With the playoffs over and the Milwaukee Bucks having raised the championship trophy for the first time in 50 years, the real season can now begin.
It’s roster-building season.
Since the Mavericks don’t have a pick in next week’s NBA draft – at least, as things stand now – they are looking at three ways to improve the roster.
Trades, free agency and by signing undrafted rookies.
Don’t disregard that last category. The Mavericks in the past had big successes from undrafted free-agents, including J.J. Barea and Dorian Finney-Smith.
But that talent typically takes time to develop. And as we all know, owner Mark Cuban never deviates from win-now mode.
Which leaves the free-agent class and potential trades as the routes to immediate help.
Trades are difficult to predict. The Mavericks will no doubt be involved in conjecture. But until they happen, there’s no way of knowing for sure what cards they are willing to play on the table.
Free agency is different. Every NBA fan knows who the free agents are this summer.
So what’s the strategy?
“Honestly, we have everything on the board,” general manager Nico Harrison said recently. “We’re looking at our own players that could be free agents and other free agents and putting everything on the board and analyzing what’s going to be the best situation for us.”
The draft is July 29 and while much can happen in the week that remains until then, free agency could be more exciting for Mavericks’ fans.
Teams can begin official negotiations on Aug. 2 and signings can start on Aug. 6 at 11 a.m., Dallas time.
Tim Hardaway Jr. is one of the most intriguing free agents on the board. The Mavericks are hopeful they can keep him, of course. But there is plenty of competition for one of the best 3-point shooters in the game.
The question, as it always is, becomes how much do the Mavericks or anybody else feel is fair value to pay Hardaway. Knowing the market will be critical for Harrison and owner Mark Cuban.
Hardaway was one of the Mavericks most valuable members. He freely came off the bench or started, whichever was needed. And his shot was as dependable as anybody’s on the roster.
Beyond Hardaway, and with J.J. Redick unlikely to return and Nico Melli already signed to play in Europe next season, the only other veteran free agent that the Mavericks must make a decision on is Boban Marjanović.
Hardaway finished up a four-year, $71-million contract last season. Marjanović played out the two-year, $7-million deal he signed in 2019.
When free agency begins, the Mavericks could have as much as $21-million to spend under the cap – expected to be about $112-million.
That sounds like a lot, but it won’t go as far as everybody would like. And re-signing their own free agents could shrink the available funds, depending on how and when things happen.
The only sure things are that there will be a ton of rumors, a mountain of speculation and a lot of fun in the next couple weeks for fans of the real NBA season.