The Dallas Mavericks and their ever-aggressive front office are once again looking to make some noise. They are reportedly preparing to join the potential sweepstakes in the 2021 free agency.
It’s the highly-anticipated chase for Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, the NBA’s two-time reigning Most Valuable Player and reigning Defensive Player of the Year. While no one’s even sure that he will entertain suitors, some teams have long been confident they can lure The Greek Freak out of Milwaukee’s small market.
That, of course, will mean that the Mavs will most likely stay quiet in the upcoming round of signings since they will try to clear as much cap space as they can for 2021.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst touched on the subject during a segment on The Jump:
“The Dallas Mavericks are gonna be at the head of the line in pursuing Giannis. They want to have a 3rd star … They want to keep their books clear for 2021 … I wouldn’t expect them to add any major free agents this year. They’re going to wait.”
The Mavs are a team on the rise. They finished their 2020 campaign with a 43-32 record and made the playoffs for the first time in four years. They looked really good in the postseason too. The young bunch gave the heavily favoured LA Clippers a good wake-up call and pushed them to six games – and it could’ve been more if not for a few tough breaks.
There’s also a new franchise man on the block that you might be familiar with. Luka Doncic, a continuously rising star that’s geared to be a certified household name very soon, could be an attractive pull factor for stars like Giannis to come to Dallas.
How good are the Mavs’ chances?
Regarding cap space, the Mavericks have a lot of work to do. The team payroll for 2020-21 may reach up to $108.2 million if certain player options get picked up. It’s already awfully close to the $109.4m league cap. Giannis will be eligible to sign a supermax contract on free agency, and it is projected to be worth around $254 million over five years ($46m/yr).
Among the expiring contracts after the 2021 season are for Tim Hardaway, Willie Cauley-Stein, Justin Jackson, and Jalen Brunson. Their salaries will slash roughly $28-29 million in the team cap, but it’s hard to tell if the Mavs will gamble and let go all four.
Pitch-wise, we can probably assume that it’s going to be top-tier. Aside from having a chance to play with Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, Dallas is a great city with a big market, head coach Rick Carlisle is one of the most respected guys in the NBA, and team owner Marc Cuban is always ready to pull out all the stops to get what he wants.
Giannis has always been vocal about his love for Milwaukee and the Bucks organization, and actually he said he won’t leave. At the very least, though, I can see him thinking about the possible Big Three he can form with the Mavs. After all, having a scorer/playmaker like Doncic and a stretch big man like Porzingis are two of the best-fitting type of players for his style of play.