Maverick fans are all too familiar with the team swinging and flagrantly missing on nearly every offseason target they have pursued. This time around, Kyle Lowry is in Nico Harrison and the crew’s crosshairs. With several other potential suitors for the six-time All-Star, Dallas has to be prepared for the possibility they get their latest offseason rejection.
Unfortunately, this is an unusually poor free agent class, with few to no players being worthy of a max contract, and even fewer that could realistically choose Dallas. Lowry appears to be done in Toronto, but the Pelicans are a major destination for him. The Raptors could easily pursue some intriguing sign-and-trade opportunities for Lonzo Ball in the event Lowry does bolt for New Orleans. That would obviously wipe out a potential pursuit of Ball at the same time, leaving Dallas with Dennis Schroeder, Alex Caruso, Cameron Payne, and Patty Mills as the best remaining options with some degree of feasibility.
Dallas is a little too far into the contention game to suddenly aim to take on bad salary in exchange for a draft pick or some other asset. Eric Bledsoe is indeed an interesting name to watch, as he played some very solid basketball under Jason Kidd in Milwaukee, and would undoubtedly help solve some of Dallas’ eternally poor perimeter defense. Taking Bledsoe from the Grizzlies with a couple of second rounders, or potentially even Grayson Allen is one avenue to consider.
Another logical name on the list is Goran Dragic. The Slovenian has a long history not only with Luka Doncic, but new assistant Igor Kokoskov. Dragic is 35 years old however, making his long-term appeal nearly non-existent. Dallas has one of the league’s top players and a few others that require defensive attention, but that doesn’t mean coughing up huge chunks of change for aging veterans is the best business model for management. As of yesterday, the Heat have picked up Dragic’s player option but rumors swirl that this move is part of an attempt at a sign and trade with Toronto to grab Kyle Lowry. Dragic’s contract could eventually be bought out.
Another potential option is to consider a sign-and-trade option with Tim Hardaway Jr. The Heat have been rumored to have interest in THJ, but Dallas can probably find a better taker for him somewhere else. The Philadelphia 76ers have been starving for shooting for ages, and could look to re-pair sniper Seth Curry with fellow sharpshooter Hardaway Jr. The obvious return on this is Ben Simmons. The Mavericks would have to do some cap gymnastics to make this work, but it is a legitimate possibility for a team in need of more ball handlers.
One last thing to consider is simply playing the cap space game, and taking another bite at the apple next year, rather than panicking and throwing multiple years at a player they didn’t otherwise want. Players like Malik Monk, Kelly Oubre, Victor Oladipo, and Frank Ntilikina are all potential players to consider on short prove-it contracts. Monk and Ntilikina are restricted free agents and would need to have their qualifying offers renounced.
All told, the Mavericks simply cannot continue to recklessly settle for their third and fourth options in free agency just to fill out a roster. Rather, they should simply hang onto their resources, and continue to scour the market for players who have a potential spot in the long-term picture.
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