From time to time, and more so during non-game months, we try to take our staff’s temperature on whatever topic of the day. If you’ve been visiting our site in the last week, it’s pretty simple: free agency! Some Jalen Brunson (a lot of Jalen Brunson), the new (old?) Maverick JaVale McGee and more.
where are you with respect to Dallas Mavericks and free agency?
Matthew: Not surprised. The Mavericks have consistently had one of the lowest payrolls in the league over the last six years. They had one of the 5 most successful seasons in franchise history and then they let the second best player on the team walk away with nothing. Then they overpaid JaVale McGee, who will be a very useful player this season. The Mavericks have consistently had low overall payrolls while overpaying low-level role players. If they’re going to have the incredibly tight payroll restrictions that they’re clearly operating under, they need to get smarter about the details of these contracts.
good: The Mavericks, as usual, haven’t done well in free agency. There’s still time to do something to recover from losing Jalen Brunson, but the Mavericks have made a variation on an old strategy: “let the good players walk for nothing and overpay for the players on the bench.” It’s discouraging.
Mate: Concerned: Unless another move is made, Dallas doesn’t appear to be addressing their needs. After the rise of Jalen Brunson and the addition of Spencer Dinwiddie demonstrated how more playmakers and ball handlers could unlock Dallas’ full potential as a 5-out nightmare, they lost Brunson, the player most crucial to that style of play and they replaced it with a traditional overpaid center. . I remain optimistic about adding Christian Wood, but after going through teams with Gobert, Ayton and McGee, using our full contributor MLE on a big one feels wrong.
Church: Concerned. Right now, in any free agency over the past decade, I’d be cooking the Mavericks like they were fried chicken. But there has to be something Jalen Brunson left for; I’m sure they didn’t offer me enough money for part, but he seemed to want to play in New York. At that point, it becomes less about free agency and more about how no one in Dallas anticipated that. There has to be something in the works because JaVale McGee is a good addition to a rotation, but it’s not enough for real progress. And he watches the rest of the NBA. West teams are getting competitive in new and different ways, while the Mavericks are taking a step back right now. That sucks.
Jordan: I guess to begin with, sad. I was a huge fan of Jalen Brunson, on and off the court. Numbers aren’t worth arguing about now, but that put me off. Outside of that, I’m trying to focus on the addition of Christian Wood, rather than the JaVale McGee contract. Wood could be a lot of fun with Luka Doncic, Reggie Bullock and Dorian Finney-Smith.
Still, it’s hard to characterize the offseason as a success so far. Owner Mark Cuban remains remarkably cheap, and for every good move the front office makes, there’s a head scratcher to follow. Which makes me foolishly believe that another move is on the horizon.
Tim: After the first day of free agency I went to bed discouraged. Although we all knew that Jalen Brunson would sign with the Knicks about 3 days before the free agency start date, it was a bummer when it happened. Landing JaVale McGee fills a Mavericks need that GM Nico Harrison was vocal about in exit interviews, but he doesn’t move the needle much for me. He’ll be good and he’s a better big than Dwight Powell, but the Mavericks better have a few moves up their sleeve to improve the roster through trades. We don’t seem to like free agency.
David: Feeling a sense of Deja Vu. Every year, hopes are high and production is low in the Mavericks’ front office for free agency. This year is no different so far. Do I think Tim Hardaway and Spencer Dinwiddie can replace Brunson’s production? Yes. Am I still upset that we didn’t extend it? Also if. Dallas hasn’t gotten any worse after the addition of Christian Wood, but I’d like to see them make some moves to get better for once.
Joseph: This period of free agency was always going to be quiet and unassuming. A limited Mavericks team only had so many options to fill the handful of spots on the roster. But Brunson sours almost anything the Mavericks could do. They lost the second-best player on their Western Conference Finals team for nothing, and regardless of blame, that just sucks, flat out. The Mavericks are limited for two more seasons regardless, so retaining Brunson was critical.
Javale McGee’s contract is so completely bizarre that I’m not surprised it caused some Mavs fans to jump into the background. Dallas entered free agency probably needing a cheap backup to fill out its rotation, but signing a three-year deal with a 34-year-old journeyman center is rare. It’s the second biggest contract of McGee’s career! McGee helps out in a vacuum, but the move alone doesn’t make sense unless the Mavericks do something else. And that’s the problem, right? Too many offseasons have been given the “wait, let’s see what the Mavericks are cooking” modifier. And it almost always ends the same way.
Bottom line: The Mavericks entered the offseason in desperate need of adding one or two more players to the playoff rotation. So far in free agency, they’re a net minus one with McGee in and Brunson out. That’s hard.
Doyle: The Mavericks certainly haven’t improved. After an unexpected run to the Western Conference Finals last season, expecting a repeat seems far-fetched after seeing their second-best ball handler walk away. Either the Dallas front office was caught completely off guard by Jalen Brunson’s departure or they mishandled him for months. Both may be true, but it will be considered another free agency blunder for the team (the list is long), if only because they got nothing in return.
As for the addition of JaVale McGee, um, okay? McGee has had a career as an journeyman and this will be his second stop in Dallas. He’s not a spring chicken, so his three-year deal is puzzling. And he expects to start? He must not start. But hey, I’m not the coach.
I like that they bring Theo Pinson back. Pinson didn’t get much playing time last season, but he was the heart and soul of the bench. I expect a similar role for him this season, though he could break the rotation now that Brunson is gone.
Ultimately, maybe free agency isn’t Nico Harrison’s thing. No one should have gone into this offseason expecting him to sign a champion-caliber player, but there’s every reason to be upset and frustrated because it looks like he and the front office were duped by Brunson. At least they read some of the tea leaves and moved on to the draft to catch Jaden Hardy.
Xavier: There’s a lot of disappointment surrounding Brunson’s departure and JaVale McGee being teams’ top target in free agency. It’s understandable, but there is a way forward for Mark Cuban and the Mavericks. It’s time for your computer to look in the mirror and hit the reset button. The list is old. It lacks advantage and versatility. The team and its trajectory may look very different 18 months from now if the team is willing to step back temporarily to build a sustainable winner capable of contending for a title annually.