Dallas have not improved at all in the offseason. Doncic’s best years will be wasted?
The Dallas Mavericks have had a controversial offseason this year. On the one hand, the club extended the two players they planned to retain, including superstar Luka Doncic. On the other hand, the Mavericks line-up has remained virtually unchanged compared to the previous season. And it ended with a painful defeat in the first round of the playoffs from the Los Angeles Clippers (3-4). The team certainly claims a higher result in the upcoming season, but practically nothing was done to achieve it in the summer.
The re-signing of Luka Doncic was, of course, the highlight of this offseason for the Mavericks. He received a five-year contract and $ 207 million. And there could be no doubt that the Slovenian would be given a super-maximum speed. The whole team is being built around Doncic. However, as shown by the two previous seasons, he still cannot drag Dallas beyond the first round of the playoffs. This summer, they didn’t get anyone to help Luka and decided to rely on the existing line-up.
The second player with whom the agreement was renewed is Tim Hardway Jr. The defender received a four-year contract and $ 74 million in declining salaries. And here attention is focused precisely on the financial issue. Hardway fit well into the team that needed a solid shooter as their third offensive option. During the regular season, Tim averaged 16.6 points per match with 39.1% three-pointers. In the playoffs, he became the second in scoring after Doncic, chalked up 17 points per game (40.4% of three-pointers). However, in the “Mavericks” he still remains a role player. Strong, good role-player.
At Dallas, signing a new contract with Hardway was called one of the priorities, but he probably could have been given a lower salary. Before the opening of the free agent market, ESPN experts, for example, estimated its services at $ 14-16 million per year. As a result, Tim was overpaid and spent more than half of the available funds on the payroll on him. He will remain the second highest paid player in the Mavericks this season. First on this list is heavy forward Kristaps Porzingis.
Porzingis at the end of last season was a real headache for Dallas. But the main disappointment awaited the “Mavericks” in the playoffs, which they failed cleanly and in all respects. If we talk about defense, then the big man’s main problem was the lack of rebounds. Even under its own ring. There, the Clippers striker Terence Mann , who is a cut below him, managed to win the rebound against Porzingis . In seven games, Kristaps has 5 block shots. Almost two times less than interceptions – there were 9. And this is for a player whose height is 221 cm.
In general, Porzingis was afraid to fight, to make contact, to fight for the ball. How to explain such a passive game is unclear. Perhaps it’s all about the fear of getting another injury (he missed the beginning of the season due to knee surgery). But we do not know anything about the psychological problems of Kristaps. As for the offensive play, everything was just as sad there – an average of only 13.1 points (versus 20.1 in the regular season). At the same time, most of the playing time, the seven-footer stood on the arc, waiting for the ball. After the playoffs, the player admitted that this was the tactical installation of head coach Rick Carlisle. Obviously, Porzy is not a player who is used to exclusively throwing from a corner. And in the end, the ball almost did not reach him. And if he did, he let the throw down. In the regular season, everything was fine with him – 37.6% of realized attempts from beyond the arc. But in postseason matches, the percentage dropped to 29.6. As a result – 0 out of 5 in the seventh decisive meeting.
After an unsuccessful play in the playoffs, a flurry of criticism fell upon the Latvian. Although the situation around Porizngis did not look encouraging anyway. Throughout the season, there were rumors of his conflict with Luka Doncic. Kristaps allegedly envied the young superstar and was unhappy with his secondary role on the team. Against the background of all that happened, of course, conversations began about the need to urgently exchange the player. The management of the club initially seemed to have planned to conduct a high-profile deal with his participation, but no one was willing. And later the desire to exchange Kristaps diminished. New Team Coach Jason Kiddhas high hopes for the Latvian bigman. Recently, he flew to the homeland of the basketball player in Latvia to personally communicate with him. According to Kidd himself, he intends to do everything to establish a trusting relationship with the player.
As for the newcomers to the team, Dallas only got two role-playing players in the free-agent market – Reggie Bullock of the New York Knicks and Sterling Brown of the Houston Rockets. Both boast good long-range throws. Bullock shot 41% of his 3-pointers last season, making 6.1 attempts per game, Brown 42.3% with 4.2 attempts. For the depth of the line-up, these are not bad signings, but in general they do not make the difference.
The team needed a second truly stellar option. First of all, a quality playmaker and ball handler. For example, Kyle Lowry, Mike Conley or even Spencer Dinwiddy.This summer, Dallas was named one of the contenders for each of them. As a result, Lowry ended up in Miami with a $ 85 million contract, Conley stayed at Utah for $ 72 million, and Dinwiddie will receive $ 62 million in Washington. Considering that the Mavericks kept Porzingis and issued a large contract to Hardway, they simply could not offer any of them that kind of money. It should be said that there is not much room left in the Dallas payment for the coming years. This year, $ 118.3 million will be spent on salaries, and in the 2022/2023 season, the situation will be complicated by the entry into force of Doncic’s new contract. Of course, Luca deserves the maximum money. But he also deserves the best partners. Dallas complicated the task of acquiring a star partner for the Slovenian, making indistinct moves in the offseason.
Apparently, Dallas hopes that this season Doncic will definitely work a miracle. Perhaps the club is counting on Jason Kidd, who came to the post, or that Porzingis will still come to his senses and play strongly in conjunction with Luca. One way or another, it will be interesting to watch the Mavericks in the new season. What to expect from the old squad under the leadership of the new coach and what he will eventually achieve is one of the main intrigues of the season. This team is capable of reaching the playoffs. Theoretically, even go into the second round, but no more. In the long run, the situation does not look better.
It is likely that Luca will not be able to fight for the title in the coming years and the peak of his career will be wasted. As already wasted the opportunity to qualitatively strengthen the roster while Doncic played on a modest newbie contract. I hate to see Luca become an analogue of Damien Lillard in the Portland Trail Blazers, but this is where it goes. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban traveled to Slovenia with the front office and head coach to extend Doncic during the offseason. With the same zeal, it was necessary to try to strengthen the secondary composition, which did not happen.