In this episode of Dallas Hoops Fancast, Sydney talks to Sixers reporter Jason Blevins from The Painted Lines about Josh Richardson. How will he help the Mavericks on offense and defense? What are his strengths and weaknesses and what is his ideal role? Jason shares some insight on what exactly we can expect from Richardson.
We then share our thoughts on what the Mavs will get out of new additions Josh Richardson and James Johnson. Eventually it all crumbles in to a rant, as it usually does. Enjoy!
1:24-18:18 Interview with Jason Blevins about Josh Richardson
18:18-24:47 How Josh Richardson will help the Mavs’ offense and defense
Tim Hardaway Jr opted into the final year of his contract with the Dallas Mavericks. That means that going into 2020 Free Agency, they have only their mid-level exception (worth about $9 million) to work with. However, there’s always the option to do a sign-and-trade.
Here are five free agents the Mavericks should target for a sign-and-trade acquisition.
1. Bogdan Bogdanovic
The deal to send Bogdan Bogdanovic to the Milwaukee Bucks is officially off, according to Shams Charania. That means he’s now a restricted free agent. He will probably want a deal in the $15-18 million range. For that price, you’re getting a 27-year-old 6’6 shooting guard who’s a versatile scorer and willing passer.
Last season, he averaged 15 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game, and made over 37% of his 3-point attempts. He’s used to playing off the ball, with De’Aaron Fox running the show in Sacramento. He’s an efficient catch-shoot scorer, but can also make plays with the ball for himself and others.
At his age and with his skills, which are still developing, he’s a perfect fit with the Mavericks.
2. Danilo Gallinari
The Mavericks have long been linked to Danillo Gallinari. He’s a veteran player with experience in big moments. He’s also an efficient scorer and playmaker that would take the Mavericks’ already historic offense to another planet. He made over 40 percent of his 3-point shots last season and led the league in Offensive Rating (tied with Kawhi Leonard).
True, he wouldn’t help the Mavericks defensively, but their recent addition of Josh Richardson makes this less of a concern for me. Richardson will likely guard perimeter players, and Kristaps protected the paint well last season. The Mavericks can always sub in Dorian Finney-Smith if they need help with a particular matchup.
But honestly, their offense would be so incredibly good, I don’t think they would need a top five defense to make a deep run in the Playoffs.
3. Gordon Hayward
Gordon Hayward opted out of the final year of his contract. He passed up a guaranteed $34 million, so he like wants a contract similar to that – and thinks he can get it.
The Mavericks could use a guy with Hayward’s skillset for the same reasons I went over when talking about DeMar DeRozan in Part 1 of this series. They need someone who can balance out the offense and create his own shot.
Beyond Hayward’s ability to score over 20 points per game every night, his versatility as a scorer would make the Mavericks dangerous. He’s a good 3-point shooter (he made over 38% of his 3-point shots in 2020) and he’s an efficient scorer. He’s also a better rebounder than Tim Hardaway Jr. and can make plays for others.
4. Joe Harris
Joe Harris is known for being a long-range sniper. It’s true, he’s a deadly 3-point shooter (he made 47.4% of his 3-point attempts in 2019), but his skillset goes beyond that. Harris has the ability to make plays with the ball by curling around screens and driving to the basket. His size helps him finish through contact, and he uses his body effectively in those situations.
You could say he’s a poor man’s Klay Thompson. Klay Thompson is obviously better at what he does, but their games are similar – long-range shots, pull-up jumpers off of screens and around picks, and drives to the basket when there’s space.
The numbers show that he’s not a bad defender either. In fact, in 2020 he had a better Defensive Rating and Defensive Box Plus/Minus than Tim Hardaway Jr. Obviously, Hardaway isn’t a stone wall on the perimeter, but the point is that you’re not losing any skill there. If anything, you’re gaining a little.
5. Jerami Grant
Jerami Grant is the guy many Mavs fans want the team to sign. Heck, he’s the guy most fans want their team to sign. He’s a 3&D player that contributed valuable minutes to a Denver Nuggets team that beat the Los Angeles Clippers in the Playoffs. The Mavericks have some work to do with their perimeter defense, which makes Jerami Grant a tantalizing free agent.
The problem with Grant is that he’s a lot like a player the Mavericks already have – Dorian Finney-Smith. It doesn’t make sense to have both of them. Grant is better than Dorian in some ways, but not by very much. Dorian actually had a higher Offensive Rating than Grant in 2020, and their Defensive Rating was almost identical. Dorian is also a better rebounder and outperformed Jerami Grant in the Playoffs in almost every aspect of the game. Not to mention the fact that he’s much cheaper.
