Finding themselves in the early-to-middle stages of a multi-year rebuilding process, the Dallas Mavericks need to be in the business of acquiring young talent which can grow to become part of their core with Harrison Barnes and Dennis Smith Jr. In a previous post, I mentioned going after Julius Randle of the Los Angeles Lakers. And, considering days later he lit the Mavericks up to the tune of 23 points and 15 boards in an overtime victory for LA, I think that one goes without saying. The only hesitation would be if acquiring him also means acquiring Luol Deng. So, here are 4 other trade scenarios the Mavericks should pursue.
4. Pry away Cleveland’s first-round pick
Although some may consider this less than exhilarating, taking a pick back as your main prize rather than a young player, consider this: Cleveland’s first-round pick comes from the Brooklyn Nets, a team sure to finish near the bottom of league standings. Considering Dallas will also be in the lottery this season, they could potentially end up with two lottery picks -exactly what you look for as a rebuilding team.
To Cleveland, a first-round pick isn’t likely to sway Lebron’s decision to stay or leave this Summer. What would sway them as a franchise would be to try to win another title now while the window is still open. As such, a trade package like Wes Matthews, Devin Harris, Salah Mejri, and a pair of second rounders for something to the tune of Tristian Thompson, Iman Shumpert, and the aforementioned Nets first-rounder isn’t all that crazy.
I’m not suggesting the trio from Dallas is enough to get the Cavaliers past the Warriors in the Finals necessarily, but it would be a sizable upgrade paired with two expiring contracts, which would certainly help. Harris and Mejri are both high-energy players and veterans. Matthews is a veteran whose production is about double what Shumpert’s is. As such the deal would make sense for Cleveland and would give Dallas a decent return in the immediate while providing the building blocks for their potential new foundational core.
3. Swap Salah Mejri for Josh Huestis
Josh Huestis is a 6’7, 26-year-old wing for the Oklahoma City Thunder and for whatever reason has not found consistent playing time under coach Billy Donovan. Despite this, Huestis is a lengthy defender with immense athletic ability and an ever-improving three-point shot. Considering both he and Mejri are on expiring deals and set to become restricted free agents, a tradeoff would make sense.
The move would solidify the Thunder’s backup Center position, which currently a blackhole manned by the undersized Patrick Peterson, and even save them some money, which they’ll need for some other moves they need to make if they’re going to make a run at the Finals.
For Dallas, the trade would mean adding another Jae Crowder or Justin Anderson-type player, one who could be part of a young core for the next few years as Dallas’s future takes shape.
2. Swing for the fences with Jabari Parker
Hear me out on this one. Jabari Parker is, when healthy, a tremendously talented 20-points-a-night kind of player. The problem is that, at just 22, the kid has already undergone two ACL surgeries. The fact that he’s also set to become a restricted free agent puts the Milwaukee Bucks in a tough spot. They already have the league’s 8th highest payroll, so if Parker were to get anything close to a max offer this Summer they’ll be hard-pressed to match it. As such, it might make sense to move him now and get something in return first.
The gamble for Dallas, of course, is that he won’t be back on the floor before the deadline. To offset this, Dallas should sneak in Dwight Powell’s terrible contract, although the Bucks are likely to try and ship Matthew Dellavedova’s equally bad deal so that’s basically a push.
Think of it this way: Dallas would receiver Parker, a potentially fantastic addition to Dennis Smith Jr. and Harrison Barnes for the future since Dallas has a great history with “fallen angel” players. They would also be likely to receive the aforementioned Dellavedova and could even bring back fan-favorite and eventual retired number 31, Jason Terry in the deal. Terry is at the end of his line just about at 40 years old but he could transition relatively well into the coaching staff. It’s a win-win for Dallas. You know, assuming Parker can get healthy and recapture something close to his previous form.
1. Mavericks hit a homerun and land DeMarcus Cousins
Let’s be real for a moment. This is the longest longshot on the list and for good reason. First, it banks on the New Orleans Pelicans conceding defeat in what was at last year’s trade deadline considered one of the biggest landscape-changing moves in recent memory. Despite putting up big numbers (25.5 PPG & 12.5 Rbs) and pairing with the equally talented Pelicans stalwart, Anthony Davis, “Boogie” and the Pelicans haven’t seen the kind of on-court success they’d envisioned. Sitting at 22-20, they find themselves 6th in the standings just beyond the midway point of the season. While it’s true their frontcourt punch is unrivaled in the league, their utter lack of outside scoring (Rajon Rondo, anyone?) limits how far they can go. So, with Boogie approaching free agency, New Orleans may begin to sweat if things don’t turn around quickly.
The trade would be a tricky one, requiring a third party, but the general thinking seems to be that the Los Angeles Lakers could be an ideal pairing. In the deal, Dallas would receive Cousins and Corey Brewer (part of the 2011 title team). In return, the Pelicans would acquire Wes Matthews, Julius Randle, and the Laker’s 2019 Top-3 protected first-round pick. For LA’s trouble, they would receive Nerlens Noel, Seth Curry, Josh McRoberts, and Dallas’s 2018 first-round pick, which is Top-5 protected.
It would be a risk for Dallas for sure. As stated previously, they are in the early stages of rebuilding, and Cousins is an elite 27-year-old talent who has never been apart of a contending roster. As such, Dallas would need Cousins’ word that he would re-sign with the Mavs to still receive that 5th-year max deal. As for the Lakers, the move would allow them to retain some cap flexibility for their push this Summer to land either or possibly both Lebron James and Paul George. It would also allow them to move Randle.
I don’t see this happening obviously, but if lightning struck and the stars aligned, Dallas would find itself with the core it’s desperately longed for with Dennis Smith Jr., Harrison Barnes, and DeMarcus Cousins. Don’t get me wrong, it wouldn’t be a complete roster by any stretch, but it would be a viable core with enough appeal to bring in more free agents while jump-starting the rebuild.