game. Just 7 years removed from being the 4th overall pick in the 2002 NBA draft out of Kansas, Gooden was not quite living up to the hype.
His run in Dallas was short lived, he did not even get to play out his entire 1 year contract with the Mavs as he was traded along with Josh Howard and others to the Washington Wizards for Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, and Deshawn Stevenson. Despite not having much of an impact for the Mavs on the court, his favorable contract helped as an add-on to acquire 3 players that would eventually help the Mavs bring home the one and only Championship in franchise history.
Some other notable transactions this year was the retention of Jason Kidd and a big 4 team trade that sent away Jerry Stackhouse and brought in Shawn Marion.
2010 – Peja Stojakovic
In the middle of the 2010-2011 season, the Mavericks were 28-15 in late January and looking to add some perimeter shooting to bolster an already talented roster. Luckily for them, one of the best shooters in NBA history was just waived by the Toronto Raptors. On January 24, 2011 Peja Stojakovic signed a minimum deal with the Mavs to play out the final year of his career, and what a year it was…
2011 Playoff Stats
7 points per game in the Playoffs may not seem like much but Peja played a pivotal role in the Mavs Championship Playoff run. The Mavs offense was predicated on floor spacing and ball movement. While defenses were chasing around JJ Barea and trying to double Dirk in the post, there was Peja spotted up on the three point line waiting to let it fly. All of this came to a head in the second round matchup against the Lakers when Peja went 6 for 6 from three for 21 points in the 122-86 win in game 4 to complete the sweep.
2011 – Vince Carter
2011 was the summer that the Mavericks let some of their top guys walk away in free agency so they could have a shot at acquiring Dwight Howard. Just months after winning the NBA Championship we saw beloved Mavs like Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea, Caron Butler, and DeShawn Stevenson sign with new teams and the Mavs get absolutely nothing. It wasn’t until December that they actually made a signing worth talking about.
After being bought out by the Phoenix Suns in December of 2011, the 8x All-Star quickly agreed to a mini-mid level exception deal with the Dallas Mavericks on a 3 year deal. 35 years old at the time, Carter’s best days were certainly past, but that did not stop him from being a productive member of the Mavericks team for several seasons. More of a shooter than a dunker at this point, Carter was able to knock down shots efficiently and make plays for his teammates effectively.
Vince Carter is a fan favorite on whichever team he plays for but he will always have a special place in Mavs fans hearts for his performance in the first round of the 2014 Playoffs against the #1 seed San Antonio Spurs. In a tight, hard fought game in the American Airlines Center, Vince Carter made magic happen with just 1.7 seconds left on the clock. A buzzer beater to win a Playoff game is a special moment that I will never forget, and I have Vince to thank for that.
2012 – O.J. Mayo
O.J. May was the 3rd overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves (right behind D-Rose and Michael Beasley and just ahead of Westbrook and Love) and just 4 years later he found himself signing a 1yr/$4M deal with the Dallas Mavericks.
Before coming to the Mavs, Mayo was having an underwhelming season with the Memphis Grizzlies, especially for someone who was recently a top overall pick. Despite being written off as a total bust, Mayo actually had a very productive season in Dallas. 15 points per game, 3.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 41% three point shooting are all very respectable numbers.
Despite averaging a career high 4.4 assists, Mayo was a turnover machine with 2.6 per game. This was a really hard year for Mavs fans as Dirk missed the first 27 games and it was the first time the Mavericks didn’t make the Playoffs since the 1999-2000 season.
The next year Mayo left the Mavericks and signed with the Milwaukee Bucks. After 3 years with the Bucks OJ Mayo failed his second NBA drug test and was suspended from the NBA for two years for violating the Anti-Drug Program. Chalk Mayo up as one of those guys with incredible talent that never got his head screwed on straight and left a lot of basketball, and money, on the table when his career was said and done.
2013 – Monta Ellis
When the 2013 offseason started, the Mavericks had their eyes set on some big fish, namely Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. CP3 quickly resigned with the Clippers and despite the Mavs best pitch, Dwight Howard chose the Texas rival Houston Rockets for his next destination.
Even though they missed out on the big names, the Mavericks did a pretty good job of rebuilding a team around Dirk Nowitzki by bringing in Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon, Devin Harris, and Samuel Dalembert. They were not the most talented team but they were a ton of fun to watch, they could score, and they were able to sneak into the Playoffs as an 8 seed. With the heart of Monta Ellis and the Savvy of a 35 year old Dirk Nowitzki they were able to push the #1 seed and eventual NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs to a hard fought 7 game series.
Monta played really good basketball for the Mavericks in his two years here, continuing the scoring and playmaking he had shown in Milwaukee the year before. He has never been much of a three point shooter but he is so effective getting in the lane and making things happen. With Ellis handling the ball and Dirk holding it down in the post, the Mavericks were able to produce one of the most efficient offenses in the NBA.
Monta was probably the best free agent that the Mavericks have signed in the last 10 years but unfortunately he only had two first round Playoff exits to show for it.
2014 – Chandler Parsons
This was a summer of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony free agency. Rather than wasting their time with these guys the Mavs focused on more realistic options. Chandler Parson was a 25 year old sharpshooter with the Houston Rockets who managed to develop a really good all-around game despite being the 38th overall pick in the 2011 draft. Entering the summer as a Restricted Free Agent, the Mavericks were able to pry Parsons away from the Rockets with a 3yr/$46M deal.
Parsons played well for a 50 win Mavericks team in his first season in Dallas but was never able to fully live up to his potential because of his knee injuries. Each year when it seemed like he was getting it going and the Mavericks had a chance to advance in the Playoffs, down went Parsons. In the 2015 Playoffs against his old team, the Houston Rockets, Parsons was only able to play in 1 of the 5 games as the Mavs founds themselves another first round exit. The next season he didn’t play in a single Playoff game as the Mavs were bounced int he first round by the OKC Thunder.
