the Mavericks remain focused on acquiring another All-Star caliber player to complement Luka Doncić after tacitly acknowledging by trading Kristaps Porzingis in February that he wasn’t the right fit, sources tell veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein. The Mavs won’t have salary cap space to sign a player of that caliber outright anytime soon, so if they’re going to try to acquire a star this summer, it will probably have to be via trade.
Dallas has been linked to Jazz big man Rudy Gobert, but Stein’s sources say the Mavs’ interest in the three-time Defensive Player of the Year has been overstated. As Stein explains, the team knows it needs to improve its rim protection and rebounding, but had success with a five-out approach this postseason and will likely pursue a more “cost-efficient” option at center.
According to Stein, Bull’s guard Zach LaVine is a potential target that intrigues the Mavericks, who apparently like the idea of adding another wing slasher and scorer, particularly after seeing how effective Spencer Dinwiddie was this season alongside Doncic.
However, LaVine is a free agent this summer and it would be a challenge for the Mavs to sign-and-trade for him and re-sign Jalen Brunson, since team salary would be well beyond the projected tax apron — any club that acquires a player via sign-and-trade becomes hard-capped at the apron for the rest of that league year. If acquiring LaVine isn’t realistic, Dallas will likely pivot to other options on the wing, Stein says.
Here’s more on the Mavs, whose season ended on Thursday in Golden State:
- President of basketball operations Nick Harrison downplayed the need to bring in another All-Star caliber player. “There’s teams … that have a bunch of All-Stars, and they were sitting at home watching us play,” Harrison said during his end-of-season presser on Friday (twitter link via Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News). “Yeah, you need to keep upgrading the roster, but I don’t think it’s just about getting a bunch of All-Stars. It’s about getting people that fit.”
- Harrison said that re-signing Jalen Brunson will be the Mavericks’ “top priority” this offseason (twitter link via Michael Scotto of HoopsHype). “We want to re-sign him. He knows it,” Harrison said. “We want him back. He’ll be a big part of our future.” mav’s owner Mark Cuban also spoke about the team’s desire to retain Brunson, as we outlined earlier today.
- Ace Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News relays, Cuban admitted that he didn’t know what to expect entering the 2021/22 season after the team underwent front office and coaching changes. He was pleased to see the Mavs establish an identity over the course of the year. “Hard playing. Physical. Multi-talented, able to complement Luka,” Cuban said in describing the type of player that fits that identity. “Knowing how to play with Luka. That is probably number one. But yeah, you saw how we played it. guys like Reggie Bullock. Spencer, when he came, got it. Davis Bertans. (Dorian Finney-Smith). Dwight (Powell). Everybody. There’s nobody that you can name that wasn’t just playing as hard as they possibly can and knew their role.”
- An Eastern Conference executive who spoke to Tim MacMahon of ESPN believes the Mavericks are “one player away” from being a legitimate title contender. According to MacMahon, that opinion is shared by other rival coaches, executives, and scouts he has spoken to about Dallas’ outlook. For his part, Doncic said after Thursday’s loss that he thinks the Mavs are “on a great, great path.”
- ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype have published their offseason previews for the Mavericks, while Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report and SI.com’s Chris Mannix and Howard Beck also took a closer look at the team’s roster situation going forward.