The Dallas Mavericks have a gem in Luka Doncic, and they have quickly found their next franchise star after the retirement of Dirk Nowitzki. With Doncic on the roster, Dallas has made the playoffs the past 2 seasons and are trying to build a contender right away. After all, the Slovenian is a generational talent.
But Dallas Mavericks have not progressed past the first round in Luka's reign, which is expected as they were in rebuild mode before they got lucky with the No. 3 pick in 2018. This year, they fell to the heavy favorites Los Angeles Clippers in 7 games despite taking a 2-0 lead in the series. Looking to next season, it is clear the Dallas Mavericks have a lot of work to do to improve the roster.
Luka Doncic could be the first player in NBA history to receive a $200 million rookie extension deal to keep him in Dallas for the long term. Based on his production in his first 3 seasons as a 22-year old, he deserves that contract. But Dallas must build a contender very quickly and they must field a better roster next year. Here is the Dallas Mavericks' plan to create the best possible roster to help Luka Doncic lead them in a deep playoff run in 2022.
Role Players That Mavs Could Land
Derrick Rose - Scoring And Playmaking (FA)
Derrick Rose is a name that was in trade rumors this year because he is an experienced veteran who can score and create for his teammates. He was nabbed by the Knicks and had a strong season for them by helping them get to the playoffs. Rose averaged 14.7 PPG and 4.2 APG for the entire season and was in the running for the 6th Man of the Year Award. Rose will relieve Doncic by starting or coming off the bench for the Mavericks.
Montrezl Harrell - Scoring And Post Depth (FA)
Montrezl Harrell had a very disappointing season with the Los Angeles Lakers. After signing with the Clippers' rival this year, many fans and pundits felt Harrell put himself in a position to play big minutes and win a championship with the Purple and Gold. After all, the Lakers got rid of their size in Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee. But Harrell only played minutes in the postseason and he could be looking for a new team. Dallas needed better post play and inside scoring and Harrell could be the answer as the 2020 6th Man of the Year winner.
Alex Caruso - Defense (FA)
Alex Caruso is another Laker who could be looking for a new team and a new chance to showcase his skills. Caruso is a key part of the Lakers bench but he could have a shot at proving he is worth more than that. Dallas needs guards who can attack the rim, make shots, and play hard-nosed defense. Caruso fits that bill as a 6'4" point guard, and he could average well above his 5.9 career PPG average with Dallas next year.
PJ Tucker - Defense (FA)
The Houston Rockets offloaded PJ Tucker, a win-now player, to the Milwaukee Bucks this season. Tucker is 36 years old and even at his age, he can do the dirty work such as taking charges and playing defense. The Mavericks could have used Tucker to bother Kawhi Leonard this postseason and have a chance next year to grab him for a veteran's minimum contract. His playoff experience with Houston will be exactly what Dallas needs to take the next step.
Serge Ibaka - Defense And Post Depth (FA)
Serge Ibaka has been dealing with a bad back and hasn't had an impact for the Clippers this postseason, but he should be healthy next year. For the Mavericks, Serge Ibaka can do similar to what Kristaps Porzingis did this year except for a much cheaper deal. Ibaka averaged 11.1 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 1.1 BPG in only 23.3 minutes of play. The 31-year old can still defend the paint and hit the outside shot, so Dallas can improve their depth with the big man.
Andre Drummond - Defense and Rebounding (FA)
Many thought the Los Angeles Lakers bought themselves a one-way ticket to the NBA Finals again this year after they signed Andre Drummond in free agency. Drummond was bought out by the Cleveland Cavaliers despite averaging 17.5 PPG and 13.5 RPG, numbers he could put up playing alongside Luka Doncic next year. Drummond is a limited big man on offense but catching lobs from Luka and defending the rim makes him a key target for Dallas this offseason.
Goran Dragic - Chemistry And Experience (Trade)
Goran Dragic is 35 years old and cannot offer more than the 26.7 MPG he played for the Miami Heat this season. When Dragic is healthy, he can play a vital role for any team he's on because he can score and create for others. Most importantly, he is part of the Slovenian National Team that will surely be good news for Luka Doncic. Team chemistry is an important part of building a contender and Dragic could bring veteran leadership to this hungry Dallas Mavericks team.
Marcus Smart - Defense And Shooting (Trade)
Marcus Smart is making his case as one of the best defensive guards since he entered the NBA in the 2014 Draft. Smart is strong, active, and plays hard on both ends of the floor. This year for the Celtics, Smart averaged 13.1 PPG and 5.7 APG while adding 1.5 SPG. Smart is easily a starting-caliber player and alongside Dorian Finney-Smith, he could be part of a lockdown defensive duo in the Mavericks lineup.
NBA Stars That Could Help Doncic
DeMar DeRozan (FA)
DeMar DeRozan is a free agent after averaging 21.6 PPG and 6.9 APG for the San Antonio Spurs this season. DeRozan played so well that he almost made the All-Star Team in a crowded Western Conference with tons of talent. Even when he prefers to score from the mid-range rather than from three, he is a very capable star in today's NBA. DeRozan is a go-to scoring option that Luka Doncic would relish playing alongside.
