Dallas Mavericks Trade Primer Part 1: Assets

What does Dallas have that teams would trade for? Which players hold value, and who might be interested?

I recently started a thread on /r/Mavericks, asking what you would like to read about. The thread is still available here so feel free to add to it if there’s something you’d like to read about. This week’s article is inspired by /u/moe1984, who asked to see all things trade-related. There are three main types of players on the Mavericks today: players the team will find untouchable, players who have value and could move, and players who have value, but are unlikely to move. You also have players who might move, but only as throw-ins to a larger deal. These are not what I think about the players (for instance, I wouldn’t move Salah Mejri but I think the team would consider it), but rather what I think the team thinks about the players. Part 2 will focus on potential trade targets for the team.

Untouchable Players

Dirk Nowitzki

The Franchise Icon and an NBA legend, the only way Dirk leaves Dallas is if he asks. He makes $25,000,000 this year and next, and has indicated he would like to make it to 20 seasons in Dallas. The Big German made an impressive return in victory against the Clippers, and will try to increase his minutes as the season wears on and he chases down another NBA legend on the all-time scoring list.

Harrison Barnes

in the first season of a 4-year, $94,000,000 deal (fourth year as a player option), has been a revelation. Early in the season still, it appears as though the Mavericks have signed their future All-Star in free agency. Barnes can defend, he can score from all over the floor, and he has shown nascent flashes of passing vision in the past few games.

Wes Matthews

Wes has two years remaining after this season at an average of $18,000,000 a year. His shooting has come on this season after a rough start, and the wing duo of Matthews and Barnes looks like it should be a strong core for Dallas for the next few seasons.

Players That Have Value

Andrew Bogut

Signed for $11,000,000 through end of current season.

Bogut gets his value from his defense. He is one of the league’s best defensive rebounders, and one of the reasons that, pre-injury, Dallas was at the top of the league in defensive rebounding percentage. Bogut is one of the best at defending shots at the rim, but his offensive value is a negative. He holds the ball too long, he cannot shoot, and in spite of his great passes, he turns the ball over enough to wipe out those positives.

Golden State cannot reacquire Bogut, since they traded him away during the current league year. Portland has been rumored to have interest since Festus Ezeli had surgery, and Boston has been mentioned as well. It’s possible Dallas could convince the Trailblazers to send them a first round pick, but it seems more likely that Dallas will end up without any offers of value for the oft-injured big man.

Salah Mejri

Signed for $875,000 through end of current season. Mavericks can extend Qualifying Offer to make him a Restricted Free Agent.

Mejri can block shots like few others. He can roll to the rim and is a decent finisher and playmaker on those rolls. In spite of these positives, he has a couple drawbacks. He still jumps out of position far too often when going for a block, allowing his man to come in behind and grab an offensive rebound for the put-back. He also fouls a ton. In a smaller role off the bench, his high-intensity toughness and ability to spark a team could be quite worthwhile.

As with Bogut, the trade market for centers is iffy. The best landing spot for Mejri would be Golden State, who doesn’t have much to offer and will run into some cap gymnastics at the end of the season as things stand without adding a player like Mejri who needs the qualifying offer. Portland could use Mejri for many of the same reasons they could use Bogut: defense, rebounding, and a better fit than Bogut in the pick and roll.

Deron Williams

Signed for $9,000,000 through end of current season.

At 32 years old, Williams is in charge of Rick Carlisle’s offense for the Mavericks and tends to run it with ruthless efficiency. He is shooting only 32.4% from three so far, but he’s launching threes 38.7% of the time he shoots, which would be the second highest rate of his career. His efficiency stats are down almost across the board, but he brings veteran leadership, a calm presence, and a tight handle that is a sight to behold every time the Mavericks have the last possession in a quarter.

The most interesting landing spot for Williams is Cleveland, who already has a massive payroll in the works, but lost J.R. Smith to injury and could use someone else to eat minutes at the one or two spot behind Kyrie Irving and with Smith out. Williams is exactly the type of player Cleveland could use, but they may not have the ammunition to offer what Dallas needs. Other potential destinations are Orlando, Oklahoma City (which desperately needs minutes behind Westbrook, and someone who could play with him off ball), Sacramento, Philadelphia, or Milwaukee. Each of those teams could use a three-point shooter and a ballhandler to various degrees.

