The Dallas Mavericks picked up the long, tall and athletic big man they’ve actively coveted on Saturday when they acquired center Moses Brown for shooting guard Josh Richardson in a trade with the Boston Celtics.
As part of the deal, the Mavs also created a $10.9 million trade exception.
The shrewd move also enabled the Mavs to get from under the salary of Richardson, who has a player option for the 2021-22 season for $11.6 million. By contrast, Brown will earn $1.7 million next season, $1.846 million during the 22-23 season, and has a team option that pays him $1.997 million during the 23-24 season.
The trade was the first for Nico Harrison, who is in his first month as the Mavs’ new general manager and president of basketball operations. It also fills a void in the middle of the lineup that the Mavs desperately needed.
Just 21 years old, Brown never actually played a game for the Celtics, who acquired him and Al Horford from Oklahoma City on June 18 in a deal that shipped Kemba Walker to the Thunder. The lanky 7-2, 245-pound center averaged 8.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in just 21.4 minutes while playing 43 games for OKC this past season.
Also, the third-year veteran literally jumped on the proverbial NBA map on March 27 when he collected 21 points on 8-of-10 shots and a career-high 23 rebounds in a game against the Celtics. That includes scoring 17 points and grabbing 19 rebounds – in the first half of that game.
The last person to produce at least 17 points and 19 rebounds in the first half of a game was Shaquille O’Neal in 1998. And the 19 first-half boards by Brown were the most by any player in any half this past season.
Brown holds career averages of 7.3 points and 7.6 rebounds in only 18.3 minutes, while shooting 54 percent from the field in 52 games with the Portland Trail Blazers and Thunder. He also had a direct association with the Mavs prior to Saturday.
Asked earlier what kind of identity he and new coach Jason Kidd is looking to build, Harrison said: “We’re going to take on the identity of our coach. Jason has a philosophy that he wants to play faster than they did in the past. He also wants to play better defense.
“So we’re going to look for those characteristics. And then again, you have a big time point guard (in Luka Doncic), so you just surround a team that can play with him.”
For sure, the Mavs believe Brown is a player who can play with, grow with and thrive with Doncic. That’s why they worked tirelessly to make Saturday’s move come to fruition.
After playing just one season of college basketball for UCLA during the 2018-’19 campaign, Brown went undrafted in 2019 and eventually signed a two-way contract with Portland on Oct. 17, 2019. He played nine games with the Blazers during the ’19-’20 campaign, and also played 30 games for the Mavs’ G League affiliate – the Texas Legends – that season.
On Dec. 8, 2020, Brown inked a two-way contract with the Thunder en route to collecting all-NBA G League first team and NBA G League all-defensive team accolades in the bubble for the OKC Blue. Plus, the day following his massive 21-point, 23-rebound performance against Boston, the Thunder signed Brown to a multi-year contract.
Meanwhile, in his only season with the Mavs this past year, Richardson averaged 12.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 30.3 minutes.
Because of Saturday’s trade, the Mavs could have as much as $33 million in cap space. Also, Sunday is the deadline for the Mavs to decided whether they’re going to pick up the $4.1 million team option on the contract of center Willie Cauley-Stein.
Sunday also is the day for the Mavs to decide whether to pick up the $1.8 million team option on Jalen Brunson’s contract, or whether to sign him to a contract extension.