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Offseason Outlook: Dallas Mavericks

Hoops Rumors is looking ahead to offseason moves for all 30 teams. We’ll examine free agency, the draft, trades and other key storylines for each franchise as the summer approaches.

State Of The Franchise

Not many experts and analysts believed the Mavs would make the playoffs this past season, but Dallas defied expectations and, indeed, made the postseason for the 15th time in the last 16 years. It was another first round exit for the Mavs, but considering the team experienced an odd summer and was again led by an aging star in Dirk Nowitzki, this had to be considered a success.

It appeared the Mavs on their way toward locking up DeAndre Jordan to their core of Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons. Jordan, however, balked in the 11th hour and re-signed with the Clippers. The Mavs did land Wesley Matthews via free agency, though, and then  shifted gears by acquiring Zaza Pachulia in a salary dump from the Bucks. The Mavs made, perhaps, one of the shrewdest decisions of last summer by inking Deron Williams, who intends to opt out.

While Matthews was mostly inconsistent, Pachulia gave the Mavs pretty much what they could have expected and Williams over-performed in system that included other point guards J.J. Barea, Raymond Felton and Devin Harris. Nowitzki remained a capable player and dependable scorer by averaging 18.3 points per game and as long as the 38-year-old is still a fixture on the team, the Mavs will not be rebuilding. Instead, look for the Mavs to retool and add veteran talent. The Mavs will again need another steady season from Nowitzki, who is expected to opt out and re-sign, and above average contributions from the point guard position to exceed expectations. As it stands now, the Mavs must also address their rebounding deficiency; they ranked 19th in the league in rebounds per game and finished 26th in  rebounding percentage.

Free Agents

The salary cap puzzle for the Mavs this summer depends largely on three player options worth more than $30MM. Chandler Parsons will almost certainly decline his to seek more on the open market, and Nowitzki has said he plans to opt in as long as the Mavs don’t start a rebuilding project. Pachulia, Felton, Charlie Villanueva and David Lee will all hit the market as unrestricted free agents when free agency begins on July 1st. Second-year standout Dwight Powell will be a restricted free agent, giving the Mavs an opportunity to match any offer for the coveted young pro. Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson has said that the front office will prioritize re-signing free agents, which makes considering the group seemed to mesh well together.

Williams, an 11-year veteran who turns 32 in June likely needs offseason surgery to address a sports hernia. The Jeff Schwartz client said in the aftermath of the Mavs’ playoff ouster this week that he’d love to return to Dallas, and coach Rick Carlisle said he’d also like to see him return. Nelson pointed to what he saw as a renewed sense of enthusiasm in Williams’ play this season, the first for Williams with the Mavericks

There is a decent chance Parsons finds a more lucrative deal on the open market if he opts out. He sustained another serious injury last season, but that should not stop Parsons from landing what is likely to be his final significant pay day. It will be interesting to see if the Mavs re-sign the versatile forward because they already have a stretch-four in Nowitzki. It seems likely Lee could garner some interest as a bench player from other teams after he thrived with Dallas late in the season. Look for Felton, who rejuvenated his career, to return on a cheap deal and Villanueva could return for the veteran minimum. With Salah Mejri and JaVale McGee on the roster, it would not be surprising if Powell did not return if he were to land a significant offer elsewhere.

Free Agent Targets

The Mavs can offer one max contract to free agents this summer and possibly a second if Nowitzki and Parsons follow Williams and opt out for next season, as Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post recently detailed. Dallas entered the offseason expecting to have at least $32MM to spend, but that number could rise closer to $60MM if Nowitzki, Parsons and Williams all opt out. Bontemps noted that Dallas is counting on landing an elite free agent this summer and added that owner Mark Cuban is trying to surround Nowitzki, who’s likely to remain, with as much talent as possible before he retires.

If the Mavs do not re-sign Williams, they would need an upgrade at point guard. Jeremy Lin, Brandon Jennings and Greivis Vasquez all would make sense as options. Dallas would also need a scorer on the wing and a veteran that comes to mind would be Eric Gordon. If the Mavs decide to splurge a bit, Nic Batum would not be a far-fetched option.

Draft Outlook

  • Second-round pick: 46th

The Mavericks do not own a first-round pick in the 2016 Draft, as that pick belongs to the Celtics as part of the Rajon Rondo deal. Barring a deal, the Mavs’ only pick is No. 46 in the second round, so Dallas is not expected to make a whole lot of noise here. Indiana forward Troy Williams and Maryland big man Robert Carter Jr. are two names to watch as they have been linked to the Mavs in workouts and meeting. Of note, Purdue center A.J. Hammons is the No. 46 ranked player in ESPN.com’s Chad Ford’s Top 100.

Final Take

Dallas seems to be in a similar position it was in heading into last summer. The Mavs still need to find an answer at point guard, would need another big man and are unsure what to expect on the wing. Look for the Mavs to re-sign the core group of their bench players and upgrade at point guard. Dallas needs someone on the roster to emerge as capable scorer to take some of the load off of Nowitzki. As long as Nowitzki is on the team, the front office will build a team that is in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

Team Options

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Salary

Restricted Free Agents (Qualifying Offers/Cap Holds)

Unrestricted Free Agents (Cap Holds)

Projected Salary Cap: $92,000,000

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

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