It will be a very interesting offseason for the Dallas Mavericks, especially after they finished with a disappointing 38-44 record, missing the play-in tournament entirely. How the Mavs front office decides to build around Luka Doncic will be fascinating, as they know they will be on the clock as it is simply inexcusable for a team boasting the services of a 24-year old guard who averaged 32/8/8 to finish with a record below .500… all the while being $56 million over the salary cap.
The outcome of the Mavs’ 2022-23 season has come as a result of one bad (or at least shortsighted) decision after another (taking on Davis Bertans’ contract, letting Jalen Brunson go for nothing, trading away their best point of attack defender for Kyrie Irving), and even team owner Mark Cuban admitted to not having the requisite foresight to build properly around one of the best stars in the NBA.
Still, with Luka Doncic under contract until at least the end of the 2025-26 season, the Mavs have plenty of time to pursue the necessary pieces to give the Slovenian wunderkind the supporting cast he needs to mount yet another deep playoff run.
But among those pieces, how many are already on the current Mavs roster? And how many of their impending free agents are worth keeping in a few months’ time?
Here are the two best players the Mavs must re-sign in the 2023 NBA free agency to appease Luka Doncic.
Kyrie Irving has built a reputation over the years of having the reverse Midas touch. He has either left the franchise he played for worse for wear (Brooklyn Nets) or his former team immediately improves when he leaves (Boston Celtics). It’s not too hard to see the rationale behind this leaguewide perception of the mercurial point guard, as he has had a tendency to distract his team with his off-court troubles, opinions on vaccination, and his sometimes passive-aggressive nature with his teammates.
Even then, there’s a reason why Irving gets plenty of second chances around the league. Irving is as dynamic of a scoring point guard as they come, as he’s a proficient bucket-getter from everywhere on the court — a true three-level threat. His efficiency at his size also jumps off the page, as he’s able to finish around contact with arguably the deepest layup package in the NBA.
In 60 games this past season, Irving averaged 27.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 5.5 assists on 49.4 percent shooting from the field, numbers only a bonafide star can produce on a nightly basis. There’s a huge reason why the Mavs decided to shake things up by adding someone who can be as unpredictable as Irving in the middle of the season. He simply is that talented of a player.
Alas, the Mavs have won just 5 of their 16 games with both Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving in the lineup, although it’s difficult to blame Irving too much for that given how much they struggled as a team to stop their opponents from scoring.
Even then, it’s not the worst question in the world to ask whether Irving is the best fit alongside Doncic, especially when the Mavs will need to pony up a contract worth around $49.5 million per annum to keep the unpredictable point guard in town.
However, the Mavs will need to protect their investment by re-signing Kyrie Irving, so it’s hard to envision a scenario where the Mavs let him walk, especially when they won’t even have the necessary cap space to find a suitable replacement if they decide that they’ve had enough of the 31-year old floor general.
Beyond that, the Mavs could also try and make the Doncic-Irving partnership work by trading away a few superfluous pieces for defensive reinforcements.
To begin the 2022-23 season, it looked like Christian Wood was such a shrewd acquisition for a Mavs team that made the Western Conference Finals. At the very least, Wood was someone who could take on the offensive workload that Jalen Brunson’s departure left behind.
However, for much of the season, Wood failed to earn the trust of head coach Jason Kidd. To end the season, Wood found himself relegated to such a small role off the bench, crossing the 30-minute mark just once since he returned from injury in February.
So why should the Mavs re-sign Wood then? The answer is simple: it’s never a good idea to let a talented player go in free agency, especially when that player is someone whom the team gave up a first-round pick for. Wood shouldn’t cost too much as well, given his poor end to the season.
Nonetheless, the Mavs must do everything in their power to keep Wood, if only as a trade chip.
The post 2 best players Mavs must re-sign in 2023 NBA free agency appeared first on ClutchPoints.