Donnie's Mavs 'Not Done Yet' - So What's Next Move?

Mike Fisher

DALLAS - In a Wednesday frenzy of NBA Draft Night movement, GM Donnie Nelson engineered the addition of four new players as part of what the franchise hopes is a fast acceleration to true contention.

“But,'' Nelson said early, early Thursday morning, "We're not done yet. We still want to get this team better on both sides of the ball."

"We're not done yet'' means more Mavs shopping to come, officially when Friday's NBA free-agency window opens.

READ MORE: Mavs NBA Draft Donuts: Grade 'A' For Defensive Effort

So in addition to the Seth Curry trade for Josh Richardson, a two-way player who slides right into the top of the rotation (and the addition of the three draftees) - what represents possible "next moves''?

The $9.3 million MLE is an available tool. But it might not be all it is billed as. In the recent past, the Mavs have chopped up the MLE to secure longer contracts with second-round picks. Dallas did so with Jalen Brunson. If they do it with the pair of second-rounders they landed on Wednesday (Tyrell Terry at 31 and then in part of the Richardson trade, Tyler Bey at 36), that slices the $9.3 mil into something less.

READ MORE: What Mavs Are Getting In Josh Richardson Trade

READ MORE: Tim Hardaway Jr. Exercises Player Option; Will Return to Mavs

One moving part was Tim Hardaway Jr. The Mavs worked on the assumption that the starting wing and last year's third-best scorer would opt in - and that they would resist any temptation to trade him. That has come to fruition. He's in.

So, some realistic scenarios, in order of (our) preference:

*Paul Milsap in Denver. Problem: This would surely take more than the MLE, which means the Nuggets would have to "help'' Dallas take their player. Seems unlikely.

*Serge Ibaka in Toronto. Possible, but another team will likely offer the center more than the MLE.

*Christian Wood in Detroit. We like this one. He's a breakout 25-year-old, 6-10 and versatile - and notably, he was once on a Dallas Summer League Team. A free agent the Mavs know very well.

*Jae Crowder. A reunion with an old friend who knows how to play with a physical edge?

*Otto Porter Jr, an expiring contract in Chicago. He fits the sort of mold Dallas has chased before (i.e, he's Robert Covington-like.) Porter is due $28 mil, which makes this one complicated, as it would likely have to involve all three of Delon Wright, Justin Jackson and Courtney Lee.

*Thaddeus Young in Chicago. Once a lottery pick, now a 32-year-old. Is Dallas willing to commit years here? The Mavs would have to trade for him, but he wouldn't have to move much - we believe Young likes in DFW.

We can "think bigger,'' especially as the recent Bucks-Kings trade and Sixers-Thunder trade being put on ice raises some questions about the status of Danilo Gallinari, Danny Green, Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic.

READ MORE: NBA Trade Frenzy: Can Mavs Still Pursue LaVine, Hield or Oladipo

But realistically, and again assuming Hardaway as a keeper, Dallas may be using as tools all or part of the MLE and then trade bait in the names of Delon Wright and Justin Jackson.

As an example: Those two make a combined $14 million, so Dallas can take back someone making $19 million. (And again, we suppose Lee should be on this list of "tools'' as well.) That's not an especially "sexy'' collection, but there are fits. The Bulls, for instance, might be short on guards, and Wright could actually help them.

What we know is that Dallas recognizes that they are working on a condensed offseason clock ... and there is clearly a sense of urgency in their actions to build around Luka Doncic.

Of the offseason, coach Rick Carlisle said, "You can clock this thing with an egg timer.''

Of the motivation in part in the first-round selection of Josh Green, Rick said, “One of the reasons we were drawn to Josh is he has a level of maturity. He’s an international player, by nature probably a little more worldly than your average college draft prospect. In this kind of a microwave-type situation, we feel he’ll be as well-prepared as he can be.''

This offseason is indeed a "microwave'' situation ... and with realistic goals and the limitations that cause them, we're about to see what the Dallas Mavericks have cooking.

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