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As NBA Trade Deadline Looms, Mavs Planning to Keep Brunson & Finney-Smith?

The Dallas Mavericks face a situation where the team needs to think about retaining pending NBA free agents. Do they like their chances?

The Dallas Mavericks have aspirations of winning championships with Luka Doncic as the franchise-cornerstone. Right now, they sit fifth in the Western Conference standings with a chance to earn home-court advantage in the first-round of the playoffs.

In the last two seasons, the Mavericks encountered a tough LA Clippers team led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George—ending their run after just the opening round. Doncic provided Dallas with excellence but just did not receive enough support to get it done. 

The prevailing question for the Mavericks has been whether the team already has enough around Doncic, or, if not, what needs to be done to change that? All the while, Jalen Brunson and Dorian Finney-Smith are approaching free agency, and Tim Hardaway Jr. recently suffered a foot injury that could end his 2021-22 season. 

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With the recent play of Brunson and Finney-Smith, the question has moreso shifted to whether the Mavericks can keep both players. According to Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer, the team has 'expressed a confidence' in their chances of doing so. 

While rival personnel continue positing Dallas will have to choose one of Jalen Brunson or Dorian Finney-Smith to sacrifice ahead of their upcoming free agency windows, the Mavericks have expressed a confidence they will be able to retain both key contributors. To do so, Dallas will need to stave off the expected advances from New York for Brunson.

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It was previously reported that Brunson would seek upwards to $20 million per season on his next contract. Now, Fischer reports that Finney-Smith will be seeking 'roughly $15 million' in average salary on his next contract.

The idea of paying Brunson and Finney-Smith a combined average annual salary of $35 million to begin their next contract would be a tough landscape to navigate for the Mavericks. Keep in mind, Doncic is in the midst of beginning a supermax deal next season while Kristaps Porzingis will earn $33.8 million in 2022-23 and has a $36 million player option for 2023-24. 

One of the recent teams who paid a premium to keep role players around and is now experiencing the 'worst case' of that scenario is the Portland Trail Blazers. The cost to keep the superstar only gets higher as time goes on and unless there are hits on draft picks, championship contention is not an easy feat to reach.

Cutting costs in other areas would likely need to occur for the Mavericks with names like Dwight Powell, Tim Hardaway Jr., Maxi Kleber, and perhaps eventually even Reggie Bullock could be options to watch as the trade deadline approaches. And even if the Mavs don't offload contracts now, they could still do so around the NBA Draft before free agency.