The Dallas Mavericks aspire to win championships with Luka Doncic as the cornerstone of the franchise. They currently sit fifth in the Western Conference standings with a chance to gain home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Over the past two seasons, the Mavericks have faced a tough LA Clippers team led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, ending their run after the first round. Doncic provided excellence in Dallas, but just didn’t receive enough support to pull it off.
The overriding question for the Mavericks is whether the team already has enough around Doncic or, if not, what needs to be done to change that? Meanwhile, Jalen Brunson and Dorian Finney-Smith are closing in on free agency, and Tim Hardaway Jr. recently suffered a foot injury that could end his 2021-22 season.
With Brunson and Finney-Smith’s recent game, the question has shifted more to whether the Mavericks can keep both players. According to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, the team “expressed confidence” in their chances of making it.
As rival staff continue to posit that Dallas will have to choose one of Jalen Brunson or Dorian Finney-Smith to sacrifice before their next free agency windows, the Mavericks have expressed confidence in their ability to retain the two key contributors. To do that, Dallas will have to stave off the expected advances from New York for Brunson.
It was previously reported that Brunson would be looking for up to $20 million per season on his next deal. Now, Fischer is reporting that Finney-Smith will be seeking “about $15 million” in average salary on his next contract.
The idea of paying Brunson and Finney-Smith a combined average annual salary of $35 million to start their next contract would be a difficult landscape for the Mavericks to navigate. Keep in mind, Doncic is starting a supermax deal next season while Kristaps Porzingis will earn $33.8m in 2022-23 and has a player option of $36m for 2023-24.
One of the recent teams that paid a premium to keep roster players and are now experiencing the “worst case” of this scenario is the Portland Trail Blazers. The cost to keep the superstar only increases over time and unless there are hits on the draft picks, championship contention is not an easy feat to achieve.
Cost cutting in other areas is likely to occur for the Mavericks with names like Dwight Powell, Tim Hardaway Jr., Maxi Kleber and perhaps even Reggie Bullock possibly being options to watch as the season approaches. trade deadline. And even if the Mavs don’t offload contracts now, they could still do so around the NBA draft before free agency.