Did the Dallas Mavericks take a step back in 2022 in NBA free agency after losing Jalen Brunson?
The Dallas Mavericks weren’t expected to turn heads in this summer’s free agency. They were limited in what they could do as the team had already passed the cap. Still, there were steps they could take to ensure their uptrend continues.
Next season will show if Dallas front management has been successful in making these crucial moves. The biggest topic of conversation is certainly the loss of Brunson. During the playoffs, he was the team’s second best ball handler and arguably their second best player as well. That alone means the Mavericks’ free agency didn’t hold much promise in 2022.
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Dallas Mavericks 2022 NBA Free Agency Sheet Music
Loss of Jalen Brunson: F
Jalen Brunson chose to follow the money to the Big Apple. The New York Knicks also traded Nerlens Noel and Alec Burks to the Detroit Pistons to make room for a near-max contract for Brunson. This meant there would be no sign-and-trade movement, resulting in the Mavericks losing Brunson absolutely for nothing.
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In terms of points scored and game-winning assists, Brunson was second with the Mavericks. He ranked third on the roster in terms of rebounds per game. He is also only 26 years old.
What stings even more for Dallas Mavericks fans is that they could have held Brunson relatively cheaply. He could have been signed by the Mavericks for $55 million for four years, but they decided against it.
Based on comments made by Jalen Brunson’s father to ESPN during the playoffs, Brunson told Dallas in January that he would accept a contract extension if one was made at the time. However, the extension would have prevented the Mavericks from trading Brunson for a potentially bigger star before the trade deadline. Dallas did not want the trade deadline options to be restricted, so they refused to grant the extension at this time.
A few months later, Brunson lit up the postseason and helped the Mavericks through to the Western Conference Finals. In hindsight, it would have been wiser to sign Brunson in a very team-friendly deal.
Now he’s out and the Mavericks’ backcourt has left a lot to be desired.
Adding Javale McGee: C
Over in the lead-up, the Dallas Mavericks committed $20.1 million to sign veteran center JaVale McGee. This move is a bit confusing as it puts Christian Wood in fourth place and raises questions about Dallas’ vaunted small-ball combinations.
McGee, 34, is coming off a pretty solid season with the Suns. He averaged 9.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game in under 16.0 minutes of play. That’s not bad for an older journeyman center.
This will be McGee’s second start with the Mavericks, having played in the 2015-2016 season. Should he start alongside Wood, it would result in a very different looking Mavericks roster compared to last season. Will it still get better? The jury is out.
McGee improves on Dallas’ rebound and rim protection. He’s also a potentially better roll and lob target compared to Dwight Powell. McGee might also be a slightly better matchup to marquee greats like Rudy Gobert, Deandre Ayton and Bam Adebayo. His championship experience should also positively influence the team’s dressing room atmosphere.
Looking ahead, the Mavericks would do well to strike another deal to add depth on the wings and backcourt. The pain of losing Brunson will be much less if they are able to strengthen their roster with another talented player who meets one or both of these criteria.
Remember that one roster slot is still available for the Mavericks. Goran Dragic, a free agent guard and a sidekick of Luka Doncic, has often been mentioned in connection with them, but they might hesitate to hire him. You still have time to trade, but time is running out and the market is closing.