I never fault Parsons for his time with the Mavs, I was at a game this past season when he returned to the AAC as a member of the Memphis Grizzlies and there were a ton of Mavs fans booing him every time he touched the ball. This is an ignorant reaction by fans who don’t remember the real story. When Parsons was on the floor he was good, unfortunately his body just could not hold up when it mattered most.
2015 – DeAndre Jordan, wait no…Wesley Matthews
The Mavericks came into the 2015 offseason with a 50 win team, a still deadly Dirk Nowitzki, and cap space for a max deal. This time Cuban and the Mavericks thought they had their guy, it looked like after years of being unable to attract a top player that they had finally convinced someone to sign a big time deal in Dallas. DeAndre Jordan was coming off a season where he averaged 11.5 points, 15 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game while shooting 71% from the field, and he was about to be ours. Or so we thought…
Jordan had reportedly agreed to a 4 year deal worth more than $80M to come be the enforcer, defender, and roll-man that the Mavs so desperately needed. He agreed to the deal once free agency started but then wavered during the 1 week moratorium before free agents can actually ink the deal. During that time twitter was on fire as Clippers coaches and players rushed to Jordan’s home in Texas to try to convince him to stay. In the end, the Clippers one the emoji battle and DeAndre backed out of his deal, an unprecedented move in NBA Free Agency.
Wesley Matthews, meanwhile had already agreed to a 4yr/$57M deal to leave Portland and head to Dallas after passing up a more lucrative 4yr/$65M deal with the Sacramento Kings. After DeAndre backed out of his deal the Mavericks actually had to bump their offer to Matthews up to a 4yr/$70M deal that Mavs fans really never were able to cope with. Coming off a torn achilles the year before, the Mavs gave some big money to Matthews to avoid all of their free agents walking out the door.
Despite working his way back on to the court from that injury in record time, playing his heart on every night, and being a pretty productive player, MFFLs everywhere could not get over the amount of money going to Wes. Nobody questions his leadership or work ethic, they just question whether or not the Mavs should have given him a pay raise after he already agreed to a lesser deal.
2016 – Harrison Barnes
The year after averaging less than 12 points and 5 rebounds per game the Dallas Mavericks threw Harrison Barnes a 4yr/$94M max deal. Despite throwing up a dud in the 2016 NBA Finals averaging 9.2 points per game on 35% shooting as the Golden State Warriors lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Mavs decided to make Barnes the cornerstone of their rebuild. Yes he was young, athletic, and skilled, but you can’t help but think they overreached big time based on his production.
He was extremely productive and efficient for the Mavs over his two and a half seasons here but made it pretty clear he cannot be the go-to option on a winning team.
In February this year, in the middle of a game, news spread throughout the arena that the Mavs had traded Barnes to the Sacramento Kings for Justin Jackson and Zack Randolph.
Just recently we have heard reports that Harrison Barnes will opt-out of the final year of his deal with Sacramento and become an unrestricted free agent this summer. It is hard to see Barnes earning more than $25M next season so it will be interesting to see what his motivation is here. Perhaps he is just looking to lengthen his deal while he is healthy or maybe he just did not want to play in Sacramento and pay those ridiculous California state taxes, who knows.
2017 – Maxi Kleber
The Mavericks were in full tank mode this summer. Rather than trying to overpay for mediocre talent (they had already done that the previous two seasons) they opted to find low cost players that they could develop. They found a gem in Maxi Kleber on a 2yr/$2M deal, the then 26 year old from Wurzburg, Germany, the same small town Dirk Nowitzki is from.
Kleber protects the rim with reckless abandon, as shown by his 1.4 blocks per 36 minutes. Not only that but he is a versatile defender. He can switch onto smaller players and not look completely out of place, a very valuable skill in today’s hyper switching NBA.
Of players who played at least 40 games for the Mavericks this season Kleber was actually the 4th most efficient three point shooter behind Ryan Broekhoff, Wes Matthews, and Harrison Barnes. A versatile defender who can protect the rim and space the floor fits the mold of the modern day Forward/Center perfectly.
Maxi is now a restricted free agent this coming summer and I would love to have him back in Dallas. It will be interesting to see what kind of offers he receives from other teams but hopefully he is partial to the team that gave him his shot in the NBA and has allowed him to develop into the player he is today.
2018 – DeAndre Jordan, for real this time…
After drafting Luka Doncic in June of 2018 the Dallas Mavericks were done trying to lose game. The tank was over and the focus quickly transitioned to putting pieces around Luka Doncic to help him and the Mavericks succeed.
After being spurned a few years earlier, the Mavericks were finally able to lure the big man from Texas A&M to Dallas on a 1yr/$23M deal.
He was no longer a Defensive Player of the Year candidate as he often was earlier in his career but he could still finish efficiently and rebounds with the best of them. DeAndre put up solid numbers for the Mavs from the Center position but it really seemed like he was still not fully committed to the Mavs and did not give it his all on game day. Sure he pulled down a ton of rebounds and blocked some shots but he was very reluctant to rotate and play team defense.
It looked like he was more concerned with padding his own stats to prepare for a new contract the following year rather than helping the team win. Just look at this infamous play where he nearly knocks Luka to the ground to grab an uncontested defensive rebound.
Regardless, DeAndre’s expiring contract still had value for the Mavs as he helped them acquire Kristaps Porzingis from the New York Knicks in the January blockbuster deal. I am not going to lie, it is a bit petty, but I enjoyed seeing the Mavericks ship Jordan off to the worst team in the league after the move he pulled in free agency a few years earlier.