Mavs Trade Deadline Look-Ahead: Potential Targets and ‘Walking the Tightrope’

Dalton Trigg

Before this season began, we talked at length — both in writing and on our Mavs Step Back Podcast — about how the Dallas Mavericks could be ‘buyers‘ at this year’s NBA trade deadline if they were in prime position to make the playoffs for the first time in three years.

With the February 6th trade deadline just a little over a month away, the Mavs, having a 22-12 record and being just one game out of having home-court in the playoffs, are definitely in that position, and then some. As mentioned in recent weeks, the MVP-level rise of Luka Doncic in his sophomore season has seemingly accelerated the Mavs’ timeline, entering them into the contender conversation probably a few years before it should’ve actually happened.

So, given the current situation, it makes perfect sense for the ‘never patient’ Mavs, as GM Donnie Nelson told us recently, to attempt to make a splash as a buyer in the next month. The only question is just how big of a splash they’re willing to make. Would the Mavs dare risk messing with their historically efficient offense when they’re already one of the best teams in the entire league? Some of these trade targets would fit in flawlessly with the Mavs’ current roster, while some would have a questionable fit at best. Let’s discuss.

Bogdan Bogdanovic

Bogdanovic is a name we’ve already mentioned a few times already, and for good reason. The Kings’ 27-year-old small forward, who just so happens to be really good friends with Doncic, is averaging 14.5 points, 3.6 assists and 3.0 rebounds for Sacramento, while also shooting 38-percent from deep.

Despite Bogdanovic playing well, the chances of him being a full-time starter with the Kings seem to be slim, as he's come off the bench in every game he's played this season. Not only that, but Bogdanovic is set to become a restricted free agent this summer, and he recently turned down the Kings' $51-million max extension offer because he knows he can get better offers in the offseason. 

But will the underachieving Kings want to commit more money than that to a player they consider a reserve, especially after breaking the bank to keep Harrison Barnes and Buddy Hield around long-term (not to mention De'Aaron Fox's next payday is coming up as well). If the answer is 'no', then expect the Kings to try to get what they can for Bogdanovic before the trade deadline, and expect the Mavs to do their due diligence there.

Robert Covington

Like the Kings, the Minnesota Timberwolves have been underachievers so far this season, and could become sellers at the deadline if nothing changes this month. Rumors are already starting to swirl about Karl-Anthony Towns not being happy in Minnesota, but with the big man putting up huge numbers and being locked into his current contract through 2024, it would make little sense for the Wolves to move on from him right now. It could be a different story when it comes to the players around Towns though.

Covington is a big, tough two-way wing that could be a perfect fit for the Mavs, despite being in a shooting 'slump' from deep by his standards so far this season. Covington is only shooting 34-percent from three, even though he's a career 36-percent shooter from deep. Playing with the space that Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis provide could certainly help raise that percentage, and the Mavs have already seen up-close what Covington is capable of.

Being that the Timberwolves don't currently have a point guard for the future, you have to think the only way the Mavs could get involved here is by offering a package that features Jalen Brunson.

Evan Fournier

Fournier isn't a guy you hear much about unless you're a die-hard Orlando Magic fan, but he's quietly had himself a heck of a season so far by averaging 19 points, three rebounds and three assists. Fournier is also shooting a career-high 41.5-percent from deep on a little over six attempts per game.

The idea of adding Fournier would be along the same line of thinking when we consider Bogdan Bogdanovic. Both players are 6-7 wings capable of both handling and shooting the ball. Both would provide Doncic and the No. 1 rated Mavs offense with another potent weapon and we inch closer and closer to the postseason. 

Andre Iguodala

Our own Mike Fisher reported the Mavs' interest in trading for Iguodala during the offseason. The package the Mavs would've been interested in sending the Grizzlies consisted of Courtney Lee and a second-round pick. Fast-forward to the present day, and our pal Marc Stein reported that the Mavs are no longer pursuing Iguodala. So what changed? This paragraph from Bleacher Report's Eric Pincus sure does make a lot of sense to us:

"Dallas projects to get the Golden State Warriors' 2020 second-rounder (from the 2016 Andrew Bogut trade), which could end up as the 31st overall selection. That could be a key asset in the bidding war for Iguodala. One Western Conference executive called the Stein report 'posturing,' saying, 'They're probably arguing over the Warriors' pick.'"

