Dallas Mavericks: Why upgrading roster isn’t the top offseason priority

The Dallas Mavericks want to get better this offseason but signing an outside free agent to do so comes with restrictions.

The bizarre 2019-20 NBA season went better than expected. Most preseason forecasts had the Mavs as a fringe playoff team and, at best, easy first round dispatch. Instead Dallas finished just a couple games out of a top-4 seed and a worthy opponent to arguably the deepest team in the NBA.

The result of this is the already lofty expectations get raised and the timeline to contention advances. Next season the Dallas Mavericks have their eyes set on a much bigger goal than just first round attendee and naturally want to take the next big step. The best way to do that is by adding another star player this offseason in free agency.

But the thing to keep in mind is upgrading the roster through free agency this offseason is not the top priority. The Dallas Mavericks have organized their contracts to open up max money NEXT offseason – not THIS offseason.

The 2021 offseason has been earmarked in every NBA executives’ planner for the past three seasons. With a windfall of free agent talent slated to hit the market that offseason, multiple teams stand to win big. Names like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Paul George, and Jrue Holiday are superstars in which teams could build around.

It’s not hard to see what the addition of one of these players would do to a team like the Dallas Mavericks. Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are locked in for the long-term and there’s roughly 10 players who will be available in this class that rate just as good as KP, if not better.

Based on past free agent failures, Dallas would be a longshot to get the apple of their eye, but the sheer volume of talent ups their odds of getting an elite player this time around – so long as they keep the powder dry for a max contract.

So while 2020 free agent players like Fred VanVleet, Danilo Gallinari, and Davis Bertans would certainly help the Dallas Mavericks take that next step, they would essentially remove Dallas from the free agent race in 2021.

This will likely be another wheeling and dealing offseason for Dallas. Most suspect Tim Hardaway Jr. will opt in meaning Dallas will basically just be playing with their mid-level exemption in free agency. To make a significant upgrade they’ll need to use the trade market but even that has major restrictions since they don’t want that player’s salary to carry over into 2021.

It’s perfectly possible they could ship a player and/or their two picks for the upcoming draft in order to add a third star on an expiring contract but those options are few and far between. The chances of anything major are slim to say the least.

The best way for the Dallas Mavericks to improve next season is going to be from within. If KP can stay healthy and get back in a groove the Mavs can get better AND keep their options open in 2021. You’d expect having Porzingis, Jalen Brunson, and Dwight Powell would be more than enough to propel the Mavs to the second round of the playoffs, after all.

Next: 4 players for the Dallas Mavericks to target in free agency

What do you think? Should the Mavs strike while the iron is hot and upgrade the best they can this offseason or do you think they should keep their options open for the class of 2021?