DALLAS - From a perennial dark horse team in the NBA to what seems like the shining stallion of the future, Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks gave us a taste of what the next decade will look like in the 2019-2020 season.
The Mavericks put on an impressive display in the NBA ‘bubble’, eventually falling to the Los Angeles Clippers in a tough six-game series - while having some signature wins to build on.
While this offseason has been a relative success for owner Mark Cuban and company, it's highly possible that the Mavs are still one piece away from challenging the Lakers, Clippers, and Bucks for a championship. Time will tell this season, but Dallas might end up needing a third star in the trade market this year, or in the 2021 offseason, to become a legitimate title contender.
Mavs fans dream of Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards, among others. Did that dream just get crushed? Have recent events changed what we consider three attractive targets?
Here are those three ... and the potential changes ...
Victor Oladipo: The Indiana Pacers All-Star guard is entering the final year of his four-year, $84 million rookie extension and will become an unrestricted free agent after this season. While rumors have floated of a potential connection with the Mavericks, Oladipo has denied all reports of wanting out of Indiana.
Meanwhile, the Mavs privately believe that trade acquisition Josh Richardson might be able to accomplish much of what Oladipo would in a Dallas uniform. That's not an argument that J-Rich is exactly on the same level as an All-Star ... just that Richardson's presence deserves an examination over time.
And, of course, that "time'' can come next offseason when Oladipo is free.
Kyle Lowry: With Fred VanVleet signing a hefty extension to stay in Toronto, will the veteran guard Lowry look for a new home following the season? The former NBA champion is coming off of another solid year, leading his team to the Eastern Conference Finals and averaging 19.4 points on the season.
Lowry is not a name oft-connected with Dallas. But we can envision it. And ... We can argue that a trio of Lowry, Luka, and Porzingis will have the Mavericks in prime position to compete for a Larry O’Brien Trophy. But again, that feels like a "next summer'' move.
Bradley Beal: This is the name with the "buzz.'' But things have really changed here - at least for now.
After putting up an impressive 2019-2020 season averaging 30.5 points per game, Beal and his new teammate Russell Westbrook will look to make an immediate impact this season. Signs of frustration from Beal was very evident during certain moments last season. Nevertheless, Beal would be a huge get for the Mavericks and will put them right into contention in the Western Conference.
But Beal isn't free; he'll have to grow frustrated again.
“I’m definitely curious to see the adjustment I make playing with Russ,” Beal said following the Washington swap of John Wall to Houston for Westbrook. “I will say I know him off the court a little bit. I am a fan of his. He’s a family man, great guy, great character guy. So I believe we’ll mesh well and gel well. . . . I’m adaptable, very easy to play with, so I don’t think it’ll be a problem at all.”
Without wishing ill on anyone ... MFFLs obviously hope it is a problem. While it's free agency that could eventually push guys like Oladipo and Lowry out of their present cities - and while at this stage it could be free agency or disgruntlement that could eventually push Giannis away from Milwaukee - we think the Beal/Westbrook pairing has the potential to implode.
And while Josh Richardson can do some of the things Lowry and Oladipo (and other "third-star'' types) can do, there aren't many Bradley Beals in the world. So, dream on, MFFLs. Dream on.