Dallas Mavericks

Draft Notes: Knicks, J. Jackson, Suns, Lakers

There are a number of potential player/team matches in the top 10 of this year’s draft that might make sense on paper, but should be avoided in reality, according to the staff at The Ringer. Danny Chau identifies De’Aaron Fox as a less than ideal fit for the Sixers, while Jonathan Tjarks makes the case for why the Knicks should still clear of Dennis Smith Jr.

Other picks to be avoided, in the views of The Ringer’s NBA writers? The Mavericks and Lauri Markkanen; the Kings and Jayson Tatum; and the Magic and Jonathan Isaac.

Here are a few more draft-related items from around the basketball world:

2017 Offseason Salary Cap Digest: Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks have been a perennial playoff team for most of the last two decades, but after posting their worst record (33-49) since 1998/99, they finally seem ready to retool — even as Dirk Nowitzki‘s career nears its end. While the Mavs don’t have any players eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer, they have nine players on team options, on non-guaranteed contracts, or eligible for restricted free agency. That should create plenty of opportunity for roster turnover in Dallas in the coming weeks and months.

Here’s where things currently stand for the Mavericks financially, as we continue our Offseason Salary Cap Digest series for 2017:

Guaranteed Salary

Player Options

  • None

Team Options

Non-Guaranteed Salary

Restricted Free Agents

  • Nerlens Noel ($4,187,598 qualifying offer / $10,961,225 cap hold)
  • Total: $10,961,225

Cap Holds

  • No. 9 overall pick ($2,681,900)
  • Total: $2,681,900

Trade Exceptions

Projected Salary Cap: $101,000,000

Maximum Cap Room: $34,340,379

  • The Mavericks have six fully guaranteed contracts on their books. Adding cap charges for their first-round pick and five empty roster spots brings their total team salary to $66,659,621. That would create enough flexibility to pursue a maximum salary player, but it also doesn’t account for players like Noel or Nowitzki, who will almost certainly be back. So, barring cost-cutting trades, Dallas figures to have less cap room than that when July begins.

Footnotes:

  1. Merji’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after July 12.
  2. Liggins’ salary becomes partially guaranteed ($26,773) after June 24 if team option is exercised.
  3. Brussino’s salary becomes fully guaranteed after July 6.
  4. Finney-Smith’s salary becomes partially guaranteed ($100,000) after July 6.
  5. Uthoff’s salary becomes partially guaranteed ($200,000) after July 30.

Salary information from Basketball Insiders and The Vertical was used in the creation of this post.

Teague Might Be Dallas' Most Realistic Free Agent Option

The Mavericks own the No. 9 pick in the upcoming draft and if they go with a frontcourt player, it could signal that the team is planning on adding a point guard this offseason. Jeff Teague could be a realistic option for Dallas this summer, the staff at The Dallas Morning News speculates. Teague will turn 29 next month and he could help Dirk Nowitzki make the playoffs one last time before leading the team’s younger players for the next few seasons.

Texas Notes: Ntilikina, Mudiay, Paul, Rockets

Several Mavericks executives have traveled to Europe over the past month to watch French point guard Frank Ntilikina, relays Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. At 6’5″, Ntilikina is among the bigger point guards in the draft, and he possesses athleticism and skill to go with his size. Dallas is believed to be targeting point guards after waiving Deron Williams in February so he could sign with a contender. The Mavericks hold the No. 9 pick, and Sefko expects Ntilikina to be among the players considered, along with North Carolina State’s Dennis Smith Jr., Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen and Gonzaga’s Zach Collins.

There’s more news today out of Texas:

  • The Mavericks have a better shot at solving their point guard problems through the draft than by trading for someone like Emmanuel Mudiay, writes Matt Mosley of The Dallas Morning News. The seventh pick in the 2015 draft, Mudiay was a heralded prospect but has experienced shooting problems through his first two NBA seasons. He is a 37% shooter from the field and was stuck behind Jameer Nelson in the Nuggets’ rotation. Mosley says Ntilikina or Markkanen would be a better gamble with the No. 9 pick.
  • Signing Chris Paul may not get the Spurs any closer to challenging the Warriors for Western Conference supremacy, argues Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Adding the All-Star point guard would requiring sacrificing someone like LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol or Danny Green in a trade, and it would destroy the salary flexibility the team has set up for next summer.
  • North Carolina center Kennedy Meeks was the biggest name to attend a pre-draft workout for the Rockets this week, relays Tom Miller of The Grand Forks Herald. Also at the session were Quinton Hooker of North Dakota, Paris Lee of Illinois State, JaJuan Johnson of Marquette, Kavin Gilder-Tilbury of Texas State and Tacko Fall of Central Florida, who decided to withdraw from the draft and return to school. “My agent hadn’t said anything about the Rockets’ interest,” Hooker said. “I was anticipating at least one [NBA tryout]. But for the last month, I’ve just been waiting. It was definitely a humbling experience to get that first one and show my talents.” The Rockets own picks 43 and 45 in next month’s draft.

