The Dallas Mavericks will look to make some sort of adjustment to their roster before the trade deadline. One of the most likely candidates to be re-routed elsewhere is Tim Hardaway Jr. There are positives and negatives to this scenario.
Pro #1: Financial Relief
The Mavericks have been suffering from a lack of financial flexibility ever since Nico Harrison’s first year in charge. That’s not necessarily his fault, but the Mavericks locked themselves into their current core when they signed Reggie Bullock and Tim Hardaway Jr. to multi-year deals. Since then, Dallas has had little to no ability to add to their roster in free agency. Losing Jalen Brunson was at least in some part a contractual and luxury tax issue, and JaVale McGee consequently was the largest contract the team could afford in free agency.
Trading away Hardaway Jr., in the event an expiring contract is received in return, saves the Mavericks the final two years on his 4-year/ $75,000,000 deal. The contract is descending in annual salary, but the Mavericks aren’t going to get much relief from small decreases in his exorbitant salary. The Mavericks wouldn’t dip below the salary cap by trading Hardaway Jr. alone, but it would open up some sign-and-trade possibilities that they don’t currently have at their disposal.
Con #1: Loss of Shooting
Hardaway Jr. is one of the most up-and-down players you will find across the entire league. It seems as though one out of every four-to-five games, he catches fire and shoots the Mavericks into a winning position within a couple of possessions. He will invariably come crashing back down to earth shortly thereafter, but he remains a sharpshooting threat every time he takes the floor.
In the Mavs wins this season (27), Hardaway Jr. is shooting 39.4% beyond the arc and the chemistry with Luka Dončić is evident since he was inserted into the starting lineup. With the amount of great shooting around the NBA, it does feel like bad business to be paying one such shooter this much money. Dallas shouldn’t have the most difficult time ever finding someone to replace Hardaway’s 35% outside shooting clip, but he was also a key part of the recent Mavs team under Rick Carlisle that at the time set the all-time record for offensive efficiency at 116.7. Dallas would have to find themselves a replacement and quickly.
Pro #2: Roster shakeup
No one paying attention would deny this has been a trying season for the Mavericks. They have a disappointing record without much of a chance of getting a seed high enough to secure home court deep into the playoffs. Dallas needs some kind new and fresh blood into this roster, and trading the fourth-year Maverick might help facilitate that. Hardaway Jr. has not been good since Jason Kidd took over, albeit with a significant injury sidelining him for a chunk of last season and throughout the entire playoff run.
What sort of return the Mavericks get isn’t yet known, but it’s unlikely to be anything too exciting. The Mavericks are short on second-round picks that can get them Jaden Hardy-type players, and are still feeling the effects of the first-round picks sent to the Knicks for Kristaps Porziņģis and Hardaway Jr. Finding some new pieces to the roster and potentially some second-round picks can help Dallas get out from under this stale roster.
Con #2: Leadership
Say what you want about Hardaway Jr., but there is no questioning the man’s dedication and leadership on this team. For as much attention as Theo Pinson receives for being the league’s best hype man, Hardaway Jr. was as engaged and involved on the sideline as anyone else all last year and beyond. He’s universally liked across the league and in spite of never finding a shot he didn’t like, never tries to play above his abilities.
Dallas will miss his impact on the team’s chemistry. It’s not often a player with the splits Hardaway Jr. has accumulated as a shooter while in the starting lineup takes less money to remain with the team, recovers from a serious foot injury, and still gives the team just enough to justify his place in the rotation. It says a good bit about a player that two respected coaches have trusted him as much as they have since he came to Dallas. That’s going to be missed in Dallas.
Categories: 2022-23 Season, Mavs Fans For Life
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