The NBA fined the Dallas Mavericks $750,000 for tanking at the end of the regular season in order to protect their first-round pick. Now that Dallas holds the 10th pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, it plans to use it as a valuable trade asset this summer.
The Mavericks traded away a majority of their valuable pieces during the season to acquire Kyrie Irving. While Irving is likelier to return to Dallas after the franchise paid a significant price to acquire him, the organization recognizes a stronger supporting cast is needed around Luka Doncic.
Dallas is extremely limited in its ability to trade first-round picks. Because of the Kristaps Porzingis trade and the Stepien rule, the Mavericks are only allowed to trade the 10th overall pick and their 2027 first-round pick. To sweeten an offer and help match salaries, though, Dallas is reportedly going to shop an offer around the league.
According to The Athletic’s John Hollinger, the Mavericks are expected to shop a trade package of the No. 10 pick and either one or both of JaVale McGee and Davis Bertans for “immediate” help.
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The Mavericks will be in a crowded field of suitors. Both the Portland Trail Blazers (third pick) and Houston Rockets (fourth pick) are offering trade packages involving their first-round selection and a player.
With the Rockets planning to sign James Harden and Portland focused on making win-now moves to support Damian Lillard, Dallas won’t be able to offer as much as either Western Conference opponent. As a result, the Mavericks will have to prioritize other players who neither Houston nor Portland would likely focus on.
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Identifying three Dallas Mavericks trade targets
The Mavericks won’t be able to get in the mix if players like Joel Embiid, Mikal Bridges or Paul George become available. Instead, general manager Nico Harrison can turn his attention to second-tier players that would help Dallas become a viable playoff team next season.
- OG Anunoby, Toronto Raptors – The Dallas Mavericks were one of the worst NBA defenses last season, especially after the Irving trade. Dallas ranked 25th in Defensive Rating (116.1) on the season and a defensive-minded wing is one of their biggest needs. OG Anunoby, had a 113 Def Rating this past season and a +2.2 Defensive RAPTOR. With the Toronto Raptors more receptive to trade offers this summer than they were during the season, Anunoby could be a prime target for Dallas to pursue.
- Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks – The Milwaukee Bucks are already making changes after a first-round playoff exit and consecutive disappointing efforts in the postseason. Khris Middleton has already surfaced in trade rumors this offseason, with many believing the Bucks could be receptive to a sign-and-trade. Middleton – 113 Def Rating, .117 UWS/48 – would be a complementary wing to pair with Doncic and the Mavericks would feel comfortable with him playing off the ball and improving this team defensively.
- Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns – If Dallas is determined to make a trade this summer to improve its roster, Deandre Ayton is the most reasonable target. The Phoenix Suns didn’t want to lose him for nothing last summer, but it’s evident he doesn’t want to play for them and the feeling seems mutual. Ayton will likely never become the player everyone wanted him to be and Mavericks’ fans shouldn’t expect a change of scenery to suddenly get him to realize the physical talent he has. However, he’s the most cost-effective trade option and Dallas would still be landing one of the 10 best NBA centers at a reasonable price.