Mavs Could Find PG Answer In Draft

Mavericks Notes: Noel, Russell, Point Guards

Nerlens Noel has garnered comparisons to defensive stalwart Tyson Chandler for his rebounding and defensive abilities but injuries have stalled his progression. Following a midseason trade from the 76ers to the Mavericks, Noel posted 8.5 PPG and 6.8 RPG in 22 games. However, the 23-year-old will need several additional years to hone his game before he’s in that class, Eddie Sefko of Dallas Morning News opines.

Noel has shown glimpses of elite talent in his three NBA seasons but has generally been inconsistent. Sefko acknowledges that if the Mavericks envision a longterm future with Noel as a fixture, he will need two-to-three years of seasoning before he possibly reaches his potential. For his part, Noel, a restricted free agent, expressed his desire to remain in Dallas.

“I love Dallas,” Noel said last month (via The Sporting News). “In my short time here, I’ve really enjoyed it. With the pieces that we have, and the opportunities we’ll be seeing in the near future, I think there’s a lot to be excited for.”

Below are are additional Mavericks notes:

  • In a separate piece, Sefko examines the possibility of the Mavericks pursuing Lakers point guard D’Angelo Russell. The Lakers own the second overall pick in the NBA Draft and if they draft UCLA standout Lonzo Ball, having two point guards may be redundant for the Lakers. If Dallas fails to draft a solid point guard, Sefko believes Dallas will call Los Angeles to discuss Russell but the price to acquire a second overall pick from two seasons ago will likely be astronomical.
  • Sefko further delved into the Mavericks’ point guard situation, stating emphatically that the team needs to acquire someone who can shoot. The aforementioned Russell fits the mold as the 21-year-old has averaged 14.3 PPG in his two NBA seasons. In-house options like Devin Harris, Yogi Ferrell, and J.J. Barea are also strong options for Dallas but a more established option makes sense.

Several Teams Interested In Otto Porter

The Wizards have no intention of letting Otto Porter walk in restricted free agency, but a bevy of rival teams will try to pry him from Washington, Sean Deveney of Sporting News reports. The Nets have long been interested in Porter and Deveney adds that the Sixers and Magic will consider making the small forward an offer this summer.

It was recently reported that an extension for John Wall will be at the top of the team’s list and the organization would like to get that done before moving onto other objectives, which include a Porter deal. One anonymous GM cautions that Washington shouldn’t wait too long to come to terms with the Georgetown product.

“If his situation goes past the first couple of days of free agency, it will cost them because some of these teams that have space and miss out on the players they have in mind to start with are going to move quickly to the restricted [free agents],” one GM told Deveney. “And Otto Porter is going to be at the top of that list, even at $100 million.”

The Mavericks had intended to pursue Porter, but that was before they acquired a restricted free agent of their own in Nerlens Noel. Deveney suggests that Dallas may not be looking to tie up its cap space on a rival restricted free agent while its own player is free to sign with other teams. Noel is expected to receive a lucrative offer from the franchise and once he signs with the team, nearly all of the team’s cap space will be exhausted. Then again, Owner Mark Cuban could always work out a verbal agreement with Noel, akin to what Detroit did with Andre Drummond, which would allow the Mavs to use its cap space on other players before circling back to a Noel deal.

Porter, who went to college in the Washington area and is comfortable in the city, has little reason to give the Wizards a discount, Deveney adds. It was previously reported that Porter could be a candidate for a max contract. The salary cap is projected to come in at $101MM next year, meaning the soon-to-be 24-year-old could command a starting salary of slightly over $25MM in a four-year deal worth north of $115MM.

