The Charlotte Hornets had big dreams leading up to the trade deadline, but ultimately weren’t able to get a deal done. Frank Kaminsky was their big bargaining piece as they aggressively pursued any avenue that would bring Kemba Walker help, most notably Marc Gasol.
With the deadline behind them, there is a strong possibility that they will opt to buy out Kaminsky, who hasn’t been able to establish a consistent role with the team. If he does hit the buyout market, it is unclear what teams would have serious interest in bringing the 25-year-old aboard. However, a team that should consider signing him and would be able to offer him a shot at earning actual minutes would be the Dallas Mavericks.
Dallas started the season with playoff aspirations and for a while it looked like they were well founded. Rookie of the Year hopeful Luka Doncic has had a sensational first season in the NBA and is clearly the future franchise player the Mavericks were in need of. As the season continued, though, the playoffs started falling further out of their fingertips and a week before the deadline Dallas showed a commitment to move plans off of the postseason and onto the future.
The acquisition of Kristaps Porzingis gave them a second star to pair with Doncic down the road and helped set the foundation of the team’s timeline. They made another move in swapping Harrison Barnes for expiring money in Zach Randolph and second-year wing Justin Jackson.
Not only did this allow them to free up money, it will give them time to try and develop Jackson and see if he is a fit as a possible role player on a similar timeline as their core pieces in Doncic and Porzingis. Bringing in Kaminsky would be a similar scenario.
Signing the center prior to his upcoming restricted free agency this summer would be a perfect low risk move to try and get the most out of a young player that could show potential to fill out a role on this team long-term. If it worked out, they would have the rights to match any deal and retain him, and if it didn’t, they would be able to cut him lose after this season. For Dallas, whose best interest right now is developing their young players and trying to work their way into the top five of the NBA draft, this is exactly the type of move to be making.
Kaminsky came into the league with promise of being a modern stretch center, though he hasn’t found consistency in his shot. His best season shooting the ball was 2017-18, where he shot 38 percent on his 3-pointers and 42.9 percent overall. He has been a little scoring within 10 feet of the basket this season, but his stroke from deep has dipped down to 34.9 percent. If Rick Carlisle were able to help him find a reliable shot from outside, he would be an excellent center pairing with Luka Doncic, who excels at working his way inside and has the vision to kick out to a shooter on the edge.
Interestingly, Kaminsky has experienced somewhat of a positional identity crisis, much like Kristaps. Last season, Charlotte toyed with the idea of him playing more time at power forward, which produced mixed results. Kaminsky was just athletic enough to make it not pan out horribly on the defensive end, but offensively he excelled at facing up against more lumbering big men.
Playing him in a front court with Porzingis, who experiences similar results when switching back and forth from center and the forward spot, would possibly allow one of them to always have the advantage offensively, making them a great scoring frontline.
Frank Kaminsky’s game isn’t complete yet, but the big plus for Dallas is that there would be such little risk involved in bringing in a player who still has some room to grow. The best scenario would be him showing signs of being a productive player for the Mavs, but not so productive that they would still be able to re-sign him this summer on a value deal.
As the team is set to drop in the standings, much to their benefit, and will place priority on polishing players like Justin Jackson and Jalen Brunson, taking out a flyer on Frank Kaminsky should absolutely be looked at by the Dallas front office.