Dallas Mavericks: The Goran Dragic Situation

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports /
dallas mavericks
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Mavericks set out on a mission to improve their roster through free agency. While they missed out on the cream of the crop again, the team signed two solid wing players and were able to turn an out-of-form Josh Richardson into a young, promising center. The team got better as this season, they obtained valuable wing depth without sacrificing offensive firepower.

While the team has made its typical under-the-radar type moves, one potential move continues to dominate rumors: the potential signing of PG Goran Dragic. The 35-year-old was sent to Toronto so the Heat could make room for All-Star PG Kyle Lowry. It has been 12 days since that trade was put into motion, which makes it kind of surprising that a Dragic trade has yet to be finalized. But is it possible the team is playing this situation correctly?

Are the Dallas Mavericks correctly playing the Goran Dragic situation?

As it currently stands, the Slovenian point guard is set to make $19 million this upcoming season. While there was a belief that the Mavericks were working with more cap space this offseason, they seem to have hit the salary cap through the re-signing of Tim Hardaway Jr and other acquisitions of Reggie Bullock and Sterling Brown.

The Bullock acquisition was made through the MLE (mid-level exception), yet even with that designation the Mavs currently have less than $10 million to work with for the rest of free agency. A Dragic signing was going to require trading a player like Dwight Powell or Maxi Kleber in order for contracts to match. The relative value of both these players to the team makes a current trade transaction become increasingly unlikely.

Secondly, bringing on a player of Dragic’s caliber causes a roster reshuffling. The team’s current backup point guard, Jalen Brunson, is entering a contract year. This is as important to him as it is to the team. Giving Dragic more time likely takes away from Brunson or forces him out of his original position. If he can’t produce as well then his price gets cheaper, but it could also force him away from the team if he believes there is a better opportunity to shine somewhere else.

However, it’s still worth noting that after having an incredibly efficient regular season, Brunson started to sputter as the first-round series against the Los Angeles Clippers progressed to game seven. Granted it was his first playoff series, but the team was looking to advance past the first round. Having your backup point guard provide little when the primary playmaker is sitting down is a losing formula.

Enter Goran Dragic. In 29 minutes per game, Dragic averaged 16 points per game these playoffs. It was 13 minutes per game more than Brunson received, but even we adjusted per 36 minutes, Dragic was still scoring more points. While he only averaged 2.8 assists per game, there isn’t currently an argument to be made that Jalen Brunson is a better playmaker than Dragic. (However, he seemingly is a better scorer at their relative career points.)

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When it matters more, Dragic will provide the team a necessary scoring boost and play-making ability to take the ball out of Luka’s hands. While this could potentially lead to fewer minutes for players like Brunson, Tyrell Terry, and Reggie Bullock, is that necessarily a bad thing? Terry has yet to play meaningful minutes in a playoff series and when Reggie Bullock did play in the playoffs, his efficiency was notably worse.

Consistency wins ball games. While Luka Doncic has been remarkably consistent throughout his playoff career thus far, the same cannot be said for the rest of the team whatsoever.

But is this consistency still worth taking on a big contract while potentially losing a big man on a team that continuously has bad luck in the frontcourt? Need I add that Dragic is entering the twilight of his career? Likely not. The Mavericks should absolutely be looking for reasons to sign good players but giving up valuable depth or other assets generally results in a one-sided transaction.

It’s kind of like how the organization traded away Seth Curry for Josh Richardson and Tyler Bey in the name of better defense, and after a season where neither impressed (for different reasons) on either side of the ball, the team doesn’t have anything to show for as neither are on the team. Unsurprisingly, losing good players has a negative impact on the team. Shocker!

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Dragic could be an integral part of a championship team even at his current age, but value should absolutely drive the acquisition of the player. Giving up a member of a relatively thin frontcourt would yield pretty negative consequences considering the star frontcourt player struggles with the injury bug. It’s the sad reality of the situation, but I commend the Mavericks for understanding that their lack of assets shouldn’t force them into making a horrendously bad transaction.