The Dallas Mavericks are a team that is in the process of making changes. GM Donnie Nelson and Coach Rick Carlisle have already left, and it is clear that the organization is taking a different direction.
The roster around Luka Doncic needs some work before it can become a contender: the Dallas Mavericks have been eliminated in the first round for two years straight by the Los Angeles Clippers, and perhaps it's time to try a new formula. Here is the perfect plan for the Dallas Mavericks.
Dallas Mavericks Must Clear Salary
To make solid moves in free agency, you generally need to have some cap space to work with, though sign and trades are possible but rarer. Having cap space allows a team to sign top-tier free agents.
The best/easiest way to clear space would likely be to trade Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell, and potentially Josh Richardson if he accepts his player option. Josh Richardson didn't have the best playoff run, so there may be reasons for him to accept guaranteed money. The Dallas Mavericks also have a team option on Willie Cauley-Stein, but in this scenario, they would reject it to have more cap space.
The one player that is likely to stay is Jalen Brunson, as he is a solid point guard on a cheap contract, so it makes common sense for the Dallas Mavericks to retain him. After all the moves are done, the only huge contract on the roster is Kristaps Porzingis, who will be covered later. The Dallas Mavericks will then have around $55.19 million left in contract on their roster. The salary cap is projected to be slightly above $112 million, and that means the Dallas Mavericks would have around $57 million to work with in free agency.
The Priorities In Free Agency
The Dallas Mavericks will clear a lot of space with this plan, but who will they sign to bolster their roster? The first priority would be to get some quality veteran players who can give Luka Doncic a helping hand on the offensive end.
DeMar DeRozan will be a free agent after this season. Perhaps the San Antonio Spurs will listen to a potential sign and trade offer, with the Richardson, Powell, and Kleber contracts being sent their way for DeMar DeRozan, as well as a future pick as an incentive for the deal. However if not, the Dallas Mavericks will still be able to sign him outright, to a deal that is worth around $20 million annually. DeRozan would give the Mavericks another shot creator, something that is desperately needed on the team.
Kyle Lowry will be a free agent as well, and a potential reunion with DeMar DeRozan could appeal to him. While obviously, Luka Doncic is the main draw for both players, re-uniting on the Dallas Mavericks on a contender is far from the worst option for both of them. With 37 million left over in cap space, the Dallas Mavericks could easily sign Kyle Lowry to a fairly lucrative deal. Kyle Lowry would take some of the playmaking duties off of Luka Doncic and let Doncic thrive with less defensive attention thrown his way.
Luka Doncic is known for his offensive firepower, but not necessarily his defense. A lot of contenders have had solid defensive players on their roster, and perhaps Alex Caruso can be that player for them. Caruso is a solid defender with a passable jump shot: he shot 40.1% from the 3PT range this season, albeit on low volume. There is no doubt that he would be a solid defensive role player.
The last player who the Dallas Mavericks should sign is Goran Dragic. Goran Dragic and Luka Doncic are good friends, and they have played together on the Slovenian national team. He could be a great 6th man at either guard position behind DeRozan and Lowry and would give them the offensive presence their bench sorely needs.
Trade Kristaps Porzingis And 2025 First-Round Pick For Myles Turner
Kristaps Porzingis had an overall solid season, averaging 20.1 PPG, 8.9 RPG, and 1.6 APG, with 37.6% from beyond the arc. However, there is no question that his production dropped in the playoffs, and with the moves in this plan, it is likely that the Dallas Mavericks will not need another scorer on the team. Perhaps a defensive center who can space the floor would be a better fit on the team.
Myles Turner of the Indiana Pacers fits the bill on what the Dallas Mavericks would be looking for. While it is hard to imagine the Indiana Pacers taking on Kristaps Porzingis' contract straight up, the Dallas Mavericks would throw in a future pick. This trade could happen with a sweetener, especially if the Indiana Pacers believe in Porzingis' upside. Porzingis' usage rate dropped in the playoffs, but if he's healthy, then he is still a solid offensive player. The Indiana Pacers would also likely send out some salary filler for the deal to work.
Myles Turner is a two-time block champion and is easily one of the best defensive players in the game. He would be capable of anchoring the defense, while also playing a complementary role on the offensive end.
The Perfect Team Around Luka Doncic
The starting lineup of this potential team would be Kyle Lowry, Luka Doncic, DeMar DeRozan, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Myles Turner. They would have solid players like Jalen Brunson and Goran Dragic off the bench as well, and they could potentially sign some ring-chasing veterans like Serge Ibaka, Paul Millsap, and Trevor Ariza.
There is no doubt that this plan provides the Dallas Mavericks with some more offense, lessening the load on Luka Doncic. He would have other capable ballhandlers in the lineup such as Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, while also having great veterans who can fill a role.
Luka Doncic is one of the best offensive players in the NBA: the playoffs have shown us as much. It is up to the Dallas Mavericks to surround him with a contending roster, and they have the potential to do that if they make the right moves.