Kyle Lowry (FA)
Kyle Lowry is one of the most professional stars in the NBA. He worked hard to become a 6-time All-Star and there is no question he was the vocal leader of the Toronto Raptors championship team in 2019. Lowry is a perfect sidekick to feed off a superstar because he can shoot from outside, play tough defense, and is very unselfish. Lowry averaged 17.2 PPG this season so he still has a lot to offer to contending teams.
Myles Turner (Trade)
Myles Turner is a player that is very likely to be traded this offseason. He is a very useful center in today's NBA because he blocks shots (3.4 BPG) and shoots the three-pointer (33.5%). While Turner isn't an All-Star, he is a very impactful defensive player who can shore up the paint better than Kristaps Porzingis can. Speaking of Porzingis, the way the Mavericks can acquire Turner is by moving on from "The Unicorn".
CJ McCollum (Trade)
CJ McCollum is a scoring machine, something Luka Doncic could have used in the first round against the Los Angeles Clippers. McCollum averaged 23.1 PPG as the second option behind Damian Lillard in Portland, and he could do the same in Dallas behind Luka Doncic. McCollum has yet to make an All-Star Team but his pure offensive firepower is great enough to win games.
Unrealistic Targets For Mavs This Summer
Dallas fans can dream of Jimmy Butler, but it's not happening. Butler is a Miami Heat player through and through, and he fits in that organization like a glove. As the franchise player and leader for the Heat, it is very unlikely he would entertain a deal that would send him to Dallas to be the second fiddle to Luka Doncic. Miami also won't trade him for anyone on the Mavericks roster so Butler is an unrealistic option for Dallas.
Every team dreams of trading for Karl-Anthony Towns, but Minnesota won't let him go for any package Dallas has to offer. Towns is a rare big man who has no weakness in his skill set, so a duo with Doncic could be the best in the West right now if it were to happen. But much like Jimmy Butler, Towns is untouchable for now and that means he won't be a Dallas Maverick anytime soon.
Bradley Beal is a scoring machine, averaging 31.3 PPG for the Washington Wizards this year. He doesn't need any time to get going, and he was even capable of stealing a game against the #1 seeded Philadelphia 76ers in the first round this year. Beal is an offensive superstar, which means his value is sky-high right now. The Wizards would not entertain a deal for Kristaps Porzingis or anyone else on Dallas except Luka, which makes this combination unrealistic.
Mavericks Must Trade Kristaps Porzingis For Myles Turner And Re-Sign Tim Hardaway Jr
Kristaps Porzingis had a rough year for the Mavericks, and he doesn't look like anything he used to be when he was in New York. The days of the "Unicorn" could be over because Porzingis is very comfortable chucking up threes all game it seems. He is still a capable player in the modern NBA game but he isn't the answer for Dallas right now.
He must be traded as soon as possible, and Myles Turner is the most attractive option. Turner is a much more dominant defensive player and can actually bang down low to help out the interior a bit more. Along with Porzingis, Dallas should consider trading Josh Richardson, Maxi Kleber, and Dwight Powell to clear cap space. Richardson is a solid 3-and-D role player but he can be made expendable because Tim Hardaway Jr is a priority. The shooting guard averaged 16.6 PPG for Dallas this year and his sharpshooting is invaluable when Doncic gets double and triple-teamed. Along with Richardson, Powell and Kleber can be moved to allow Turner to occupy significant minutes.
With these trades, Dallas can have approximately $41 million in cap space after the signing of Tim Hardaway Jr (for around $20 million per year). With this cap space, they can afford to sign 4 key free agents with the names of Kyle Lowry, Montrezl Harrell, Alex Caruso, and Derrick Rose.
The Best Roster Dallas Mavericks Can Create
The best possible roster that the Dallas Mavericks can build next year is by signing 4 free agents and making a trade across conferences. The most important part of the Mavericks plan is swapping Kristaps Porzingis for defensive center Myles Turner. Turner can nail the outside shot like Porzingis except he is a much more active defender. The deal also gives Dallas the leverage to sign 4 key free agents to help Luka Doncic carry the Mavericks to a deep playoff run.
The best free agents the Mavericks can sign are Kyle Lowry and Montrezl Harrell. Lowry is a 6-time All-Star who won the 2019 NBA championship, so he is the perfect piece for Luka to trust with the ball and provide championship experience. Expect Lowry to be offered a salary of around $18-20 million per year. Montrezl Harrell was a star last year, even if he had a very disappointing campaign with the Lakers in 2021. Harrell averaged 18.6 PPG and 7.1 RPG last year so there is easily a case for the big man to produce similar numbers with Dallas with a contract valued at $10-12 million.
The last two free agents are Alex Caruso and Derrick Rose. The Mavericks bench is a major problem and we saw how Luka Doncic was forced to do everything for the Dallas Mavericks in the playoffs this year. Derrick Rose was in the running for the 6th Man of the Year Award and can come in to light it up when Lowry or Doncic is on the bench. Caruso is tough and is an above-average defensive guard who doesn't back down from anyone. Rose and Caruso could both sign for mid-level deals to complete the Dallas Mavericks overhaul.
These 4 key free agents alongside Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Myles Turner will place the Mavericks in the mix for a Western Conference Finals berth.