Despite all the losing, the Dallas Mavericks 2018-19 campaign can only be seen as a success for one simple reason: They can now be sure the future of the franchise is already on the roster. And his name is Luka Doncic. The Slovenian ball-handler put up an incredible rookie campaign, one in which he displayed special passing ability, a difficult-to-stop step-back jumper and, most importantly, an unquestionable flair for the big moments. Overall, Doncic averaged 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game, first-year marks that can only be matched by the great Oscar Robertson. Doncic was so good, in fact, that Dallas decided to blow things up midseason and go after another elite young piece, Kristaps Porzingis, to pair with Doncic, and to invest fully in the future.
Heading into the offseason, not only do the Mavericks have two fantastic building blocks, they will also operate as a cap-space team this summer, one with the financial means to go after a star or multiple role players. They still have work to do, and plenty of it, but truth be told, the future is looking pretty bright in Dallas right about now.
GUARANTEED CONTRACTS FOR 2019/20
Tim Hardaway Jr: $17,325,000
Courtney Lee: $12,759,670
Luka Doncic: $7,693,200
Justin Jackson: $3,280,920
Jalen Brunson: $1,416,852
NON-GUARANTEED CONTRACTS FOR 2019/20
Ryan Broekhoff: $1,416,852
Kostas Antetokounmpo: Two-way player
Daryl Macon: Two-way player
Dwight Powell: $10,259,375
Kristaps Porzingis: Restricted
Dorian Finney-Smith: Restricted
Maxi Kleber: Restricted
One of the Mavericks’ top goals this offseason has to be to get their big trade acquisition, Porzingis, healthy and ready for action to open 2019-20. All signs point to that being the case, with Porzingis even participating in 5-on-5 practices late this past season.
Apart from that, Dallas is looking at roughly $38.6 million in cap space this summer, which should give them the room to land a low-level star, or multiple serviceable role players, with their spending money.
Players like Kemba Walker, Khris Middleton and Julius Randle have all been bandied about at one point or another as potential targets for the Mavericks this summer, so it’s clear Dallas will be aggressive in free agency, a wise strategy to employ as long as they have Doncic on his rookie-scale deal. Spending big on filling out the rest of their roster while their best player is making an average of $7.1 million could allow Mark Cuban’s team to make some real noise over the upcoming seasons.
More important than anything, though, even if they’re not star-level acquisitions, the Mavs need to specifically find players – primarily shooters and athletic two-way wings – who will fit around Doncic, the future of their franchise and one of the top young players in the Association.
POTENTIAL FREE AGENCY TARGETS
Kemba Walker: Reports state that Dallas is eyeing a play at Walker this offseason. Makes sense, as he can take some of the playmaking/scoring load off of Doncic, and has the shooting ability to play off the talented young Slovenian when need be.
Khris Middleton: The Mavs are reportedly interested in Middleton this summer. The fit for both parties is logical: Dallas lacks wing depth with Doncic being used mostly as a primary creator, and could use one more outside scorer to take some of the load off of the young Slovenian.
Julius Randle: The Dallas native would also make a lot of sense for Dallas. Next to Porzingis, the duo could form a versatile, highly productive frontcourt that can cover for each other’s deficiencies.
Tobias Harris: The Philadelphia 76ers could have a hard time re-signing both Harris and Jimmy Butler. If Harris walks, the Mavs could be an interesting landing spot, as his shooting and post-up play would fit nicely with Doncic and Porzingis.
Danny Green: His career resurgence will make him a popular free agent, as no team can have enough shooting and defense. Would be great next to Doncic thanks to his 3-and-D prowess.
Al-Farouq Aminu: Dallas could use a 3-and-D forward to help shore up the perimeter defense, and Aminu is a pretty good one.
Patrick Beverley: He’s proven over the 2019 playoffs how valuable he can be. Doesn’t need the ball on offense, and would really help Dallas’ point-stopping chops.
POTENTIAL TRADE TARGETS
Goran Dragic: He has a player option for next season. If he stays with the Miami Heat, he could be a good trade option for Dallas. He has a ton of experience playing with Doncic thanks to their time on the Slovenian national team, and he’s still very productive at the point-guard spot, one the Mavs need to fill.
Kevin Love: If Dallas strikes out in free agency, they could look to the trade market for another All-Star. An interesting option could be Love. The Cleveland Cavaliers have an extremely expensive payroll for a very lacking roster, so they could look to flip some of their pricier pieces for cap relief. Love would give the Mavericks an elite shooting frontcourt between he and Porzingis.
2019 DRAFT ASSETS
The Mavericks do not have a first-round pick this year. Their first-rounder, the No. 10 overall selection, goes to the Atlanta Hawks as part of the Doncic-for-Trae Young trade.
Dallas also owns their second-round pick for 2019.
You can follow Frank Urbina on Twitter: @FrankUrbina_.