The Dallas Mavericks had an impressive 2021-22 season. The Mavs created an identity and, led by the strong play of Luka Doncic, made it to the Western Conference Finals. The 23-year-old still is early in his career arc and has cemented himself as the face of the franchise. Even with Doncic in hand, Dallas has a great deal of work to do to improve its playoff chances moving forward.
The most notable loss this offseason has been Jalen Brunson. The former Villanova standout served as an ideal co-star to Luka Doncic. Brunson just had a career-best season, averaging 16.3 points, 4.8 assists, and 3.9 rebounds. He stuck a nice balance of being willing to play off-ball or create for himself when the time was right. Brunson will leave some large shoes to fill for the Mavs moving forward.
So far in free agency Dallas has handed out contracts to JaVale McGee and Theo Pinson. While both are fine signings, there is much more that still needs to be done, even after also trading for Christian Wood before the draft. The Mavs have been connected to Kyrie Irving following Kevin Durant’s trade request, which set the NBA world in flames. While Irving is a tempting target, Dallas must be very calculated in what its next moves are.
Here are two moves for the Mavs to make next to continue setting themselves up for success.
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2 moves Mavs still must make after first weekend of 2022 NBA Free Agency
Mavs get: Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle, Charles Bassey, 2024 second-round pick
Sixers get: Reggie Bullock, Davis Bertans, Dwight Powell
While Tobias Harris may not be the prime-time target many have in mind, he would be a nice fit for Dallas. Harris has had a turbulent career in which his role has drastically changed just about every year. The 29-year-old has already been traded five times throughout his career. The Tennessee product has career averages of 16.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. He is coming off a playoff run in which he played some of his most effective basketball and is the odd man out in the Sixers’ current core.
The Mavs could greatly benefit from adding Harris and giving him a more consistent role. He would go a long way toward replacing the production of Jalen Brunson. The veteran forward has better creation ability than he is given credit and could go get a bucket when the team needs it. Harris is a model teammate and also has taken massive strides forward on the defensive side of the ball.
Matisse Thybulle would also be an impactful addition due to his defensive ability. The Mavs have proven to be content having players focusing on the defensive end while allowing Luka Doncic to take the lead on offense. Thybulle would be perfect in this role and could be an effective member of the rotation. This type of trade would still allow the Mavs flexibility moving forward.
Sign Austin Rivers
Spencer Dinwiddie and Tim Hardaway Jr. will both be looked at to step up following the loss of Jalen Brunson. Even so, the Mavs could use to add another guard. Austin Rivers would be a solid addition due to his ability to play with or without the ball. Rivers spent last season with the Denver Nuggets, where he was an impactful role player. He is a high-IQ player who would be comfortable taking minutes in the rotation. The Duke product would be able to play alongside Doncic or come in and run the second unit:
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 2, 2021
Adding a backup guard may not be the most attractive move, but it would be one that benefits the Mavs greatly. While he stands just 6’4″, Rivers competes on the defensive side of the ball. He is fairly disruptive and would be capable of guarding the opponent’s top guards. Doncic’s defensive concerns were put on display in the playoffs last year, so adding a guard alongside him that makes his presence felt would prove beneficial. Rivers would be an impactful rotational player for the Mavs that would prove capable of playing minutes deep in the postseason.
The loss of Jalen Brunson is a major hit for the Dallas Mavericks. Replacing him must be the main focus of the offseason, and there are limited options for players to do this with. Making these two moves would be a step in the positive direction without using up all their assets. The appeal for a Kyrie Irving is clear, but it is not without red flags. The isolation-based nature of his game could cause issues alongside Luka Doncic. Adding decent talent and keeping options available for another star to shake free is the best route for Dallas at the moment.