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.