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Mavericks utilize NBA offseason to upgrade roster, look ahead of season

The Dallas Mavericks navigated the breakneck pace of the NBA’s offseason looking to improve on a playoff team with December’s season debut right around the corner.
Credit: AP
Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic reacts during the second half against the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 5 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kim Klement/Pool Photo via AP)

DALLAS — For the Dallas Mavericks, the road towards the 2020-2021 season has moved quickly and aggressively. 

After the NBA suspended its 2019-2020 season a week before the official end of last winter on March 11, the 2020-2021 edition is on schedule to begin exactly one day after the official start of a new winter now nine months later.

With the accelerated timeline necessary for the Dec. 22 tip-off, the NBA draft and free agency both happened within the same week. The Mavericks roster depth looks drastically different from the way they ended the 2020 season in the bubble in Orlando just three months ago.

After much talk of possibly trading away the 18th overall pick for a veteran, Dallas ultimately held onto the pick and selected 6’6” Arizona product Josh Green, setting the tone for the offseason goal of increased athleticism and a defensive presence from their wing depth.

A bittersweet moment from the draft night came when the franchise said goodbye to sharpshooter Seth Curry, who was traded to Philadelphia for Josh Richardson and the rights to the 36th overall pick, 6’8” wing Tyler Bey from the Colorado Buffaloes. Bey was the 2020 PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year, which further illustrated Dallas’ preference for hard-nosed defense during this truncated offseason.

Curry was set to begin the second season of a team-friendly contract of four years at $8 million per season, a bargain for the current three-point percentage leader (44.3%) among active players. Nevertheless, Dallas aimed to get tougher and that meant having to make tough decisions. 

The 31st overall pick Tyrell Terry out of Stanford will be looked upon to fill the shooting role left behind by Curry, a player he mentioned he sees in himself on draft night. 

The Mavs made the decision to trade three seasons of control of the 30-year-old Curry for one guaranteed season of the 27-year-old Richardson at $10.8 million. Richardson has a player option for 2021-2022 of $11.6, which is quite manageable for a starting level wing with a respectable three-point stroke in his own right. Richardson is a clear defensive upgrade for the roster but he is still easily moveable if needed.

The Mavericks also made a trade to land James Johnson in a three-team trade. Johnson arrives in Dallas via Oklahoma City by way of Minnesota with Delon Wright heading to Detroit and Justin Jackson off to the Thunder. Johnson brings with him a reputation for being one of the league’s toughest players. 

After a physical playoff series with the Los Angeles Clippers, it was obvious that the Mavericks needed to emphasize a physical presence next to offensive stalwarts Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. 

Give Dallas credit for addressing the need quickly, no doubt learning their lesson from the championship additions of Tyson Chandler and Deshawn Stevenson next to Dirk Nowitzki a decade prior. 

New draftees Green, Terry, and Bey join Richardson and Johnson as fortifications to a team built to contend with the upper echelon of the Western Conference. They join mainstays such as Tim Hardaway Jr., Jalen Brunson, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Dwight Powell. 

With the team built around the star duo of Doncic and Porzingis, the roster heading into training camp was rounded out with the return of Trey Burke, Willie Cauley-Stein, and ageless Boricua J.J Barea.

Burke and Cauley-Stein split the mid-level exception between each other after the Mavs’ flirtation with Marc Gasol ended with the center going to Los Angeles. Barea will be battling for the last roster spot in his age 36 season as the last member of the 2010-2011 championship team still in the league. 

Speaking of the Mavs title team, this season marks the tenth anniversary for the highest point in franchise history. It is also the 40th anniversary of the team arriving in Dallas, and the Mavericks are commemorating both celebrations into this year's City Edition jerseys.

While the Mavericks have resisted fans' calls for a total rebrand over the last few years, the franchise should be applauded for going with a concept completely different from anything previously seen. 

The limited-time uniform not only offers a brand new color scheme, but also new lettering and number design. Sure the iconic Dallas pegasus is red, but the ode to the 2010-2011 title, and the 40th anniversary of the franchise, more than warrants the gold treatment.

If the nod towards the franchise’s bright future wasn’t enough, the iconic green “Hardwood Classics” uniform makes a return to satisfy traditionalists and streetwear fanatics alike.

This jersey was originally worn as the road uniform for Dallas from 1981-1992, and the Mavericks will also bring back the feel of Reunion Arena as a companion, with a retro blue and green court design to go along with this special look.

With a short timeframe to improve deficiencies for a playoff contender, the Mavs now enter training camp with a new look on the court and on the roster, with Luka Doncic and company looking to make the 2020-2021 season one to remember.

Do you think the Dallas Mavericks were able to sufficiently improve during the offseason? Share your thoughts with Irvin on Twitter @Twittirv.