The Dallas Mavericks entered the 2020-21 season with lofty expectations after earning the 7-seed in the West last year in a breakout sophomore campaign from Luka Doncic. Entering his third season in the league, Doncic was the odds-on favorite to win MVP in preseason betting markets and many had the Mavs pegged for a top-4 seed in the West.
However, due to a variety of reasons, Dallas has scuffled out of the gate. Injuries and players missing time for COVID-19 protocols have played a major role in their 14-15 start, but for a team that was an offensive juggernaut a year ago, they haven’t been able to replicate that success this season. Of late, things have been looking up as they’ve won five of their last six, but few would confuse this Dallas team with a championship contender just yet.
That means there’s tinkering to be done with the roster, and just about everyone this side of Doncic is apparently up for discussion. This includes Kristaps Porzingis, the oft-injured but highly talented big man they acquired in a trade from the Knicks two years ago and gave a max deal that summer before he ever played a game for them. The expectation was he and Doncic would be a terrific fit, and last season there were times where that was the case. But overall, it hasn’t been as snug of a fit as the Mavs had hoped and, according to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, they’ve been exploring his trade value with other teams this month, with the March 25 trade deadline on the horizon.
In fact, Dallas has quietly gauged the trade market for Porzingis, according to league sources, as the Mavericks have begun reevaluating whether the 25-year-old center can truly support Doncic as the second option on a contender. “They’ve kicked the tires on everybody on their roster that’s not named Luka,” one person with knowledge of Dallas’ thinking said. “You know [president of basketball operations] Donnie [Nelson]; they’re always tinkering.”
“They’ve definitely sniffed around on him,” an assistant general manager told B/R. “They’re taking the temperature, because they know at some point it’s gonna come around.”
Adding to that report, Ian Begley of SNY reports that one of the teams Dallas has spoken to about Porzingis are the Warriors, who could be looking to move off of Kelly Oubre (an expiring who would help the Mavs clear cap space to chase free agents) or Andrew Wiggins, should the Mavs believe he could be a fit. It should be noted that nothing seems inevitable on that front, just interesting that in the second year of Porzingis’ max deal they’re already exploring all the possibilities. As for the official response to the rumors, well, Mark Cuban provided the kind of denial one would expect.
"It's not accurate," he says. "We have not discussed him in a trade at all. Has not happened."
— Brad Townsend (@townbrad) February 23, 2021
In any case, Dallas is going to be a fascinating team to watch over the next month, both in seeing whether they can build on this current winning streak and vault up the West standings and, should they stall out again, what kind of moves they’ll try to make to turn things around. Cuban and Donnie Nelson aren’t the most patient individuals, and if they think the Porzingis-Doncic combo isn’t the answer, it’s possible they make a major shakeup to this roster.