Despite perhaps winning the 2018 NBA Draft with the selection of some pundits’ top-ranked player, Luka Doncic, Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram doesn’t see the Mavericks making the playoffs next season, writing that Dallas will likely end up picking in the NBA Draft Lottery for a second straight summer in 2019.
The projected lineup of Dennis Smith Jr., the aforementioned rookie Doncic, Harrison Barnes, Dirk Nowitzki and a center-to-be-named-later, while an improvement, is not enough to crack the top eight of Western Conference, in Engel’s opinion, even if that new center is potential free agent DeAndre Jordan or free-agent-to-be DeMarcus Cousins.
Despite the hype surrounding Doncic and his experience playing with professionals overseas, he will still be an NBA rookie next season, and as Mavericks’ president Donnie Nelson puts it, that means “he’s going to get his rear end handed to him.” Add in the fact that Smith Jr. is also still only 20 years old, and you’re left with one of the youngest – albeit most talented – backcourts in the NBA, which is probably not enough in the deep Western Conference.
There’s more from the Southwest Division.
- With Danny Green choosing to opt in for the 2018/19 season, the Spurs are situated to be near the projected salary cap line of $101MM at the beginning of free agency, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN. Marks adds that in addition to renouncing free agents Tony Parker and Rudy Gay, the Spurs would also likely need to unload some heftier contracts like those belonging to Green and Pau Gasol in order to create cap room this summer.
- Per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Rockets’ general manager Daryl Morey said the team wasn’t really close to making a deal to move up in last week’s NBA Draft, but that there was an opportunity to move into the No. 20 to No. 25 range.
- Pau Gasol is doubtful that the Spurs and Kawhi Leonard can mend their relationship, telling EpDeportes, via Jeff Garcia of Spurs Zone, “I do not know if the situation can be rectified after Kawhi’s request to leave, I do not know if a multi-million dollar offer would fix it, he has not talked to him for a long time, he’s a very reserved player.”