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Offseason In Review: Dallas Mavericks

Hoops Rumors is in the process of looking back at each team’s offseason, from the end of the playoffs in June right up until opening night. Trades, free agent signings, draft picks, contract extensions, option decisions, camp invitees and more will be covered as we examine the moves each franchise made over the last several months.



  • None


  • Acquired Zaza Pachulia from the Bucks in exchange for Dallas’ 2018 second round pick (top-55 protected).

Waiver Claims

  • None

Draft Picks

  • Justin Anderson (Round 1, 21st overall). Signed via rookie exception to rookie scale contract.
  • Satnam Singh (Round 2, 52nd overall). Signed in the D-League.

Camp Invitees

Departing Players

Rookie Contract Option Decisions

  • None

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Phoenix Suns

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

The offseason was a lesson in the differences between the terms “free agency” and “team control.” DeAndre Jordan famously taught the Mavs and the NBA world about the vagaries of the July Moratorium, too, with his infamous flip-flop that left Dallas with no alternative that was nearly as attractive as Jordan following through on his commitment to the Mavs would have been. Tyson Chandler, surprised by the team’s decision to prioritize Jordan instead of him, had already bolted for the Suns. Only the defensively challenged Enes Kanter, essentially a mirror opposite of Jordan, was left among marquee free agent centers by the time Jordan signed with the Clippers, and as the Thunder proved when they matched the offer sheet that Kanter signed with the Trail Blazers, he wouldn’t have ended up in Dallas, anyway.

The Pacers had already committed to trade Roy Hibbert to the Lakers, and the Kings clung fast to DeMarcus Cousins in spite of all the rumors. So, the Mavs came up with a low-cost alternative, sending virtually nothing to the Bucks for Zaza Pachulia, whom Dallas absorbed into its cap space. It was not a heralded acquisition, to be sure, yet Pachulia has long proven a valuable part of winning teams. He was a mainstay on the Joe Johnson/Josh Smith Hawks, and he started 45 regular season games and all six postseason contests for a resurgent Milwaukee squad last season. He’s only once been a full-time starter, but as his averages of nearly a double-double so far for the Mavs prove, he’s capable of filling that role with the right supporting cast around him.

Of course, it’s debatable whether the Mavs have enough around him to make the playoffs. Dirk Nowitzki had another birthday in June, his 37th, and the month before that, Chandler Parsons had right knee surgery that’s limited his playing time this season. Plus, Wesley Matthews, who inherited both a max contract and the mantle of having been the team’s most prominent offseason addition when Jordan turned tail, hasn’t quite looked himself yet as he returns from a torn Achilles tendon.

Matthews was a gamble on the four-year, $57MM deal to which Dallas originally signed him, and he comes with an even greater risk at the four-year max of about $70MM that he wound up with post-Jordan. The Mavs reached agreement with Matthews before their ill-fated deal with Jordan, and when they did, they promised Matthews they’d give him $57MM, the most they’d have left over if they signed Jordan, and the max if they didn’t, according to Tim MacMahon of They honored that commitment when Jordan backed out and even gave Matthews the chance to get out of his deal, but the Jeff Austin client decided to stick to it, as MacMahon detailed. It all added up to a contract for the former Blazers shooting guard that at least one opposing GM called “insane”, but the Mavs nonetheless have a player who wants to be part of the team and who’s determined to return to form as perhaps the best three-and-D wing in the game.

He replaces Monta Ellis, whom the team appeared to show little interest in retaining. The same was true of backcourt partner Rajon Rondo, as three-fifths of last year’s starting lineup, which the team had appeared eager to keep together in the days shortly after the Rondo trade, departed via free agency. Filling Rondo’s place is Deron Williams, whom the Mavs reportedly emerged as a strong bet to sign even before he worked his buyout with the Nets. His presence on the Mavs roster at not quite $5.379MM this season represents a touch of optimism about the team’s plight this summer, not necessarily because of his ability to outplay that salary, but because the Mavs would be paying him more than $20MM this year if he had picked Dallas when he was the No. 1 free agent target in 2012. The 31-year-old is clearly no longer an elite talent, and he’s averaging his fewest points, assists and minutes per game since he was a rookie, but at a salary akin to the mid-level, his production is commensurate with his pay.

The Dallas bench is devoid of a couple of key figures from last season, including Al-Farouq Aminu, who quickly committed to the Blazers and thus was unavailable when Jordan’s return to L.A. meant the Mavs suddenly had the cap space necessary to keep the combo forward who’d blossomed under coach Rick Carlisle. The specter of the broken Jordan deal also painted the departure of Richard Jefferson, who backed out of his deal to re-sign to instead ink with the Cavs, albeit with owner Mark Cuban’s blessing.

J.J. Barea, like Matthews, received a bump in his pay because of Jordan’s indecision, going from a two-year, $5.7MM arrangement to $16MM over four years. The 31-year-old spark plug still provides a lift off the bench and a link to the franchise’s championship squad, but while $4MM isn’t too much to pay at this point, a strong chance exists that he won’t be nearly as productive by the fourth year. It’s a front-loaded contract, but it still calls for him to make more than $3.71MM in the final season.

The Mavs didn’t invest nearly as much in JaVale McGee, whom they hope will be just as integral as Barea is, if not more so. McGee’s slow-healing leg hasn’t allowed him to play despite the team’s commitment of a $750K partial guarantee, but the Mavs could use a jolt, especially at center. They can go until January without committing more than $1MM to see if the 27-year-old can rekindle the promise he once showed with the Nuggets, and with a team salary just slightly above the cap, it’s a justifiable gamble.

That’s especially so with the team’s strong contributions for minimum-salary players Dwight Powell and John Jenkins so far. The Mavs elected to keep Powell and cut others with fully guaranteed deals despite Powell’s quiet rookie season, and he’s rewarded them with 10.5 points and 8.1 rebounds in just 22.1 minutes per game. Jenkins, a former first-round pick who has struggled to find his footing in the NBA, was a preseason sensation for Dallas after signing in the offseason, and he had a 17-point game against the Clippers in his second regular season game for the Mavs.

It’s a testament to Carlisle’s skill and further reason why the Mavs signed him to a five-year, $35MM extension this month, picking up his 2016/17 team option in the process. He’d made the case for it time and again over the years, and while speculation mounted about Carlisle’s future before the deal, it didn’t seem as though Cuban and the Mavs would ever let one of the game’s best coaches get away.

Carlisle’s fingerprints are all over the team’s surprising 7-4 start. It was a most heartbreaking offseason for the Mavs, but they remain a threat on the market for next summer, and with Carlisle, Matthews, Parsons, whatever Nowitzki can give them and perhaps a budding mainstay in Powell, who’ll be a restricted free agent next summer, they have an attractive supporting cast. It’s just that the superstar addition they’ve longed for still remains out of reach, and out of their hands.

Eddie Scarito contributed to this post. The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of it.

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One thought on “Offseason In Review: Dallas Mavericks

  1. Dana Gauruder

    Carlisle will always find ways to wring victories out of the roster handed to him. But the Mavs will struggle to make the playoffs and I doubt they’ll get out of the first round even it they reach the postseason.

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