6. Serge Ibaka
Mavericks fans are well-acquainted with Serge Ibaka and the havoc he can wreak as a rim protector. We saw it first-hand during his years with the Oklahoma City Thunder. But you can also rely on him on offense for elbow jumpers, 3-pointers, and finishes at the rim. He’s a versatile player that fits in with the Mavericks’ offense and defense.
Kristaps did an amazing job protecting the rim this season, but with his injury history, the Mavericks might want to keep him out of the paint. Either way, having two rim protectors is better than one. And Ibaka won’t mess up their spacing since he can hit pull-up jumpers, set sturdy picks, and roll to the rim for dunks.
At 30 years old, he’s coming off one of the best seasons of his career in terms of scoring and rebounding. The price might be too high for what the Mavs want to invest in a big man, and they might want to roll with Dwight Powell as a starter. If they’re looking for an upgrade, Ibaka is a great fit for them.
It’s hard to predict exactly what the Mavericks will do when Free Agency opens. They’ve been linked to a few players, but rumors are scarce. However, any one of these players would make the Mavericks a dangerous team in 2021.
Imagine Charles Barkley and John Stockton in a Dallas Mavericks uniform. Sound impossible? Well, the Mavericks actually had a chance to draft both players together in 1984. Obviously, they chose not to.
With the NBA Draft upon us, I decided to have some fun and look at the Dallas Mavericks’ entire draft history as a franchise. Hindsight is 20/20, so it’s interesting to see where mistakes were made and how different things could have been.
Here are the eight worst draft night decisions made by the Dallas Mavericks.
8. 1981 Draft – #1 Pick, Mark Aguirre Over Isiah Thomas
Drafting Mark Aguirre is by no means what you would call a “mistake”. He averaged over 24 points per game as a Maverick and was part of some of the greatest teams in franchise history.
That’s a 12-time All-Star versus a 3-time All-Star. A 5-time All-NBA player versus one with no All-NBA appearances. And that’s not even mentioning Thomas’ championships and Finals MVP award.
It’s hard to say if Isiah Thomas would have had the same impact for the Mavericks that he did with his Pistons teams, but it’s a tantalizing fantasy.
7. 2011 Draft – #26 Pick, Jordan Hamilton Over Jimmy Butler
The Mavericks were riding high in 2011. After winning the franchise’s first championship, the draft was the last thing on fans’ minds.
When the Mavs got the 26th pick, we were all like, “Yay! We just won a ring!” When they drafted Jordan Hamilton, we were like, “Yay! We just won a ring!” When they traded him for Rudy Fernandez, who never played a game for the Mavs, we were like, “Yay! We just won a ring!”
When the Chicago Bulls picked Jimmy Butler just four picks later, maybe we should have paid attention.
It’s tough to fault a team for not seeing a diamond in the rough at the end of the first round, but it still hurts, nonetheless.
This draft wasn’t a complete flop for the Mavericks. They drafted Derek Harper with the 11th pick, so they hit a home run there. However, their ninth pick, Dale Ellis, didn’t do much for the Mavericks. What hurts is that they could have drafted Clyde Drexler, who eventually went 14th.
Imagine a backcourt of Clyde Drexler and Derek Harper. They would probably have some deep Playoff runs, and maybe even make a run at an NBA title. Dale Ellis, on the other hand, played three seasons with the Mavericks and averaged 8 points per game. This was definitely a missed opportunity.
5. 1985 Draft – #8 Pick, Detlef Schrempf Over Karl Malone; #17 Pick, Uwe Blab Over Joe Dumars
Don’t get me wrong, Detlef Schrempf had a great career (though nowhere near the kind of career Karl Malone had), but his time with the Mavericks wasn’t spectacular. He played four seasons for the Mavs and averaged eight points a game.
On top of that miss, the Mavericks made another mistake. With the 17th pick, they chose to draft Uwe Blab over Joe Dumars, who was the very next pick. Joe Dumars had a Hall of Fame career, became a 2-time NBA Champion and a Finals MVP. Uwe Blab lasted five seasons in the league and averaged two points and two rebounds per game.
4. 1996 Draft – #9 Pick, Samaki Walker Over Kobe Bryant, Peja Stojakovic, or Steve Nash
Most of these lists include just one alternative that would have landed a franchise player. In those cases, you win some, you lose some. But in 1996, the Mavericks had several options. With the ninth pick, they could have chosen Kobe Bryant, who went 13th, Peja Stojakovic, who went 14th, or Steve Nash, who went 15th.
