This is a second of what will become 29 articles covering the Nets’ free agency and trade options this summer, as related to all 29 foes across the league. Which players may be poachable? Which are a lock not to come to Brooklyn? What shots can the Nets take?
As stated in the first article, about the Hawks’ assets, the Nets’ mission this summer is simple. This needs to be operation load up on as many under 25 assets as possible. That means employing all means possible to find them. First rounders, second rounders, D leaguers, international players? You name it, the Nets must try it.
So what do the Mavericks have to offer the Nets?
First, despite sitting in lottery position, the Mavericks are not going to outright tank, as Dirk Nowitzki plans to play next year. Mark Cuban has always believed in trying to win to build and maintain a culture, and he is not going to start tanking now.
Nevertheless, while not outright tanking, the Mavericks have made a concerted effort to get younger around Dirk. The plan in Dallas seems clear: rebuild, while trying to remain both competitive, and flexible enough to make a big strike on the market.
So what can the Nets poach from the Mavericks?
The answer, unfortunately, is not all that much; but the Nets can explore.
The Mavs will have a first round pick this year. The pick is currently at slot 10. Their second rounder will likely go to the Sixers by virtue of the Nerlens Noel deal (their first rounder in the deal is top 18 protected and becomes a second otherwise). The Mavs thereafter likely have their complement of draft picks, and own the Warriors’ 2019 second rounder.
Perhaps the Nets can try to acquire the Mavs’ first rounder; but that appears highly unlikely. The Mavs have Noel, who fits like a glove next to Dirk given the way Tyson Chandler once fit as a rebounder and shot blocker. As such, they likely have no interest in Lopez. Absent Lopez, the Nets simply lack the ammo to even THINK of acquiring the 10th pick in the draft. Efforts in that regard are likely to be a dead end.
From there, there is another angle to explore: do the Mavericks see Dwight Powell (and perhaps even AJ Hammons or Jose Barea) as dead money at this juncture? The Mavericks will have little flexibilty this summer. When you factor in Dirk’s return, the 10th pick, and Yogi Ferrell’s and Dorian Finney-Smith’s team options, and the Mavs have just a smidgen under $12 million in cap space before factoring in Nerlens’ Noel’s cap hold of nearly $10.9 million, and the Mavs essentially have no cap space this summer. Their only way to get any space, really, is to dump some dead or near dead money, like Powell’s contract.
For the Nets, that is worth exploring. However, there does not appear to be much traction to get something done. The Mavs are trying to get younger, and the 10th pick is a huge chip for them to do that. They would have to be senile to deal that pick just to dump Powell. After that, the Mavs have a mix of second round picks, and low end rosterable youth. At some point, cap space matters as well, and Powell’s three years are simply not worth fringe youth. Perhaps the Nets can try to squeeze a distant future first for Powell: again, however the Mavs would be crazy to do that, especially considering that they cannot add a star in free agency this summer with the money that a move would generate.
In addition, while the Mavs have a history of not valuing lower end youth, their second rounder is already Philly’s, thanks to the Noel trade. Obtaining a second rounder here is not an option.
Nicolas Brussino, an undrafted power forward, is on the Mavs’ bench, doing little this year. The Mavs may let him go, but his per 36 numbers are subpar.
Otherwise, the Mavs have Finney-Smith as a young talent and are not likely to decline his option. If they do, he is worth a look for the Nets because he has shown flashes of talent.
Lastly, of course, Noel is a restricted free agent, so the Nets, in theory, can make him an offer. However, the Mavs brought him in to build in part around him, and will match any offers.
The Nets will look to improve this summer. The Mavericks are not a likely source of that improvement.