DALLAS - Much attention gets placed on big names when discussing potential offseason moves, and rightfully so. The Dallas Mavericks have positioned themselves to swing big this offseason.
With new bosses GM Nico Harrison and coach Jason Kidd being regarded highly among players, the organization has positioned itself with clear intentions of bolstering its recruiting efforts.
One of the challenges the Mavericks will face this offseason is a lack of truly elite targets. Many of the superstars who were supposed to headline this year's free agency class like Giannis Antetokounmpo have long signed contract extensions.
The Mavericks did not have enough firepower around Luka Doncic during their first-round playoff exit. It will be a priority to change that with an emphasis placed on finding a secondary ball handler. ... and maybe, bigger, a second star. Dallas' needs are not limited to just that one need, however.
With Tim Hardaway Jr. set to be a free agent, the Mavericks need to have tabs on backup options. If he were to sign elsewhere, there would be a need to replace his perimeter shooting impact.
There will be a variety of key veteran options for the Mavericks to consider if faced with having to replace Hardaway Jr. Among the most intriguing perhaps would require a trade with the Sacramento Kings for Buddy Hield.
Why would the Kings trade Buddy Hield?
Buddy Hield has not lived up to the four-year, $94 million contract extension he received from the Kings. There is reason to consider moving on from him in order to pay a player who has managed to do so in Richaun Holmes, who is set to be a top free agent.
De'Aaron Fox ($28.1 million) and Harrison Barnes ($20.3 million) are set to earn a combined $48.4 million for next season. Keep in mind, Holmes could command a deal in the range of four-years, $80 million.
Using $20 million as a filler figure for Holmes' 2021-22 salary, the Kings would be paying out roughly $90.5 million for Fox, Hield, Barnes, and Holmes. Doing so would be unwise when considering this is a group that failed to even reach the play-in tournament.
The Kings could choose to let Holmes walk in free agency but certainly does not appear to be their intention. Sacramento would need to find an area to save some money if they want to free up future room to make changes. That's where Hield comes into play.
With Sacramento already finding a better long-term backcourt partner for De'Aaron Fox in Tyrese Haliburton, moving on from Hield appears to be a logical choice.
How could a potential trade work?
For a potential trade scenario centered around Buddy Hield between the Mavericks and Kings to work, there are a variety of potential options. The general premise would need to involve Sacramento freeing up future cap space.
If Josh Richardson chooses to opt-in for his final-year player-option worth $11.6 million, he could become a key component to a potential trade package.
Richardson was almost out of the Mavericks' rotation in the playoffs but still posted averages of 12.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.6 assists in the regular season. His reputation as a defender could intrigue a Kings team who deployed the NBA's least efficient defense.
The Kings do need to add more shooting in the frontcourt, especially if Holmes were to be retained. Marvin Bagley III is not a floor-spacing threat and the team moved on from Nemanja Bjelica midseason. A role player like Maxi Kleber. who does space the floor with perimeter play, could be quite helpful.
Including both Richardson and Kleber as the main pieces in a potential trade package would leave just a $2.1 million gap in salary with the Mavericks taking on the extra amount.
Perhaps most intriguing of all is that Kleber's salary in 2022 is non-guaranteed until July 3, 2022. If the Kings wanted to clear as much cap space as possible, they could let Richardson walk and waive Kleber in order to have that spending entirely off their books.
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If the Mavericks needed to include draft compensation to entice the Kings into making a deal, it likely wouldn't need to be significant. The trade value may not seem fair on a surface level, but Hield is not a positive asset at this point due to his contract.
In a situation where Richardson were to opt-out, the Mavericks could use that extra salary cap space to just take on Hield's deal. Alternatively, including a different player like Dwight Powell, who is set to earn $11 million next season, is also an option.
Of course, more draft compensation would be needed in a scenario where Powell and Kleber are the two pieces going to Sacramento. He will earn $11.1 million in 2022-23 and that makes for a considerable difference in outcome for the Kings, financially.
Does this trade make sense for the Mavericks?
Perhaps the main concern for the Mavericks entering the offseason is the need to add a secondary ball handler to alleviate pressure from Luka Doncic. Of course, a trade for Buddy Hield would not resolve that particular need.
Not every need has to be resolved in a single move, though. The fact still remains that Dallas needs to continue to add as much shooting around Doncic as possible. That notion would only be furthered if Hardaway Jr. were to depart.
There may not be many more qualified/available talents to bolster the Mavericks' perimeter-shooting capabilities than Hield. He converted at a 39.1% clip while averaging 10.2 attempts per game -- a volume that trailed only Stephen Curry (12.7) and Damian Lillard (10.5).
The bet the Mavericks would essentially be making is that Hield (who happens to have an offseason affinity for DFW) would be able to live up to his contract playing alongside Doncic. Tim Hardaway Jr. is set to land a major deal anyway, and with Hield's deal having descending value, it could end up being cheaper to have Hield.
Doing so would be quite justifiable when considering Hield would be playing alongside one of the NBA's elite playmakers in Doncic. There would be favorable, open shots throughout games at a higher rate than he's received with the Kings.
What makes Hield all-the-more intriguing is his ability to convert tough catch-and-shoot looks, particularly from the strong-side wing even when a defender is contesting. This would afford the Mavericks the capability to truly make defenses pick their poison when Doncic is running pick-and-rolls.
One of the more intriguing elements of Hield's off-ball skill-set is that he can be deployed in off-ball screening actions and as a ghost screener since he is impactful shooting off-the-move. There would be plenty of options in this regard with Doncic.
Hield is more than capable of providing a secondary pick-and-roll scoring presence with his ability to convert on pull-up jumpers. This is something that Hardaway Jr. was unable to do in the playoffs, even though he was phenomenal overall.
While Hield (16.6 points per this year) isn't a high-volume isolation scoring threat, he was highly efficient on the opportunities he did have to attack in this area last season. He can get to his step-back or pull-up from beyond the arc in addition to getting to his spot in mid-range.
Perhaps the most intriguing element of a potential trade for Hield is how the Mavericks would be optimizing their cap spending. There would still be flexibility to add a potential secondary ball handler into the mix.
The Mavericks would need to get creative in their pursuit of a secondary ball handler after a Hield trade, however. Dallas, while hoping to not say goodbye to Hardaway (it would all be a tight squeeze), would need to find either 1) a wing like DeMar DeRozan (via sign-and-trade?) who can fill this role, 2) pursue a smaller name that fits the mold, or 3) deploy a smaller perimeter lineup.
Again, Buddy Hield as an option all boils down to the fact that having one of the highest volume perimeter shooters next to Doncic has significant value. It would be an intriguing way to maximize the Mavericks' output by buying low.