Mavericks Predicted To Make Frontcourt Upgrade

Luka Doncic, Mavericks, NBA Rumors
Feb 3, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) reacts to being called for a foul by referee Curtis Blair (74) during the second quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

With just a few days remaining until the NBA Trade Deadline, a lot of people are keeping an eye on the Dallas Mavericks. Currently, in eighth place in the Western Conference, Dallas looks like a team that needs to make a move to solidify their place in the standings.

They have an all-world talent in Luka Doncic, but as pointed out by Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report, the team possesses a point differential barely positive with him on the court. On paper, the pairing of him and Kyrie Irving looks like a good one, but a full season into their partnership, it has yet to yield overly positive results.

Irving’s inability to remain on the court has been a major issue, just as it was in his previous stop with the Brooklyn Nets. The Mavericks attempted to make some moves this offseason to reshape their roster, but the team is still left middling in the NBA playoff picture.

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What could Dallas do to change their outlook? Bailey has suggested that the team look to make a move that upgrades their frontcourt. Marc Stein, on his podcast, the Saturday Stein Line, mentioned several players the Mavericks could pursue ahead of the deadline.

Jerami Grant of the Portland Trail Blazers, Andrew Wiggins of the Golden State Warriors, Dorian Finney-Smith of the Nets and P.J. Washington of the Charlotte Hornets were some players Stein listed as targets. Any of them are attainable, in Bailey’s opinion, because of the tradeable contracts Dallas has stockpiled.

They can match the salary for any of the aforementioned players using some combination of Tim Hardaway Jr., Grant Williams, Richaun Holmes, Maxi Kleber and Josh Green. That is the easy part of negotiating. The hard part for the Mavericks is draft compensation.

The New York Knicks own their 2024 first-round pick, which is top-10 protected this year and in 2025. Because of the protections, Dallas only has one first-rounder at their disposal to include in a deal; their 2027 pick. 

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Because of the Stepien Rule, teams are not permitted to be without a first-round pick in consecutive years. With the protections on the pick the Knicks own running through 2025, the earliest a first-round can be moved without potentially violating the Stepien Rule is 2027. With their 2029 first-rounder already gone, Dallas cannot trade away their 2028 or 2023 first-round pick either.

That could make acquiring an impact player difficult, but Bailey believes the Mavericks will find a way to get a deal done. One of the players Stein mentioned as potential targets will end up in Dallas before the NBA Deadline on Thursday afternoon in Bailey’s opinion.

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