Justin Anderson

Currently in second year of Rookie Scale contract. Signed through end of 2017-18 season for ~$1,500,000 per year, with a $2,500,000 team option in 4th year.

Anderson’s value comes from an obvious place: he is an athletic swingman with the potential to be the “three and D” wing that every NBA team covets, at the low price of a rookie scale deal and team control for a few more years, with Restricted Free Agency coming after his 4th year option is picked up. Unfortunately for Dallas, this remains mostly untapped potential, which comes at a reduced price. Anderson is shooting with more confidence this year, and while the ball is going in more than it used to, 28.8% from three isn’t going to cut it in today’s NBA. His rebounding and athleticism tantalize, but his defensive fundamentals need work, his ballhandling needs work, and his awareness needs work. Some of that will come with time, but the clock is ticking on the 23-year old.

His market could be anywhere, but really consists of any team that thinks they could do a better job of developing him than Dallas has done so far. He could bring a future first at best, but it’s more likely that no offer materializes that’s worth more than two more years of trying and hoping for Anderson to turn out well. Unfortunately, many of these “3 and D” value players don’t have things click until a few years, and teams, into their career.

Players Unlikely to Move

Dwight Powell

The Stanford alum is in the first season of a 3-year deal with a player option in the 4th year for a little over $10,000,000. He definitely still has some potential, but he’s not on a great contract, especially given some of the new CBA changes and the impact that has on the middle class, backup, 15-20 minute per game players. His Offensive Rating (points scored per 100 possessions when he is on the floor), at 120 per Basketball Reference. His defense leaves something to be desired, however, and he needs to watch some clips of Chris Bosh playing center for the Big Three-era Miami Heat. Bosh was a similarly built natural four who moved to the five and used his athleticism advantage to blitz pick and rolls and still defend a lob pass. Powell has that ability, though we will see if he ever gets to tap into it in Rick Carlisle’s relatively conservative defensive schemes.

Seth Curry

Seth Curry is in the first season of a 2-year, $6,000,000 deal. He’s playing better as the season goes on, and is on a particularly hot streak as of writing. He’s spacing the floor, his assists are up, and he’s settling into a role coming off the bench and working well with any of the Mavericks’ three point guards. Players who can contribute and make only $3,000,000 per year are not players you trade, especially as new changes in the CBA threaten to make cap space a valuable commodity once more.

Dorian Finney-Smith

Dorian Finney-Smith has team options for each of the next two seasons at $900,000 and $1,000,000, respectively. Afterwards, his team will be able to extend him a qualifying offer to become a Restricted Free Agent. Just like Curry above, he has performed better and better as the season goes on. Unlike Curry, he is better at defense, even cheaper, and under team control for far longer. This Mavericks front office has to have learned from the Jae Crowder mistake—Finney-Smith is worth more to them than they can get in a trade.

Devin Harris and J.J. Barea

Devin Harris is in the last guaranteed season of his contract, with a $4,400,000 team option for next season, while Barea is signed for two more seasons on a declining deal that ends at $3,700,000. Harris has played in a number of other locations, and he’s never been as good as when he’s been a Maverick. The team’s renowned medical staff has also generally kept him healthier than others. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship similar to J.J. Barea. Both players are more likely than not to continue re-upping with Dallas as long as a role is available for them.

Throw-in Players

Nicolas Brussino

Brussino is on the same contract as Finney-Smith—two more years of team options, then he can be made a Restricted Free Agent (pending further changes in the new CBA, as yet undisclosed). If he can provide any sort of valuable minutes before that contract expires, he has value due to just how cheap it is. At only 23 years old, there’s some hope for him, but it just isn’t the same as if he were 21. Why is he only a throw in? He hasn’t done anything, and while he was hot all preseason, he hasn’t really shown many other flashes of potential yet. He’s a three-point gunner who has only hit 30% of his threes so far, typically in minutes where the defense wasn’t trying all that hard.

A.J. Hammons

Hammons is on the same basic contract as Finney-Smith and Brussino, although he makes about $100,000 more this season. His minutes have ticked up a little since Andrew Bogut went out, and if he continues to improve I’ll have to re-evaluate this classification, but the bottom line for him so far is that he hasn’t made much of an impact on offense and he’s got a long way to go learning NBA defense. He held up admirably against DeMarcus Cousins, and he’s hit a few three-pointers this year, both of which are flashes that say he just might be a future starter, but the chances are low. Think of him as similar to Dwight Powell when he was still in Boston.

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