DALLAS - With much attention being placed on the star names in free agency, the Dallas Mavericks will need to avoid losing sight of retaining Tim Hardaway Jr. if they seek to retain him for the long-term.
As reported by The Athletic's Shams Charania, the Mavericks 'have prioritized' re-signing Hardaway Jr. ahead of free agency. The same has been told by sources to DallasBasketball.com.
From both a salary cap and order of operations standpoint, it makes a lot of sense for the Mavericks to move quickly on a new contract for Hardaway Jr. as opposed to waiting.
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Many teams will attempt to make a run at Hardaway Jr. in free agency, so from that standpoint alone, pursuing big names while hoping he sits tight at his own detriment would not be a wise approach.
There are a variety of teams who could make a run at Hardaway Jr. that need to be monitored. Whether it's an aspiring contender with personal ties like the Miami Heat, or a rebuilding team looking to add a veteran with money to spend as in the case of the Detroit Pistons.
There is also the element that Hardaway Jr. has a cap hold of $28.4 million that would need to be dealt with prior to making any other moves. He will surely sign for a solid amount less than that mark on his next deal annually, so if the end-game is to keep Hardaway Jr. no matter what, getting a deal done fast is ideal.
The Mavericks would still have the option of using a salary-dump trade to clear some more space. The decision that Josh Richardson makes on his $11.4 million player option will help to determine what needs to be done in this regard.
A prime candidate for a salary dump appears to be Dwight Powell given he is set to earn under $11.1 million in 2021-22. Finding a trade suitor perhaps like the OKC Thunder who want to take. on bad contracts to add more assets could work.