The Dallas Mavericks are entering a crucial summer regarding the future of the franchise and the team building around Luka Doncic. The Mavs ended the season on a high-note as they concluded the year as the Western Conference Finalists.
Starting from a great last-part of the season run, the Mavericks gave away Kristaps Porzingis at the trade deadline to add another ball-dominant guard alongside Doncic in Spencer Dinwiddie. In addition to Dinwiddie, they had to take Davis Bertans’ contract from the Wizards.
Starting the year 16-18, Dallas was really struggling to find their identity. From the start of 2022 on, though, this team quickly became one of the best defensive units in the entire league, and they began winning big.
They finished the regular season 52-30 and advanced to the playoffs for the third consecutive year. They ended up with the 4th seed in the Western Conference and faced the Utah Jazz in the first-round of the playoffs.
Having not advanced through the first-round of the playoffs since the 2011 title run, Dallas beat Utah 4-2 to face the top-seeded Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference semis. Doncic and co. proceeded to upset Phoenix in seven games (4-3).
The Mavs’ season came to an end after the dominant Golden State Warriors beat them 4-1 in the Western Conference Finals to advance to the NBA Finals. The Warriors have shown to the Mavericks that they will need to add more pieces around Doncic to realize their potential.
With the upcoming offseason beginning soon with the NBA Draft, the Dallas’ front office will have to make a ton of decisions regarding the team’s roster. The front office and coaching staff will need to transform the team from an “upset” to a true contender.
Cap Situation in Offseason
The Mavericks will have 13 players under contract this offseason as they enter the NBA Draft and the free agency. With Luka Doncic max deal kicking in this coming season, Dallas will have limited space to move in the free agency.
Seven players currently on their active roster are set to make at least $10 million next season. Maxi Kleber is not too far behind, given that he is scheduled to make $9.2 million in the final year of his contract during the 2022-23 season.
The team is projected to be $2.8M over the cap this offseason, but they will have to sign their free agent Jalen Brunson in a likely lucrative deal. The other two options for the Mavericks will be the Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception worth $6.3M and a trade exception worth $10.8M.
This trade exception is coming off the Josh Richardson trade deal, and it expires on 27 June, which means that the Dallas could use it at some point around the 2022 NBA Draft. One roster from the remaining two spots will go to a draft pick.
The other is likely to go to a player signed via the Taxpayer MLE. That will push Dallas into the tax for the first time in a while. Dallas will prioritize keeping Brunson who is attracting interest from around the NBA.
According to HoopsHype’s Yossi Gozlan, Brunson could see a contract that starts as low as $20 million annually, with offers getting as high as $25 million annually. Brunson could be a potential sign and trade target if the Mavs are unwilling to pay his price.
Potential Free Agents, Trade Candidates
Jalen Brunson will be the story of the offseason for the Dallas Mavericks. The Texas franchise saw the Villanova product producing a career season and helping the team reach the Conference Finals.
Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban has already said that Dallas will pay “whatever it takes” to keep Brunson. Brunson is expected to attract interest from several teams, however the most frequent referred team in the rumor mill is the New York Knicks.
The Villanova alumni averaged a career-high 16.3 points and 4.8 assists per game in 79 appearances during the 2021-22 regular season. In 18 postseason appearances this season, he put up 21.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.7 assist per contest.
Brunson will demand to compensated handsomely this offseason and the Mavs could “blink” at “blink” at Brunson’s price. If the dynamic guard inquires about something close to a max extension, then Dallas could move on from him and use him on a “sign-and-trade” deal.
Beyond Brunson, the Mavs will have to get active in the trade market to make any sort of major changes. The team have several tradable deals to make moves and address the roster shortcomings.
The biggest need is evidently at the center position. Dallas will have to add a dynamic, shot swapping center this offseason to protect Luka Doncic in defense. At the start of the offseason, Rudy Gobert and Mitchell Robinson were mentioned as potential targets.
The Mavericks current starting center duo consists of Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell. Both players are great in the offensive end, but they’re lacking the physical presence to alter shots and cover Doncic’s defensive deficiencies.
Dwight Powell ($11 million) and Davis Bertans ($16 million) seem like the obvious choices for the Mavericks to possibly move on from in an offseason trade, but neither of these guys carry any trade value with them into the offseason.
According to NY Post NBA insider Marc Berman, Dallas is expected to go cheap in the center position, especially if they re-sign Jalen Brunson. Dallas also owns the 26th overall selection in the first-round of this year’s draft and add a talented player, who can contribute immediately.
The Mavericks made the first step towards making a return to the upper echelon of the Western Conference. Now, they will have to capitalize on the deep playoff run of the 2022 postseason and create a championship core around Luka Doncic.
The West will be a tougher environment next season, with several superstars returning to their teams healthy. The Mavericks will have to find ways to improve the team with limited cap space and a coveted free agent free to choose his next destination.