With the NBA in the doldrums of its annual dead period, it’s time to take a look at the Dallas Mavericks offseason and assign the organization’s grades.
What initially started as a quiet offseason quickly turned eventful as Dallas parted ways with former general manager Donnie Nelson and former head coach Rick Carlisle.
After a relatively quick coaching and general manager search, the Mavericks landed Jason Kidd as a coach and Nico Harrison as the gm. From there, the reconstructed front office made moves centered around finding versatility and defense to play alongside Luka Dončić.
And with NBA training camp sitting at less than a full month away, it’s time to grade each major move made by the organization this summer thus far.
Hiring Jason Kidd: C+
Bringing in Kidd was one of the biggest shocks of this NBA offseason. As a coach, Kidd possesses a losing record. And upon the formal announcement as the Mavericks’ next head coach, many played up his experience coaching Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee. However, what was often omitted was Milwaukee’s seemingly overnight improvement once Kidd was fired.
Kidd’s Bucks teams often leaked open 3-point attempts and struggled with consistency. And once he was fired and replaced by Mike Budenholzer, the Bucks found another level that they just couldn’t reach with Kidd as the main voice in the locker room.
In his single season as the Brooklyn Nets head coach, he often clashed with locker room veterans. He struggled to get the most out of the talent on the roster. And on his way, he was tied up in a power struggle with the organization.
Now, Dallas brings in Kidd with the hope that he is the coach that will lead the team to a championship. It’s a possibility. But it’s also far from certain. And with Kidd’s limited success as a head coach elsewhere, there is no reason to trust that his coaching philosophy is drastically different now. Kidd may have been an interesting PR move, but only time will tell if it’s the right decision regarding coaching.
Hiring Nico Harrison: A-
For everything the Kidd hire lacked, the Harrison hire made up for. With Harrison, the need for a fresh voice in the front office is abated. And as a former Nike executive, he has the connections throughout the league that can make Dallas a preeminent free-agent destination.
The Mavericks didn’t see the spoils of what Harrison may be able to leverage as the general manager and president of basketball operations this summer, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be substantial improvements with the roster going forward.
It’s easy to see that with Harrison, there is a clear will – and want – to get better. And the fruits of his labor will prove that he was worth the hire. Complacency is Dallas’ enemy, Harrison is keenly aware of that.
Signing Luka Dončić to an extension: A+
This is straightforward: Dončić is going to be one of the best players in the NBA for the next decade and more. Signing him to a five-year supermax rookie extension offers the Mavericks time to build a sustainable winner. Meanwhile, it also indicates to the organization Dončić’s level of commitment to Dallas’ long-term plan moving forward.
Re-signing Tim Hardaway Jr.: A-
Hardaway was the Mavericks’ primary concern entering free agency. And the Mavericks re-signed him just minutes into the free-agent window opening up.
Hardaway took a four-year $75 million contract to stay in Dallas. It is believed there was more money on the open market, but he wanted to stay and finish what he started when he was traded from New York.
This decision to stay bodes well for Dallas because of how effective Hardaway was in the final months of the 2020-21 NBA regular season. Assuming that under Kidd, Hardaway finds a similar role, his chemistry with Dončić will only improve.
Hardaway is who is he as a player at this point in his career, but if he’s averaging 16 points per game while shooting 39 percent from the 3-point line, he’s someone that can only help Dallas.
Signing Reggie Bullock: B
Signing Bullock doesn’t make Dallas contenders immediately, but he is a symbol of the type of players the organization needs to surround Dončić with.
Bullock is a versatile, switchable and effective wing that can shoot at a high rate. And within the offense, he’s poised to play a similar role to Seth Curry, except Bullock is a better defender.
Throughout the 2020-21 season, Dallas lacked enough shot makers outside of Dončić. With Josh Richardson being sent to Boston, Bullock has a ready waiting role for him on the floor.
Trading for Moses Brown: B+
In need of a rebounder, Dallas traded Richardson for Moses Brown in the middle of the offseason.
I already wrote about Brown, so I won’t spend too much time on him. He is a 7-foot-2 center who can utilize his mobility to defend the paint at an above-average level. Dallas will only ask him to be a rebounder and lob threat, playing up to his already established skills.
Expect him to be a feature part of the future iteration of the Mavs. And if he keeps improving at the rate he has, he may prove to be one of the best offseason moves the Mavericks have made since drafting Dončić.
Signing Sterling Brown: B-
Sterling Brown enjoyed a breakout season in Houston, but in Dallas, he’ll be asked to hit threes and defend. Both of which are things he is good at.
This move again represents the Mavericks wanting to surround Dončić with defenders and shooters at every position. There is no reason to expect Brown to average double-figures scoring this season, but he adds depth to a team sorely needing it.
Re-signing Boban Marjanovic: B+
Marjanovic’s return to Dallas was both expected and understood. He may serve as a gadget player: good for certain matchups over the course of a season. However, he is a known locker room contributor. He’s loved by everyone within the organization. For that reason alone, Marjanovic is an asset to Dallas.
Yet, on the hardwood against the Los Angeles Clippers, he proved valuable. With Dallas struggling to defend and score against the Clippers in the NBA Playoffs, Marjanovic provided a spark that lent him to playing big minutes in three games in the series. Dallas may have lost the series, but he displayed his value outside of just inter-personal relationships.
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Feature image via Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports.