The Mavs Signings ... Enough for Doncic?

The Mavericks have strengthened in the market, but have not managed to deliver the blow they intended. With Kidd, it is pursued to go one step further.

For months, and before they began to pile up, there were two concerns that dominated the Dallas Mavericks offices. The first, that the extension of Luka Doncic did not escape. It seemed like a sure thing, but nothing is in the NBA. The second, better surround the Slovenian player. Operation Doncic, to name it. The ex of the Real Madrid is to win now. Without going any further, it is to be MVP. That indicates the first forecasts, somewhat risky, and they already did at the beginning of last season. When Luka landed in Texas, everything started to change. That was only three seasons ago, but it seems long enough to go further. At the very least, to get to the next level, to take a step that has resisted since 2011: overcome a first round of playoffs. Then, not only was it made, but the ring was obtained, the first and only in the history of the organization. It is no coincidence, then, that Dirk Nowitzki is once again linked to the franchise. Nothing brings more security than shaking hands with experience and no one can better guide the new generations than the one who has already walked the path.

Donnie Nelson, one of the new absentees for the next season, in 1998, changed the future of Dallas and, indirectly, that of the NBA. Milwaukee Bucks, with number nine in the Draft, chose Nowtizki and, immediately, the German giant was traded to the Mavericks. In exchange, in Texas they let Robert Traylor go. The movement did not stop there, but also had its weight, finally, in the arrival of Steve Nash to the franchise. With Dirk, Pat Garrity was also moving, who, in turn, set course for the Phoenix Suns with Martin Müürsepp, Bubba Wells and a first round, turned into Shawn Marion, by the way. The suffocating rhythm of the best league in the world. What concerns the present story: Nelson moved to get Nowtizki, loved him and, years later, repeated his modus operandi with Luka Doncic, whom he had followed since his second year as a professional.

The former COO, replaced by Nico Harrison for next season, saw the German's gaze on the Slovenian. Or, rather, its ability to bring the franchise back to the top. And that moment is coming. Or should. Or so it is intended. "How do you get a star who can create his own shots so that the responsibility is not entirely Luka's?" Mark Cuban wondered in June. For now, the answer remains uncertain. Objectives have been met, and very important, but the qualitative leap that, for now, the team has taken in this market window may leave doubts. Doncic's five more years, for $ 207 million, are the cornerstone. That which gives meaning to the rest, which allows us to even talk about it, but we want to go further. And it is necessary to reflect on if it really is being this way. "Tim Hardaway did a great job in the catch-and-shoot and even improved his game beyond dribbling, but we have to add there. And that is what we are going to look for this summer," Cuban assured at the same time. And Hardaway has renewed too: four years and $ 74 million for him. He was Doncic's best squire against the Los Angeles Clippers and, surely, he won the contract; but it is still a familiar face. The image of a sense of continuity. One that, thus far, has been insufficient.

Market winners or losers? They have moved, but it is unknown to what extent successfully. And if it has been enough, as had been anticipated. Before free agency opened, aspirations were through the roof. In a song that was exciting, and was unlikely, like no other, Kawhi Leonard was heard talking about. Later, DeMar DeRozan or Spencer Dinwiddie appeared and, finally, Kyle Lowry was, surely, the one who was closest. But it did not come. And it can be a problem. Mainly, because that longed-for second star has not been achieved. That one that, in addition, was seen, at the time, in a Kristaps Porzingis that has disappointed. In their place have come a number of pieces that may fit, but are not expected to excessively unload the offensive weight that Doncic currently carries.

Their names are primarily Reggie Bullock and Sterling Brown, and their role is unambiguous and shared: augmenting edge tools. Both exteriors, possibilities at '2' and at '3', stand out for the threat of their outside shot. Last season, at the New York Knicks, Bullock had a 41% success on the triple with 6.1 attempts; Brown, meanwhile, in the Houston Rockets, 42.3% with 4.2. In the case of the second, it has been the best season of his career, which will begin his fifth year in the NBA. In the first, in terms of launch accuracy, he stayed close to his best standards, at an incredible 44.5% in 2017-18, his penultimate season at the Detroit Pistons. Reggie, beyond the possibilities from long distance, will bring veterancy to a young group and will increase the defensive level; but, nevertheless, it will not affect what Cuban was so worried about. He will contribute points, because he has them (10.9 last year), but, for the most part, not generated by himself. An incognito that still seeks to be cleared.

Y for which answers are still being sought. In that sense, Goran Dragic has been the last to appear. And disappear? He arrived as part of the Lowry operation at the Toronto Raptors and his future did not seem to be tied to the Canadian franchise, but now the scene has begun to change. "It was not my preferred destination. I had greater ambitions," he declared as soon as the operation closed. Now, he has backed down: "I love basketball, I love to play and I will give 100% wherever I play. Right now, I am with Toronto and that is what focuses my thinking," he rectified, at the same time that has apologized to the Toronto fans. The Mavs seemed his preference and in Texas he would have been a great fit. Both for needs and for chemistry, because in 2017, next to Doncic, he won the Eurobasket. Beyond its name, there is no news on the horizon. Likewise, the rest of the new faces are reduced to Nate Hinton, with a dual contract, and Moses Brown, very interesting for the inside game, but who is far from the pretense of winning now. He is 21 years old and has a promising future, but he only has 52 league games.

The new address

That is the current map of the template, which still has room for improvement. With the transfer of Josh Richardson to the Boston Celtics, an exception of 10.9 million was obtained. It will seek to be used within a very limited salary space, which has added the 30.5 million for 3 years of Bullock and that, likewise, has 100 million to invest in Porzingis (36 of them, with a player option available to the Latvian in the 2023-24 season). Jason Kidd will have to count on all of this when he takes over from Rick Carlisle, the coach who led the franchise to glory. A major challenge, both because of the trajectory that he will occupy (thirteen seasons of history) and because of his own, not very productive at the head of the benches. He did not convince either the Bucks or the Brooklyn Nets, although now he comes after growing up alongside Frank Vogel, from whom he intends to incorporate mechanisms. "I will take what I learned from Frank and apply it here. When you see Frank's defenses, they have finished first in the last two years. Here in Dallas we are going to improve the defense, because we know we can score," he said in his presentation.

In his career as a head coach, the 2014 conference semifinals with the Nets have been his ceiling. With the Bucks, instead, he ran into the current black beast in Dallas: the first round. Last season, the franchise finished 20th in defensive efficiency, their big concern. Offensively, however, the performance also fell compared to previous campaigns, in which a historical record had been set in this field. With Bullock and Sterling, you can improve on weakened flanks. Without going any further, the team comes from trying 38.1 triples per game (6th in the league) with a 36.2% success rate (18th). There, surely, part of their signings is justified. But they are the only ones who add new life to a team that, perhaps, Carlisle has already squeezed the most. "We are going to pay attention to the little things, which will guide us to win the trophy," concluded Kidd at his first press conference. That is the great objective, although, for the moment, it seems distant in the immediate term. Of course, in the NBA you never know. Nothing is certain, for bad ... or for better.

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