I guess all is well that ends well since the Mavs eventually got Nash and Peja, and won a Championship with Peja, but obviously that first name, Kobe Bryant, hurts.
3. 1986 Draft – #25 Pick, Mark Price (Traded)
This one really hurts because they actually drafted the guy! With the 25th pick, the Mavericks drafted Mark Price, a future All-Star and All-NBA point guard. They had him right in their hands, but then they traded him to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
What did they get back?
A 1989 second-round draft pick, which they used to draft Jeff Hodge, who never played an NBA game.
Mark Price went on to average 15+ points and 6+ assists for the Cavaliers, who became an Eastern Conference powerhouse with Price.
2. 1984 Draft – #4 Pick, Sam Perkins Over Charles Barkley; #15 Pick, Terence Stansbury Over John Stockton
This was a one-two punch in the gut. The Mavericks were so close to changing the franchise forever, but they just barely whiffed on the opportunity. They had picks four and fifteen in the 1984 draft and chose Sam Perkins and Terence Stansbury. Charles Barkley and John Stockton went fifth and 16th, both one pick after the Mavericks’.
At the time, the Mavericks already had a core of Mark Aguirre and Rolando Blackman, plus a young Derek Harper. Imagine adding Charles Barkley and John Stockton to that team. Sheesh.
1. 2013 Draft – #13 Pick, Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo Over Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rudy Gobert, Tim Hardaway Jr, or Others
Here’s what happened in 2013: The Mavericks drafted Kelly Olynyk with the 13th pick, immediately traded him to Boston for the 16th pick, then traded that for the 18th pick. They drafted Shane Larkin and traded another second-round pick for Ricky Ledo.
Here are all the players who were available at these picks:
All of those players were available, and the Mavs left with Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo. They could have drafted almost anyone else besides Shane Larkin, and they probably would have gotten a great player, if not an MVP or Defensive Player of the Year. That player would have joined a Playoff team with Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis.
If you could go back and redo one of these mistakes, which one would it be?
Honestly, I was surprised I couldn’t find more draft mistakes while making this list. The Mavericks have a pretty impressive draft record, but everyone makes mistakes. Thankfully, they didn’t make a mistake when Dirk Nowitzki and Luka Doncic were available.
But Kristaps made a great recovery from his torn ACL. Based on historical data, I predicted he would average 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game on 42 FG% and 35 3PT%. His actual season averages were 20.4 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 2 blocks on 43% FG% and 35%.
The season was not without a few bumps and bruises though. In the end, he tore his meniscus. That’s definitely not as serious as a torn ACL, but it’s a knee injury nonetheless.
After another knee injury, some questions start coming back up. Should the Mavericks be concerned about Kristaps’ injury history? Is there something wrong with his body?
Kristaps’ Injury History
Take a look at the injuries Kristaps dealt with in his 3-year career with the Knicks.
October 2015 – Tweaked Left IT Band (Games Missed: 0 – Before Season Start)
October 2015 – Left Quad Strain (Games Missed: 0 – Before Season Start)
March 2016 – Right Shoulder Strain (Games Missed: 7)
January 2017 – Sore Left Achilles (Games Missed: 4)
November 2017 – Sprained Left Ankle (Games Missed: 1)
November 2017 – Lower Back Tightness (Games Missed: 1)
November 2017 – Sore Left Ankle (Games Missed: 2)
December 2017 – Sore Left Knee (Games Missed: 2)
January 2018 – Left Knee Irritation (Games Missed: 1)
February 2018 – Torn ACL in Left Knee (Games Missed: 116)
As Mavs fans, we’d like to think all of that is behind him, but here’s a list of injuries (minor as they may be) he’s dealt with in just one season with the Mavericks.
January 2020 – Right Knee Soreness (Games Missed: 10)
August 2020 – Left Heel Contusion (Games Missed: 1)
August 2020 – Torn Meniscus in Right Knee (Games Missed: 3)
It’s not unreasonable to acknowledge the fact that the same knee that bothered him enough to get a PRP injection in January is the same knee that suffered a torn meniscus in August.
Is Kristaps “Injury-Prone”?
So, is there a problem? Are these just fluke injuries? What’s going on with his body?
There’s the theory that taller players are more injury-prone. According to research by fivethirtyeight.com, lottery picks drafted since 2000 who were 7’ or taller missed 23.5% of their potential NBA games because of injury over the course of their career.
Players who were 6’8 or shorter missed only 13.5% of their potential games.
Jeff Stotts, a certified Athletic Trainer and owner of InStreetClothes.com, said this about Kristaps’ string of injuries:
“It would be irresponsible to ignore the fact that he’s had a left quad injury, a left hip injury, a left IT band injury, all these things in the left. Maybe there is something going on with that left kinetic chain…You got to make sure that these seemingly minor things aren’t all connected and result in something major.”
