The Dallas Mavericks made some progress this offseason. It started with the surprisingly cheap acquisition of Christian Wood, but quickly transitioned to the loss of Jalen Brunson. Other transactions include the additions of JaVale McGee in free agency and Jaden Hardy in the NBA Draft.
Is this enough movement for the Mavs to take the next step as a title contender after reaching the Western Conference Finals last season? The Athletics’ Tim Cato does not believe so.
"Right now, it isn't clear the Mavs have improved, " said Cato, who gave Dallas a B- for their offseason transactions so far. He then offered insight into how the Mavs' offseason compared to the rest of the league.
"The general rule for offseasons is that if you don't move forward, you've fallen behind. In the loaded Western Conference that may apply to the Mavericks.”
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The additions of McGee and Wood will provide tremendous upsize for a team lacking big-man depth. Against the Golden State Warriors, the Mavs were outrebounded 234-177. The Mavs’ starting backcourt, Luka Doncic and Brunson, led the team in rebounding.
Despite improving in that specific area, the loss of Brunson will be tough to overcome. The former Maverick was Dallas's second-leading scorer in the playoffs. In the first round against the Utah Jazz, Brunson averaged 27.8 points. His best performance came in Game 2 when he scored 41 points and dished out eight assists.
"The team lost Brunson for nothing, and its roster, as it currently stands lacks playmaking. … It's likely Dallas makes at least one trade prior to the season's start," Cato said.
What potential moves could present themselves in the coming weeks? How about taking advantage by jumping into a three-way trade with the Jazz and New York Knicks when Donovan Mitchell eventually gets traded? Could the Mavs change their stance on a Kyrie Irving trade if his price comes down in the Kevin Durant aftermath?
Regardless of which route the Mavs choose to take, leaving a roster spot open signals a willingness to be flexible and patient as other situations around the league play out. Let’s see if GM Nico Harrison can surprise people yet again.