Dallas Mavericks: This veteran could be the perfect match

(Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Mavericks are rumored to be interested in several veterans this offseason; some better fits than others.

As one of the most bizarre NBA seasons comes to an end, Dallas fans are optimistic about the future of the team after an impressive first-round performance against the Los Angeles Clippers. After center Kristaps Porzingis had to sit out with a lateral meniscus tear, the team led by All-Star Luka Doncic were still able to pull out a thrilling Game 4 victory in the final seconds of overtime.

However, for all the ecstasy the Dallas-Fort Worth area experienced after the buzzer-beater shot, there was a collective realization that the team was in need of another starting-caliber talent. The revival of Trey Burke was a great morale boost and the play of Seth Curry and Dorian Finney-Smith was an integral part of the team, but even so, the team simply looked outmatched.

While Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic shot well above their season percentages, Tim Hardaway Jr shot roughly five percent worse than during the regular season and that dip was felt as the team struggled to find some offense when Porzingis had to leave the series.

In times like these, it was apparent the team needed another starting level talent; fortunately, there are several available albeit at differing costs.

Several prominent players have stated they’d like to leave their respective teams. Indiana Pacers Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner have voiced their displeasure to stay in Indianapolis. Aaron Gordon has been linked to trade offers. Jrue Holiday is always in trade rumors regardless if he asks to be traded or not.

Of all movable players, the one that is the most intriguing is Buddy Hield. The fourth-year player has been an integral part of a Sacramento Kings roster that has been vying for a chance to compete in the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. In the last two seasons, Hield has either led his team or was near the top of his team in scoring.

However, not all volume scorers are built the same. Hield, fortunately, shoots nearly 40 percent from the three-point line and has done so the last three seasons on high volume. (9.6 attempts in 2019, 7.9 in 2018, 3.1 in 2017) If he can’t hit from three, he can shoot inside and convert two-point shots at over 45 percent from the field.

The numbers are great. Hield has been a model of consistency for the last three seasons and he’s played nearly every game of his young career. With the guard entering his athletic prime (he turns 28 in December), his body couldn’t be in a better condition; most importantly, his athletic prime seems to match the timeline for the Mavericks.

Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are only 21 and 25 years old respectively. It’s unknown how long Doncic could play in the league, but given Porzingis’s injury history, it seems plausible that he can only put forth his best effort for another 6 years. Enter Buddy Hield. At the age of 28 (almost), another six years put the guard at 34 years of age. The most important thing is this would be the second year of his next contract, a contract that might not command a lot of money given his age.

Given his production thus far into his career, his current contract seems like a bargain and at its conclusion, Hield will be reaching the end of his athletic prime.

However, Hield’s age and contract aside, the rest of the Mavericks roster seems to be working the same timeline. Of the 18 players currently on the team, only six of them are younger than 27. Of those six players, two are two-way players Josh Reaves and Antonious Cleveland. Another is Justin Jackson, a strongly disliked player amongst MFFLs but an important chemistry piece for the team.

To put it lightly, this team isn’t young and with several players on expiring contracts or player options, the team will likely try to add veterans with similar levels of experience. With Hield turning 28, that would fit this criterion.

If the team were to trade for Hield, the following question is how does he fit? One of the biggest questions during the season was if the Mavericks could get anyone else to create shots for themselves and for others.

Luka Doncic was the primary ball-handler and played alongside Tim Hardaway Jr, Dorian Finney-Smith, Dwight Powell, and Kristaps Porzingis in the starting lineup. It isn’t very often these players create for themselves, and most importantly, they are the most efficient when they shoot off of passes. Important bench players like Maxi Kleber, Seth Curry, and even Jalen Brunson were almost entirely assisted when shooting the three-ball.

While Hield doesn’t generate a lot of assists (averaged only 3 last season), he does have the ability to create for himself behind the three-point line, but especially near the basket. Hield was assisted on 79 percent of threes and 39 percent of his two-point field goals.

Compared to the eight players I mentioned above, with the exception of Luka, those numbers would put Hield near the bottom in assisted field goal and assisted three-point field goal percentage. In fact, the only player with a lower assisted field goal percentage is Jalen Brunson… who’s the backup point guard.

When considering rotations, Hield could also stagger minutes along with Doncic and Porzingis so that they can rest and he can play alongside the second unit. He hasn’t shown the ability to be a comfortable second ball-handler with the Kings, but he has increased his assist totals every season. In a motion offense of which the Mavericks have, his assist totals are very likely to increase.

All seems good in theory, however, if the Kings were to trade Hield away, how much would it cost? While Hield has yet to return any of HC Luke Walton‘s calls, the Kings might still try to fix the relationship in the house before things escalate into a legitimate trade.

The salaries of Hield and Hardaway Jr, assuming he accepts his player option, would allow the Mavericks to trade one for one. However, considering the skill level, this isn’t fair. Also, this isn’t fair to Hardaway Jr as he could likely get a bigger deal with another team if he were to reject his player option after what was his best statistical season.

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The deeper we go into the bench the trickier it is to find matching contracts, but also talent the Kings would like. Justin Jackson and guard Delon Wright are expected to be traded at some point during the offseason, but their salaries combined don’t match Hield’s new contract. In order to match salaries and talent, Brunson would likely be the throw-in.

Let me preface this by also mentioning all these trade options would include the Mavericks 2020 first-round draft pick.

The combination of Luka Doncic, Buddy Hield, and Kristaps Porzingis could do so serious damage especially after a year in which the Dallas Mavericks had the best offense of all time. The cost of Hield might be more than what the Mavericks are comfortable giving up, but if a transaction puts a team in a better place to contend for a championship, can one really be that hesitant to pull the trigger?

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  • Published on 10/04/2020 at 12:01 PM
  • Last updated at 10/04/2020 at 07:42 AM