Stotts made that comment to Bleacher Report in February 2016, two years before Kristaps tore his ACL in, you guessed it, his left knee.
I also talked to Dr. Rajpal Brar, a physical therapist and owner of 3CB Performance, a performance and sports therapy clinic. When I asked if he would classify Kristaps as “injury-prone”, he said:
“Many of his injuries and nicks have been of the non-contact variety so I would lean toward injury prone’.” However, that’s not the final word. Dr. Brar pointed out:
“On the outside looking in, we don’t have enough information to know what’s truly causing the injuries. [Are there] underlying issues? Is it something to do with his movement mechanics, is he anatomically more prone to have certain injuries, is it due to inherent risk after a previous injury?
That last point is what could spell trouble for Kristaps. Whether or not he was injury-prone before his torn ACL, that injury could have lingering affects on his body. Although some players have successfully recovered from a torn ACL, some players were never the same again.
“We know injury risk increases across the entire board for the rest of the lower body following an ACL rupture, and further research shows it can take up to two years to regain full confidence in the knee and have true side-to-side symmetry.”
Kristaps is far from a finished product. In a review of 48 studies evaluating 5,770 athletes, only 63% had returned to their pre-injury level of performance after an average of almost 3.5 years of recovery from a torn ACL.
Should Kristaps Change the Way He Plays?
This question comes up a lot, and it makes sense. If these injuries are happening while playing basketball, maybe he should play basketball differently to avoid those injuries. Here’s what Raj said:
“If there are mechanical issues at play that can’t be fixed such as when he’s rolling to the rim or jumping to crash the boards, then you adjust [his style]. What I’d look at first are plays where he’s taking a lot of punishment or wear over the course of the game like post-ups and take that out.”
It makes sense. Those “high-risk situations”, as Dr. Brar called them, involve a lot of contact, require more physical exertion, and put Kristaps in a crowd of people.
By keeping Porzingis out of the crowd and using his skills as a shooter, the Mavericks capitalize on his unique versatility and lower the risk of injury.
There’s also the idea that putting on muscle would solve the problem, but that’s a two-edged sword. Extra weight means extra force that’s being exerted on your joints, and that’s multiplied when running and jumping.
Mavericks fans remember what happened to Chandler Parsons. After putting on 20 pounds of muscle in one summer, Parsons had severe knee issues that pretty much ended his career.
It’s not as simple as getting stronger. The Mavericks will need to continually manage any problem areas, look at ways of improving his mechanics (if they see issues), and utilize his skills in ways that don’t put him in high-risk situations.
Should the Mavericks be Concerned?
As mentioned at the outset, Kristaps’ latest injury is not serious. Dr. Brar explained in a recent video breakdown that the fact that Kristaps’ meniscus tear is eligible for repair is a good sign for the future. The alternative would be to remove a portion of the meniscus, and that’s something you want to avoid at all costs, especially with the lateral meniscus. Dr. Brar explains: “That meniscus takes on more stress and wear due to a couple biomechanical properties. Being able to repair and keep that lateral meniscus completely intact is even more important for KP’s long-term health and fitness.”
However, Raj made an interesting point about what it will take to keep Kristaps healthy:
“Generally, they may want to limit his high risk situations, but that’s always a tough call because there’s so much inherent risk in the game, especially for a superstar player who is going to be in crowds regularly.”
Kristaps is a star. He’s going to have the ball a lot. He’s going to be involved in the offense. If they have to limit how many games he plays and what situations he’s in on the floor, does that impact his effectiveness as a go-to option behind Luka Doncic? Availability is just as important as ability.
I think that’s the real question. It’s not just about keeping him healthy. It’s about whether or not you can rely on him even when he’s on the court. If he’s limited in availability, playing time, and in-game impact, can he still be what the Mavericks need him to be or should they try to bring in a third star to offset his limitations?
As Dr. Raj brought out, there’s a lot we don’t know as outsiders. Many of these questions will be answered next season. The Mavericks’ training staff has earned our trust with whatever program they implement for Kristaps, whether it includes load management or not.
The Mavericks could use more depth anyway. If bringing in more players makes the team better and lets Kristaps manage his playing time and style, I call that a win-win. And hopefully that leads to real wins.
 Ardern, C. L., Webster, K. E., Taylor, N. F., Feller, J. A. (2011). Return to sport following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the state of play. British journal of sports medicine, 45(7), 596–606. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsm.2010.076364