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Luka-Friendly: Mavs Seek Wing, Will 'Explore' Signing Goran Dragic

The Mavericks still have plans to add talent around Luka Doncic after the Christian Wood trade.

DALLAS - The Dallas Mavericks have wasted no time with making roster changes after their Western Conference Finals appearance. They agreed to a trade that would land Christian Wood in exchange for four expiring contracts and the No. 26 overall pick. 

With the Mavericks moving those four contracts to the Rockets, they will open up three roster spots. According to Marc Stein, they will prioritize adding wing depth in addition to exploring the possibility of signing Goran Dragic.

And of course, the Dragic attraction is among the NBA’s worst-kept secrets.

The top priority for the Mavericks being wing depth doesn't come as much of a surprise. Reggie Bullock (39.3) and Dorian Finney-Smith (38.2) each neared the 40 minutes per game threshold in the postseason without having a third 3-and-D wing to rely on. 

With Frank Ntilikina being a bigger guard, it enabled the Mavericks to rely on him at times to guard players like Devin Booker, but he still averaged only 10.4 minutes per game. Tim Hardaway Jr. will be returning from injury 

The Mavericks relied heavily on Luka Doncic, Jalen Brunson, and Spencer Dinwiddie as their guard personnel in the playoffs. With Hardaway Jr. sidelined, Trey Burke was the 'emergency' option as essentially their fourth guard. Given that Burke is set to be traded to the Rockets, they could use another guard.

There would be a more pressing need to add guard talent for the Mavericks if Brunson were to depart in free agency. Dinwiddie could play a larger role, but regardless, there would be a need to add another creator. 

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Dragic, 36, spent most of the 2021-22 season being away from NBA basketball. He was traded to the Toronto Raptors in part of the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade and only appeared in five games before both sides decided it was mutually beneficial for him to not play.

The Mavericks were linked to Dragic often in rumors leading up to his buyout, but the addition of Dinwiddie in the Kristaps Porzinigis trade changed their plans. There were already 15 guaranteed roster spots at the time — making it challenging to open up space.

“We knew that Goran [Dragic] would be a potential buyout candidate, and there’s other names out there too, but we’ve done our homework," Mavericks GM Nico Harrison said. "We think we know who all is going to get bought out. But at the end of the day, we have 15 roster spots already filled, and for us to bring someone in, whoever that person could be, we’d have to release somebody, and I don’t think we want to do that. I think we like our roster how it is, and there’s no one that I would feel comfortable releasing at this point to add room for somebody else.”

Dragic signed with the Nets after he was traded to the San Antonio Spurs for Thaddeus Young before being bought out. He struggled during his regular season performances with the Nets but provided timely contributions in the playoffs. During his four postseason performances, he averaged 10.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 19.8 minutes per game. 

While minimum contracts are always an option, the Mavericks will face limited options to compete with offers for free agents since they have just the $6.3 million Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception at their disposal. They do have a near $10.9 million trade exception created by the Josh Richardson trade, but it expires on June 27, before free agency. 

You can follow Grant Afseth on Twitter at @GrantAfseth

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