DALLAS - NBA free agency is about to open and the Dallas Mavericks know what they want. In three different areas:
*A secondary ball-hander who is a two-way player.
With the focus on bolstering the roster around Luka Doncic ... we know Dallas is interested in DeMar DeRozan, who stands at 6-foot-6, appears to be an answer in all three of those categories for what the Mavericks appear to be seeking.
And we know Dallas is interested in Goran Dragic, too - and he is a fit in two of those three categories.
Most of the secondary ball-handlers that will be available in free agency are smaller guards ... and sources are telling us to not expect Kyle Lowry or Mike Conley to choose Dallas. Indeed, with Miami reportedly picking up Dragic's option, the Mavs might get blocked there, too.
But as a dual goal: Could the Mavericks target the former All-Star DeRozan - and also win a level-down player in Dragic?
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DeRozan may have his choice of teams viewed as more insta-contenders than Dallas. Dragic might as well.
But in terms of what Dallas wants? DeRozan would take on all three of the aforementioned roles in the event he were to sign with Dallas.
DeRozan is coming off an impressive season for the Spurs. He appeared in 61 regular season games and posted averages of 21.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 6.9 assists (career-high).
Dragic remains a viable top-of-rotation player and is, as Mavs fans know, like a big brother to fellow Slovanian star Doncic. (Again, Miami's opt-in there means Dallas' pursuit would be much more complicated than hoped.)
The fit on the floor is sensible. The fit, cap-wise? There are ways to make it work while also prioritizing the planned retention of Tim Hardaway Jr. as he enters his pending free agency. (Sources now tell DBcom that the Pistons might pursuit Hardaway, so even that one suddenly looks tougher than once hoped.)
Hardaway primarily plays off-the-catch and does not fit the mold of a secondary ball-handler. So he would actually figure as an even more productive player if teamed with Doncic, DeRozan and, in some capacity, Dragic.
The Mavericks could slot in DeRozan at the 3- or 4-spot and keep Kristaps Porzingis at the 5 to maximize floor spacing. Meanwhile, the backcourt would be fortified ... and Dallas with DeRozan and Dragic would be a more talented team than in 2020-21, and if all is Luka-friendly, a happier and maybe more successful team as well. Now the Mavs just need to figure out how to get there.