Through a turbulent offseason headlined by big-name trade rumblings and a rapid-fire free agency period, someone needs to fall in last place. According to a group of 15 NBA executives, scouts and coaches, that team was the Dallas Mavericks.
In the 2022 NBA Offseason survey conducted by ESPN, experts closest to the game cast their vote on superlatives based on the monthslong period between the playoffs and training camp. They predicted the next MVP, the best player in the league in five years, top events from the offseason, and of course, the best and worst offseasons.
With six votes, the Boston Celtics ran away with the best offseason crown thanks to some key additions via trade and free agency coming off an NBA Finals appearance. The team voted as having the worst offseason claimed the spot by the same vote count.
NBA Insiders say the Dallas Mavericks botched the 2022 NBA offseason.
Doubling up the second-place Charlotte Hornets (three votes) were the Dallas Mavericks with six votes. This may come as a surprise to some since Dallas revamped its roster without sacrificing much of its future flexibility, but one blaring issue costed them: the loss of Jalen Brunson. A former second-round pick who ascended to a second option for the Mavs, Brunson walked away from a lucrative offer in favor of his hometown New York Knicks.
One Western Conference executive was quoted as saying: “They lost him for nothing, then turned around and gave JaVale [McGee] a lot of money and traded for Christian Wood.”
The Dallas Mavericks certainly didn’t win the offseason, but it could’ve been much worse. The aforementioned Hornets didn’t make any serious additions and are expected to lose Miles Bridges and Montrezl Harrell without any return either (Although these issues are out of their hands). Still, the team added quality rotation pieces and picked a more concrete direction around its superstar focal point, Luka Doncic.
Yes, losing Brunson for nothing is a tough pill to swallow, but the worst part is that it doesn’t seem like they tried. ESPN Staff Writer Tim MacMahon, who is tapped in with teams across the Southwest, reported in April 2022 that the Dallas Mavericks did not even reach out to Brunson’s representatives on the four-year, $55.5 million extension he was eligible for last summer. They instead opted to extend Dorian Finney-Smith, a talented defensive specialist and shooter whose upside is capped within his role.
From the outside looking in, it appears like the Mavericks waited too long to engage with their top free agent, losing him for nothing despite making the first public contract offer. It’s worth noting that the Mavericks added an insurance policy at the trade deadline in Spencer Dinwiddie, who is poised to fill the void left by Brunson.
Moving along, it’s fair to question whether McGee and Wood the right choices to fill out this roster. The team survived Rudy Gobert and Deandre Ayton in the Playoffs without traditional centers in the rotation, but adding this tandem created a new dimension to Jason Kidd’s rotation.
A three-year deal worth $20 million makes JaVale McGee the 35th highest-paid center by average annual value, according to Spotrac, so I don’t necessarily agree that adding McGee is as much of a detriment as the aforementioned executive thinks it was. The Dallas Mavericks will need to keep him healthy and engaged as he enters the twilight of his career, but with an ever-extending p, JaVale’s contract is actually a great value for his production.
My biggest issue with the Mavericks’ offseason is that they didn’t do enough to make themselves a true contender in the West. There is only so much Luka can do while the conference grows healthier and more competitive. Minnesota pushed its chips to the center of the table by trading for Gobert, LA anticipates the return of Kawhi and Paul George, Denver made a few sneaky additions while welcoming Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. back, Golden State revamped, New Orleans is primed for a breakout, Phoenix is hungry for revenge and Memphis always fights.
Although I don’t think their transactions outright stunk, the Mavericks lost out on their best trade chip aside from Luka himself and failed to meet the urgency of their competition. That will come back to bite them during the 2023 NBA postseason.