With training camp a little more than one month away, the Dallas Mavericks appear to have improved their roster overall despite no longer having Jalen Brunson. However, how much better Dallas will be could depend more on the performances of in-house guys rather than the new additions of Christian Wood, JaVale McGee and Jaden Hardy.
Tim Hardaway Jr. tops that list, as he'll look to bounce back from a rough 2021-22 campaign that ended with him having surgery on a foot fracture in February. When healthy, Hardaway Jr. can give the Mavs 15 points per game on any night, both as a sixth man or a starter if needed. The problem last season, though, was his efficiency, as he shot just 33.6 percent from 3-point range after shooting 39.4 percent over the previous two years combined.
Although Hardaway Jr. could potentially help the Mavs out on the court, it wouldn't shock anyone if he was eventually used as a trade piece at some point either. He has three years left on his contract worth a total of nearly $54 million, but it's a descending deal, which means he'll be making $16 million in the 2024-25 season opposed to the $20 million he'll make this year.
According to Heavy.com's Sean Deveney, the Golden State Warriors might make sense as a potential trade partner at some point.
“It won’t be a great (free-agent) class next year,” one Eastern Conference executive told Deveney. “Obviously, the Mavericks would love a guy like Khris Middleton, but he won’t be leaving Milwaukee, I think. Kyrie Irving, if you want to put him with Luka which, I wouldn’t.
“But there will be opportunities, gettable guys, some restricted free agents out there, Cam Johnson or Tyler Herro. … You could go hard after the Warriors, whether it’s (Jordan) Poole or (Andrew) Wiggins. You’d rather go with a younger guy, a guy like Poole, but the Mavs could do worse than adding Wiggins to that mix.”
Based on that conversation, this mock trade was formulated:
Mavs receive: Andrew Wiggins
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Warriors receive: Tim Hardaway Jr., Reggie Bullock, lottery-protected 2025 first-round pick.
There are reasons for both teams to say no to that proposal, but that is especially true from the Mavericks' side of it.
First of all, it's hard to envision GM Nico Harrison spending a future first-round pick on a non-star player when Dallas' future draft capital is already limited. Once the Mavs' 2023 first-round pick likely conveys to the New York Knicks next summer, it will open up a handful of new big trade opportunities. The Mavs are unlikely to further handcuff themselves for a player like Wiggins, despite his improvements over the last few years.
Secondly, for a team that will need all the extra help it can get to fill the void left by Brunson's departure, sending out two key players who combine for over 20 points per game plus a future first-round pick for a guy who makes $33 million while averaging 17 points per game doesn't seem like the way to go.
Hardaway Jr. may end up being traded at some point, but if it does happen, look for it to be an opportunistic deal that doesn't require the Mavs to give up any first-round picks – like last season when they traded Kristaps Porzingis to the Washington Wizards for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans.
You can follow Dalton Trigg on Twitter at @dalton_trigg
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