INDIANAPOLIS – Overreacting in the NBA is something that should be avoided at all costs, but is easy to do nonetheless.
One loss (or win) can flick the emotional needle to the red zone.
This is particularly dangerous mere days before the trade deadline.
The Mavericks are in the same boat as a lot of teams in the NBA heading into Thursday’s drop-dead date for making deals. They are looking for bargains.
They have needs. They could use a ballhandler to take some of the wear-and-tear of doing that job off of Luka Doncic.
They could use a 3-and-D small forward. And shooting is always a need.
But there are complicating factors as the shot clock ticks down on the deadline.
First and foremost, there are a slew of teams that still feel they are legitimately in the playoff chase. There’s a chance an at- or below-.500 team will make the playoffs in the Western Conference for the first time since 2016-17, when Portland made it at 41-41.
And in the Eastern Conference, it seems guaranteed that at least two teams with losing records will make the playoffs.
Only six teams – Minnesota, Golden State and Sacramento in the West, and New York, Atlanta and Cleveland in the East – look to be locked into lottery jail.
The rest of the teams are reluctant to raise the white flag on their season. As long as they have hope for the playoffs, they are more hesitant to blow things up and send quality contributors out for future assets.
And it’s not like the Mavericks are flush with future assets. They owe their 2021 and 2023 first-round draft picks to New York for the Kristaps Porzingis deal.
Moreover, the Mavericks, who make a quick, one-game trip to Indiana on Monday night, are closing in on surpassing their win total in any of the last three seasons (33, 24 and 33 wins). Going from 33 wins last season to perhaps 50, which they are on pace for, this season would be a sensational leap.
It does not make them NBA championship material, however. Teams don’t go from the lottery to serious NBA title contention without the addition of Klay Thompson and Steph Curry.
But the Mavericks’ track record suggest that things will happen. They were able to swing major deals for Porzingis and to clear cap space for Harrison Barnes last season. Those deals came together very quickly, Mark Cuban has said.
In 2017-18, they dealt Devin Harris to Denver in a deadline deal that brought in Doug McDermott.
The year before that, it was the Nerlens Noel deal.
And there are names out there that might make sense, according to numerous national reports. Some would be costly, like Minnesota’s Robert Covington, New York’s Marcus Morris or Cleveland’s Kevin Love. Others would have a more reasonable price tag, such as Charlotte’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Brooklyn’s Wilson Chandler or Chicago’s Kris Dunn.
But there are reasons why this year might be less active for the Mavericks. First, they’ve already filled one need by getting Willie Cauley-Stein. Second, they have a very deep team and any trade partner is going to want one or more of their young assets – think Jalen Brunson, Maxi Kleber or Dorian Finney-Smith.
The Mavericks have shown just in the past week that they have the sort of team – even with Luka Doncic injured – that can compete with high-level teams and can overwhelm lesser ones.
If you think there might be some quality additions available on the cheap this summer in free agency, it would be risky to break up what is obviously a well-put-together and rising roster.
Speculation will continue to run rampant. And when it comes to conjecture, the Mavericks are a de facto setting for many analysts.
But when you see a roster without Porzingis and Doncic dominate Atlanta like the Mavericks did on Saturday, it’s easy to be impressed with the present and intrigued with the future.
Just don’t overreact.