Dallas Mavericks fans are used to rooting against Kawhi Leonard, but that might change.
The Mavericks are expected to make a serious push at acquiring the superstar forward, as he is set to enter unrestricted free agency this summer, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer.
Dallas is considered, by some league executives, to be the most serious threat to land Leonard because of what Luka Doncic brings to the table, according to O’Connor.
What also aids the Mavs in the pursuit of Leonard is the relationship he has with Dallas’ general manager Nico Harrison. During Leonard’s years at Nike, the two built a strong relationship that may come into play during free agency.
If Leonard exercises his player option and becomes a free agent this summer, all bets are off. His camp is known for its secrecy, but there is no denying the allurement in playing with a 22-year-old superstar whose playoff numbers rival all-time greats.
How Leonard and Doncic fit together:
If Leonard does pursue playing in Dallas, the fit with Doncic creates a one-two punch on par with any superstar pairing in the league.
With Leonard within the offense, Doncic wouldn’t dominate the ball as much as he has in the previous three seasons. This would lead to less gaudy statistical seasons for Doncic but more efficient production from both players within the offense.
Also, the presence of Leonard – a two-time Defensive Player of the Year – brings a necessary defense-first culture to Dallas. In Doncic’s three seasons in Dallas, the Mavericks defense hasn’t neared elite production. With Leonard’s defensive leadership, that has an opportunity to change. He may not be the transcendent on-ball defender he was when he was younger, but he still commands respect and can turn it on at any moment on the defensive side of the floor.
What to expect:
Whether Leonard is seriously considering Dallas is unknown. Rumors don’t leak out of his camp. However, one can already imagine the fear a lineup featuring both Doncic and Leonard would instill amongst other teams in the league.
With a new regime, expect Dallas to be more active in free agency. Harrison’s relationships change things. With a sales pitch starting with Doncic, expect the Mavericks to make a run at bringing a big name to town.
Feature image via Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports.