After failing to make the NBA playoffs or the play in tournament last season, the Dallas Mavericks entered the off-season with a lot to prove. They had to dramatically improve their roster in order to keep their superstar Luka Doncic happy, and thus far they’ve done a great job. Still, it appears that they are looking to further upgrade their roster.
One outside-the-box idea involves the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets have been on a roller coaster for the past few seasons. In 2019, they were on the rise after acquiring Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and then they added star James Harden. However, Harden later demanded a trade, and the Nets received former number-one overall pick Ben Simmons in return. Simmons has failed to live up to expectations, raising the possibility that the Nets will move him if given the opportunity.
NBA Trades: This Dallas-Brooklyn swap would be a wildcard for the Mavs.
Acquiring Ben Simmons would be a highly questionable move for Dallas, to be sure, but perhaps not as crazy as it might sound. Simmons has been a tire fire since the 2021 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against the Atlanta Hawks, where he imploded, but he might thrive in Dallas.
He is still a talented playmaker, defender, and rebounder, and former NBA star turned coach Jason Kidd might be better equipped than most to figure out how to utilize a player like him. After all, Kidd was also a jumbo-sized point guard with similar strengths. Then again, Kidd has a questionable record as a coach, and Simmons was previously coached by another NBA great, Steve Nash, but with little production to show for it.
Even if the Simmons experiment doesn’t work out, Dallas would still receive two firsts to take back his nearly $80 million deal. He would also turn into a massive expiring contract after next season, and they could use his deal and those picks to try and acquire a true third star to pair with Doncic and Irving.
That might seem like a risky path to a third star, but the Mavericks’ draft picks have been depleted by the Kristaps Porzingis trade (with New York) and the Irving trade, also with the Nets. While they might have the contracts needed to match salaries, they don’t have the assets. Offering to take Simmons off Brooklyn’s hands would be a gamble that could work out if he figures out how to be a good basketball player again.
If so, then Dallas would have both him as a key contributor and the two first-round picks needed to make additional moves. Or his $40.3 million expiring contract after next season would allow them to match salaries with any potential star that becomes available, and they could have enough assets to do so.
For the Nets, getting off of Simmons’ contract is likely a priority since he is paid like a max player but is most definitely not one. That limits their ability to move on from their Big Three era, which ranks as one of the biggest failed experiments in NBA history.
Acquiring Hardaway Jr., Holmes, and McGee and giving up multiple firsts to move off of Simmons might not look like a good option. But even if they don’t trade him to Dallas, they would likely have to make a similar deal to shed his $80 million contract. At least with this theoretical Mavericks deal, they would have at least two rotation players and would save $11.4 million for the 2024–25 season.
Ultimately, given how potentially volatile the situation is in Dallas, the Mavericks may not want to add more pressure by bringing in such a big question mark. However, if their situation changes or Simmons plays well to start next season, then this potential trade might become more likely.