2022 NBA Offseason Preview: Dallas Mavericks

Halfway through the 2021/22 season, the Mavericks – still below .500 through 35 games – appeared headed for another middle-of-the-pack playoff spot and an early postseason exit. However, Dallas’ fortunes took a turn for the better when the team decided to give up on the Kristaps Porzingis experiment, sending him to D.C. along with a second-round pick in exchange for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans at the trade deadline.

The move raised eyebrows around the basketball world, given that Dinwiddie and Bertans were on pricey multiyear contracts and were having down years for the Wizards. The fact that the Mavericks couldn’t get more for the oft-injured Porzingis was a sign of how significantly his stock had dropped since Dallas acquired him from New York in 2019.

But the Mavs recognized that, besides being more consistently healthy than Porzingis, Dinwiddie and Bertans were better fits for the rotation, providing the sort of play-making and outside shooting that perfectly complemented Luka Doncic. The two veterans – particularly Dinwiddie – bounced back and played key roles in the the Mavs’ strong finish — the team posted the NBA’s second-best record (20-7) from deadline day onward.

The Mavs’ success carried over into the postseason, where they dispatched Utah and Phoenix in the first two rounds before running into the eventual champion Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. It was easily the deepest playoff run the club had made since winning the title in 2011, and it came at just the right time, with Doncic’s second contract set to go into effect in 2022/23. More moves will need to be made around the perennial MVP candidate to solidify Dallas’ spot as a true title contender, but this year’s success signaled things are headed in the right direction.

The Mavericks’ Offseason Plan:

The Mavericks have already made what will be one of the biggest moves of their summer, agreeing to send the No. 26 pick in this year’s draft and four bench players (Sterling Brown, Boban Marjanovic, Marquese Chriss, and Trey Burke) to Houston in exchange for big man Christian Wood.

Wood has established himself in recent years as one of the NBA’s most talented frontcourt scorers and rebounders, averaging 19.1 PPG and 9.9 RPG on .507/.384/.626 shooting in his 109 games with the Rockets. However, his defensive limitations, lingering character concerns, and contract situation (he’ll be an unrestricted free agent in 2023) hindered Houston’s ability to trade him for more than a late first-round pick and salary filler.

The Wood trade, which can become official after the Mavericks officially draft a player on behalf of the Rockets on June 23, accomplishes two things for Dallas.

For one, it gives the Mavs the sort of versatile offensive threat up front that they lost when they traded away Porzingis. Both Wood and Porzingis can hit outside shots, but Porzingis had a tendency to lean on post-ups and mid-range shots more than Dallas might have liked, while most of Wood’s two-point attempts come around the basket, making him a better pick-and-roll partner for Doncic. Given what he’ll bring to the offense, the Mavs will be happy to get even average production from Wood on the defensive end.

The four-for-one swap will also give Dallas some additional roster flexibility entering the offeason. Prior to the trade agreement with Houston, the Mavs had 14 players under contract for next season and wanted to re-sign Jalen Brunson to fill the 15th spot on the roster. Now, even if Brunson is re-signed, the club will have at least three openings on its 15-man squad.

Speaking of Brunson, his free agency will be the most crucial issue for the Mavs to address this offseason, especially now that the team has fortified its frontcourt by agreeing to trade for Wood. Brunson has steadily improved in each of his four NBA seasons, putting up 16.3 PPG and 4.8 APG with a .502/.373/.840 shooting line in the 2021/22 regular season and then boosting his scoring average to 21.6 PPG in the playoffs.

It’s a safe bet that Brunson will receive a four-year deal at least in the Fred VanVleet/Malcolm Brogdon/Lonzo Ball range ($80-85MM). The question is how much higher the bidding might go, with teams like the Knicks and Pistons reportedly interested in prying the point guard away from Dallas. The Mavs hold Brunson’s Bird rights and could go all the way up to the max if they need to, but they’ll pay a penalty for every extra dollar they spend, since their team salary projects to surpass the luxury tax line even without Brunson on the books.

Team owner Mark Cuban isn’t the type to pinch pennies and let Brunson walk to save money, so I’d be surprised if the point guard isn’t back with the Mavs next season. There are other players on the roster, including Dinwiddie ($20.2MM), Tim Hardaway Jr. ($19.6MM), Bertans ($16MM), and Dwight Powell ($11.1MM) whose contracts could be shopped if Dallas feels the need to keep the payroll in check.

Of course, the flip side of that argument is that the Mavs probably won’t be able to move players like Dinwiddie, Hardaway, Bertans, and Powell for anything of real value, and may have to attach assets to a couple of them to trade them at all. A sign-and-trade deal involving Brunson, meanwhile, could net one or two legitimate assets, and Dinwiddie gives Dallas a fallback option at point guard. While those are compelling reasons to at least consider the idea of a sign-and-trade, I don’t expect Brunson to be the odd man out on this Mavs roster.

As for how the team should fill its final roster spots, Theo Pinson is said to be a strong candidate to receive a promotion from his two-way deal to a standard contract, and the Mavs will reportedly explore the idea of signing Goran Dragic, adding another intriguing layer to the Brunson negotiations.

Maxi Kleber and Frank Ntilikina have non-guaranteed salaries for 2022/23 and it will be interesting to see whether the Mavs decide to part with either player. Kleber had perhaps his worst year as a pro this past season, but has been a reliable rotation piece in Dallas for most of the last five seasons, while Ntilikina’s defensive ability makes him a worthwhile investment at his price point ($2.04MM). Even if they both have their salaries guaranteed, they’ll be on expiring contracts and could be trade chips in the offseason or at the ’23 deadline.

If Kleber and Ntilikina are back and the Mavs are confident in Hardaway’s health and Josh Green‘s ability to play a regular role, the club could target one more frontcourt player to fill out the roster. A defensive-minded center to help Wood and Powell match up with the Nikola Jokics of the world would make some sense. One more wing would also be a fit.

Salary Cap Situation

Note: Our salary cap figures are based on the league’s latest projection ($122MM) for 2022/23.

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

  • None

Team Options

  • None

Non-Guaranteed Salary

Restricted Free Agents

  • None

Two-Way Free Agents

Draft Picks

  • None

Extension-Eligible Players

Note: These are players who are either already eligible for an extension or will become eligible before the 2022/23 season begins.

  • Maxi Kleber (veteran)
  • Dwight Powell (veteran)

Unrestricted Free Agents / Other Cap Holds

Offseason Cap Outlook

With $143MM+ already committed to nine guaranteed contracts, the Mavericks project to go over the projected $149MM tax line even if they fill out their roster with minimum-salary players. Guaranteeing Kleber’s salary and re-signing Brunson would push Dallas’ team salary way beyond that threshold.

Cap Exceptions Available

  • Taxpayer mid-level exception: $6,392,000 6
  • Trade exception: $10,865,952


  1. Doncic’s salary will be worth 30% of the salary cap. If the cap ends up above or below $122MM, this figure will be adjusted upward or downward.
  2. The Mavericks’ trade for Wood can’t be officially completed until draft night.
  3. Kleber’s salary will become fully guaranteed after July 3.
  4. Ntilikina’s salary will become fully guaranteed after July 4.
  5. The cap holds for Redick and Melli remain on the Mavericks’ books from prior seasons because they haven’t been renounced. They can’t be used in a sign-and-trade deal.
  6. This is a projected value. The Mavericks could instead have access to the full mid-level exception ($10,349,000) if they remain below the tax apron.

Salary and cap information from Basketball Insiders and RealGM was used in the creation of this post.

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