Dallas Mavericks in need of a makeover following early exit in NBA Playoffs

Vincent Frank
Mavericks star Luka Doncic during NBA Playoff game against the Clippers
Aug 25, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) reacts in the second half against the LA Clippers in game five of the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks gave it their best fight against a much better Los Angeles Clippers team in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

Unfortunately, things just didn’t work out for this squad. Injuries to Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis were followed by a 43-point blowout loss in Game 5. Dallas then dropped Game 6 on Sunday by the score of 111-97, eliminating the team from the playoffs altogether.

Doncic and Porzingis are the two building blocks in Big D. After that, it’s a combination of unproven young talent and pieces that are not necessarily fitting for a winning game of chess.

The Mavericks must make changes behind these big two this coming offseason if they want to be taken seriously as title contenders in the Western Conference. Let’s look at what the team must do.

Mavericks must acquire a third star in a blockbuster trade

  • Dallas has assets to make this work. Center Maxi Kleber, 28, could very well be of interest to other teams looking to add a skilled big man to the mix. He averaged 9.1 points and 5.2 rebounds this past season.
  • As you already know, salaries would have to almost completely match when it comes to a blockbuster trade. Dealing away the expiring contracts of Tim Hardaway Jr. ($18.9 million) and Justin Jackson ($5.0 million) in addition to Kleber could net Dallas a near-max player.
  • From there, the Mavericks offer up their first-round pick in 2020 (18th overall) and potentially a future first-round selection to entice another team.
  • Just spit-balling here, but a package like this could potentially net someone like Cleveland Cavaliers big man Kevin Love. We already know Dallas has been looking for a big that can shoot from the outside. If not Love, maybe Dallas ups the ante even more and sees what it would cost to bring in Ben Simmons from Philadelphia.

Time for the Mavericks to give Seth Curry a legitimate shot

  • Luka Doncic is a ball-dominant guard. That makes sense given his ability to create his own shot and distribute with the best of them. This also makes Curry a perfect fit in the back court.
  • The 30-year-old guard averaged 12.4 points on 45% shooting from the field this past season. Sure he’s a liability on defense and smallish to play off-guard, but the dude can flat out shoot. Given Doncic’s passing ability, playing Curry north of 30 minutes per game needs to be in the Mavericks’ plans moving forward.

Mavericks must add depth in free agency

  • It’s not going to be easy for Dallas to do much once the offseason comes calling. The team has an estimated $4 million in cap room. With that said, they can’t be relying on the players we witnessed see extensive action this past season.
  • Jalen Brunson, Courtney Lee, Dwight Powell and Delon Wright combined to start 67 games in 2019-20. While the brass likes Powell, his salary could be used to acquire bench options that would upgrade the second unit.
  • Mid-tier free agents will likely be forced to take less cash this offseason due to the economic issues around the NBA. Dallas must see if it can get into that market, duplicating what we’ve seen from the Warriors and Lakers in recent years. That means bringing in legitimate veteran options on the cheap. Doncic is certainly a draw in this regard.

Bottom line: Mavericks must add more star power

It’s becoming increasingly evident that relying on Porzingis to stay healthy throughout the duration of a season is not a recipe for success. That’s the other backdrop as Dallas licks its wounds from the team’s first-round playoff loss.

More than that, today’s NBA requires either two top-end stars or legitimate players that can take the onus off that one true star. Porzingis might not be that guy for now.

The good news here is that Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is always looking to make that splash. It’s what landed Dallas Doncic in a draft-day trade in the first place. Get that other star, add some depth, and these Mavericks will be bandied about among the best in the NBA next season. Take that to the bank.