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Mavs Should 'Worry About Keeping Luka Doncic,' Warns Woj

The Dallas Mavericks' options are bleak to surround Luka Doncic with more help. Their roster construction blunders were highlighted on national television.

Luka Doncic has suggested that Dallas Mavericks have nothing to worry about.

But Woj is worried ...

The Mavs have received a historic level of play from three-time All-NBA First-Team guard Luka Doncic. Despite averaging 33.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 8.7 assists through 20 games, his team is currently sitting at 10-11 following yet another letdown loss against a shorthanded team, losing 131-125 to the Detroit Pistons on Thursday. ... and now in New York for a relatively high-profile Knicks matinee.

With no other game scheduled in the NBA on Thursday, the full focus of the league was on Doncic and the Mavs. What they got to see was a player whose team lacks talent, defensive execution, and inexplicably continues to underutilize their top supporting cast players. 

During an appearance on ESPN's "NBA Today" on Friday, Adrian Wojnarowski discussed the Mavs' recent roster-building blunders while discussing the potential moves they can make to get more help for Doncic. 

"They're limited in the assets they have in Dallas to do something significant," Wojnarowski explained of the Mavs' current trade options. 

It all starts with how the Mavs lost their former second-best player, Jalen Brunson, for nothing after he stepped up and was the co-pilot for Doncic during the team's Western Conference Finals run. Instead of building toward getting over the hump, Dallas took a major back seat by misjudging the market.

"It's rare that a contending team like Dallas just allows a player like Jalen Brunson to walk out the door in free agency," Wojnarowski said. "There are a couple of reasons... Brunson would have taken — during last season, he was eligible for a $56 million extension. 

"Dallas didn't want to offer it until after the trade deadline in case they had to include Brunson in a big deal to go out and get a higher-level No. 2 player for Luka. By the time they got back to Brunson, he was ready to head into free agency. They lost him for nothing. They misjudged the market on Jalen Brunson."

While any team will have some successes, there are no shortage of mistakes the Mavs have made that are hurting the team now. The troubling history of draft performance and free agency pursuits were highlighted. 

"For an organization like Dallas that has historically and very recently hasn't drafted very well, they've gone out in free agency and overpaid people like Wes Matthews or Chandler Parsons, they've missed big free agents," Wojnarowski said of the Mavs' recent roster building pitfalls. 

"You have to be able to keep players like Jalen Brunson, even if you're going to use him like a trade asset. You look at a team like Jrue Holiday, they were looking for their third star to they and win a title with, and they gashed a lot of their assets to try to do it. Dallas is in a position right now — they don't really have a second-best player. 

The major move the Mavs have made to pair a co-star with Doncic was the trade to acquire Kristaps Porzingis from the New York Knicks. Dallas has since deemed that to be a failure and moved him at last year's midseason deadline to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans. They still owe their 2023 first-round pick (top 10 protected), limiting their options for short-term moves.

"The deals they can do is marginal, they're going to be margin, maybe some slight upgrades but it's going to include more draft picks," Wojnarwoski said. "They still owe the Knicks on Kristaps Porzingis. They thought Porzingis was going to be that side-kick with Luka Doncic, it didn't work. Now they have Bertans and Spencer Dinwiddie to show for it. 

"You look at the team building in Dallas and listen, a player like Luka Doncic, the clock is always running for an organization. If all of a sudden you end up in the play-in this year, you lose in the first round next year and you get deeper in his contract and you don't have a supporting cast, you worry about keeping that player. So all of those things are in play for Dallas right now."

The current trajectory the Mavs are on is bleak barring any major changes. Much of their supporting cast has limited ceilings and are already 30 or older, suggesting continued declines in impact in the short-term. The only other dynamic complement they have is Christian Wood, but he seems currently cemented to a bench role in a contract year. 

It would be difficult to envision Wood not choosing to take a starting role if one was available in free agency, as is the case for any player. Brunson departed for the Knicks partly so he could be the orchestrator of the half-court offense considering naturally, Doncic will always run the Mavs' offense while he's there. That would be another blunder for Dallas considering they parted with the No. 26 overall pick to acquire him. 

Right now, the clock is ticking for the Mavs to build a real contender around Doncic. They do not have a co-star to pair with him and much of their rotation is filled with limited talents. Other superstars have multiple dynamic talents they can rely on take pressure off them. Meanwhile, again, Dallas has yet to embrace Wood — the only player who meets that mark. 

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