Mavericks Notes: Noel, Dirk, Draft

The Mavericks are eager to re-sign Nerlens Noel and owner Mark Cuban sounded optimistic about the team’s chances of doing so in a recent radio appearance on 105.3 The Fan’s Ben & Skin show (h/t The Dallas Morning News).

“I’m not allowed to talk about [negotiations] but all I can tell you is he’s one of a bunch of guys who came in, they all got together and said ‘Let’s go down to the practice facility and start working out together,'” Cuban said. “So they’re down there now and so that’s exciting to see, and he’s part of that group.”

Noel is a restricted free agent, meaning the team can match any offer sheet he receives. Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • Cuban added that Dirk Nowitzki is becoming more involved with the Mavericks‘ scouting department, as The Dallas Morning News relays. “To his credit, there are some Europeans we’re talking to about him now, talking to him and getting feedback from [his coach] Holger [Geschwindner] who’s maybe seen them,” Cuban said. “And having him talk to coaches, he’s a little bit more involved early in the process rather than just walking into the war room and giving feedback then.”
  • The Mavericks will take the best player available at No. 9, Cuban said during that same radio appearance.  “We’ll probably air on the side of long term. We’re not drafting for need so we’ll probably take the best possible player,” the team’s owner added.

Draft Notes: Fox, Ntilikina, Chartouny

De’Aaron Fox was eyeing Sacramento as a destination even before the Kings moved up in the lottery, Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com tweets. The Kings need a long-term option at the point guard position and Fox could be the answer when they pick at No. 5. Howard-Cooper notes that Fox is friends with center Willie Cauley-Stein.

Here’s more on the upcoming draft:

  • Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report (Twitter link) hears that the Knicks, Mavericks, Sixers and Kings are the franchises which spent the most time scouting Frank Ntilikina in France over the past month. Ntilikina is the 10th best prospect in the draft, according to Draft Express’ Jonathan Givony.
  • Joseph Chartouny will withdraw from the draft and return to Fordham next season, sources tell Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports (Twitter link). The point guard scored 11.9 points and dished out 4.6 assists during his sophomore campaign at the university.
  • While it appears the Ball family may get their dream outcome of Lonzo Ball playing for the Lakers, Adi Joseph of USA Today lays out four scenarios that could hurt LaVar Ball‘s master plan.

Mavericks Notes: Holiday, Draft, Isaac

Dallas will reportedly pursue Jrue Holiday in free agency this summer, though, as Luke Adams of Hoop Rumors noted earlier today, fitting in a max-salary contract will require the front office to make some changes. The Mavericks have nearly $60MM in guaranteed salaries on the books, a figure which does not include Dirk Nowitzki‘s $25MM team option.

Nowitzki has previously taken a discount to help the club, though it’s unclear if he’s willing to make a similar sacrifice this offseason. Dallas could simply opt not to pick up the future Hall of Famer’s option, but it’s likely that the power forward is involved in any decision that the team makes. Adding Holiday wouldn’t make the team a title contender, but it would certainly increase the team’s chances at making the postseason and perhaps Nowitzki strives for that reachable goal.

The UCLA product is just two years older than Harrison Barnes and building around those two players, along with 23-year-old Nerlens Noel and their 2017 first-round draft pick, makes for a sound strategy. It’s worth noting that Noel will be a restricted free agent in July. However, I suspect that the team will come to a verbal agreement with the center, use its available cap space to bring in talent, and then circle back to signing Noel akin to how Detroit handled Andre Drummond‘s restricted free agency last summer. That’s merely speculation, yet it’s the route that would allow the Mavericks to maximize their resources.

As we wait to see what additions the team will make, check out some notes from Dallas:

  • The Mavericks believe Barnes can be the team’s power forward once Nowitzki retires, so the team should look to avoid drafting a four, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News argues. Sefko notes that there are not many power forwards ranked high enough to take at No. 9, so it may not be an issue for the team.
  • Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News believes the Mavericks can’t pass up on Jonathan Isaac should he slide to No. 9 in the draft. The scribe notes while Dallas needs point guard help, it could use talent anywhere and it should simply take the best player available.
  • The Mavericks tanked late in the season and it didn’t work out as well as they planned, Sefko writes in a separate piece writes. Sefko notes that the team won its final regular season game, something that cost the team at least one spot in the draft.
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