Before the season began, the Mavs were probably willing to part with that Warriors second-round pick for Iguodala, but Dallas' early-season success, paired with Golden State falling off the wagon for at least one season, changed that line of thinking. The Grizzlies were determined to hold onto Iguodala until a team offered them a first-round pick, which always seemed crazy. Now, it seems like they'd be lucky to even get a mid-to-late second-round pick.

Jae Crowder

Crowder is another low-risk, potentially high-reward player the Mavs could attempt to pry away from the Grizzlies. Unlike Iguodala, we’ve actually seen Crowder play this season, and there’s already familiarity between he and the Mavs, as he spent the first two-and-a-half seasons of his career in Dallas before being included in the infamous Rajon Rondo trade.

Crowder is a much better player now than he was in Dallas. He’s currently averaging 10 points, six rebounds and three assists this season. Ever since having the two best seasons of his career with the Boston Celtics, though, Crowder has struggled with his efficiency, as he’s bounced around from the Cleveland Cavaliers, to the Utah Jazz, and now to the Grizzlies. 

We believe a change of scenery, paired with playing in a historically good offense led by Doncic, would help Crowder get back to being that two-way threat we saw in Boston.

J.J. Redick

There’s not much explanation needed for this one. Everyone knows what Redick does best, and getting wide open looks playing alongside Doncic would only enhance that already-elite three-point shooting ability. On the season, Redick is averaging 15 points per game on an outstanding 46-percent from three-point range.

The New Orleans Pelicans have been without their prized rookie Zion Williamson all season, but even with him sidelined, many expected the Pelicans to be better than second-to-last in the Western Conference. However, despite giving the appearance of a team that could be selling some of its veteran players at the deadline, you have to remember that this is general manager David Griffin we’re talking about here.

Griffin will probably not be in the business of giving his division rival an elite three-point shooter for next to nothing. So, although we can dream about this one, we wouldn’t necessarily label it as ‘likely.’

Andre Drummond

Yahoo’s Vincent Goodwill recently reported that the Mavs had “registered interest” in trading for Drummond, which is fine, we suppose, other than the fact that the Mavs themselves are dumbfounded by the idea.

The word “leverage” gets brought up in every Mavs free agency, and we believe this could be a classic case of that concept. The Yahoo report came shortly after ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Atlanta Hawks had been talking with the Pistons about a Drummond trade. That’s pretty convenient timing, don't you think?

Drummond is one heck of an NBA player. He’s arguably the best ‘traditional’ center in the game, averaging 18 points, 16 rebounds, three assists and two blocks per game. Those are eye-popping numbers, and individually, Drummond would no-doubt be an upgrade over Dwight Powell at center. It’s just his style of play that will probably keep the Mavs from making any kind of significant move here.

Drummond in Dallas could absolutely work, but there’s also a chance that it might not work too, and for a front office that’s already seen the extreme downside of this kind of scenario five years ago, it just may not be worth messing up what you already have — which is a top-5 Western Conference contender with the best offense in the league.

If the Pistons feel like giving Drummond away for very little, then maybe it would make more sense for the Mavs to make the move. It’s all about trying to minimize the risk in this situation, not only because of the questionable fit, but also because Drummond will more-than-likely become an unrestricted free agent this summer and could go wherever he wants to..

Trades can be hard. There’s a certain balance that needs to be met to ensure that the overall talent of the roster is enhanced while also not disrupting team chemistry. Fit matters a lot, no matter how individually talented one player might be, and nobody should know this better than the Mavs after what they went through with the aforementioned Rondo in the 2014-2015 season. 

With the trade deadline right around the corner, Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson won’t be afraid to walk that tightrope again. They just might not go all the way across it without a safety harness this time around.