Why A Buddy Hield NBA Draft Trade Makes Mavs Sense
"When it comes down to money, I'm a buyer. I'm always a buyer. Always," Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told us recently on our Mavs Step Back Podcast.
"(If) teams want to get off the salary, if puts us over the top, yes. People forget, now a $100-million salary isn't as big of a deal as it used to be, but I had $100-million-plus salaries and luxury taxes out the wazoo in the early-2000s, and people thought I was crazy.
I just want to win, so I'm willing to do the same thing again."
With the Mavs coming off an inspiring effort in their playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers, you have to believe that Cuban means those words heading into this offseason. If 21-year-old Luka Doncic wasn't already in NBA top-five conversations before the playoffs started, he certainly is now after nearly averaging a 30-point triple-double against one of the best defensive teams in the league for six games, while also delivering the defining moment of the postseason with a game-winning buzzer-beater in Game 4.
The problem is that, as great as Doncic is, he needs just a little more consistent help around him - even with a healthy Kristaps Porzingis - for the Mavs to become more than just a really fun playoff team.
Dallas needs a true third option that is capable of hitting more of the wide-open looks Doncic creates at a more consistent rate. When the Mavs' historically-grand offense goes stagnant from time-to-time at the end of close games, they need a third player who is capable of getting them a big-time bucket down the stretch to take some of the scoring burden off of Doncic.
As we remind you every offseason and trade deadline, it's a DallasBasketball.com tradition to brainstorm and piece together potential moves the Mavs could make going forward. These aren't always predictions or even news-item "scoops'' ... but rather thorough examinations of Dallas' options based on what the NBA landscape looks like at the time.
Today's "thorough examination'' involves Sacramento Kings sharpshooter Buddy Hield.
Why It Makes Sense For The Mavs
As mentioned earlier, the Mavs could really use another consistent scorer to alleviate some of the late-game burden that falls on Doncic's shoulders. Hield has averaged 20 points per game over his last two seasons in Sacramento while shooting 41 percent on nearly nine 3-point attempts per game. Hield has also averaged five rebounds and three assists per game over the last two seasons as well.
We'll suggest Hield could probably use a change of scenery at this point ... and would be a seamless fit next to Doncic on the offensive end of the court.
As good as Tim Hardaway Jr. was for the Mavs this season, his career production and efficiency isn't as impressive as Hield's is. Hardaway Jr. shot nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc in the regular season this year, but that percentage dropped back down to his career average of 35 percent in the postseason.
The Mavs love Hardaway Jr., though, and as Cuban told us back in February, there's mutual interest for him to stick around long-term.
"THJ has turned into an elite shooter (this season). He makes us so much better," said Cuban. "Obviously, we can see him being around for a long time, and I know he wants to stay. I would be lying if (I said) I thought he would be this good."
That said, plans can change when there's an opportunity to improve the roster. Obviously, the Mavs have to find out if Hardaway Jr. will opt in to the final year of his contract this offseason before they could even consider trading him, and maybe he'd end up not being part of the hypothetical trade regardless.
But financially and positionally, he would make the most sense to include in this trade scenario.
Why It Makes Sense For The Kings
Vlade Divac is no longer calling the shots in Sacramento, as he stepped down as the Kings' general manager a few weeks ago. The fact that the Kings have the league's longest postseason drought, now at 14 years and counting, paired with Divac deciding to pass on Doncic in the 2018 NBA Draft when Sacramento had the No. 2 pick was just too much for him to live down.
Before Divac stepped down, he handed out a four-year, $85-million contract to former Maverick Harrison Barnes, as well as a four-year, $96-million extension to Hield, a player who, according to Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee, doesn't seem to be content with his current role with the Kings moving forward.
Starting in late January, Kings head coach Luke Walton, whose job is safe heading into next season according to reports, decided to bring Hield off the bench instead of starting him. Hield's production stayed about the same coming off the bench, and his 3-point percentage was an astounding 45 percent during that time, but it has been reported that he sees himself as a starter going forward, and we'd have to agree with that.
With reports of the Kings making a "top offseason priority'' of re-signing restricted free agent Bogdan Bogdanovic - the guy who replaced Hield in the starting lineup - it's realistic to think Hield could request a trade. And with new management in charge, management that didn't make the decision to extend Hield in the first place, they might be open to the idea of letting Hield go if it avoids a problem and the franchise receives some assets in the process as well.
What The Potential Trade Could Look Like
If Hardaway Jr. decides to opt in to his $19 million player option, Dallas could, in theory, send his expiring contract, a filler player (perhaps Delon Wright or Justin Jackson), and the No. 31 pick in this year's draft to Sacramento for Hield, whose four-year extension will kick in this offseason. There's a couple of other ways you could mix and match the pieces, but that's probably the most realistic scenario in our opinion.
Some will argue that offer isn't enough for the Kings to consider it, given that Hield is one of the more efficient high-volume three-point shooters in the league, but his current situation with Walton, who seems to be set on bringing him off the bench, paired with the idea of Sacramento's new management probably doesn't want to start things off with a conflict, gives this one a chance.
And it's where we would start the bidding.
Hield is not our first choice for who we want the Mavs to pursue this offseason, and he might not even be our second or third choice, but he's a realistic option who would definitely be a roster upgrade, and Dallas should keep tabs on the situation.
Also, if the Mavs were to make this move, they’d probably need to add another defensive piece in free agency — perhaps a reunion with former Maverick Jae Crowder, as one example.
Stay tuned to DallasBasketball.com in the coming weeks and months leading up to the draft, as we break down the other names we have on our Mavs offseason list.