Mavericks bridging eras

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NBCSports.com’s Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.

Are the Mavericks building around a 40-year-old entering his 21st season or a 19-year-old rookie?

Yes.

Dallas has refused to begin a season tanking as long as Dirk Nowitzki holds off retirement. With that plan, it made sense to trade up for No. 3 pick Luka Doncic, the most polished player in the draft. He might contribute immediately while leading the Mavericks into their next era.

The trade for Doncic – which sent the No. 5 pick (Trae Young) and a future first-rounder to the Hawks – only further clarified Dallas’ position. The extra first-rounder is just top-five protected the next two years, top-three protected the following two years and unprotected in 2023. That limits downside in the surrendered pick’s value, but those protections are too light to deliberately tank under. The Mavericks can’t shoot for a top-five pick. They must try to be as good as possible this season and send Atlanta the worst pick possible.

So, Dallas got over its feud with DeAndre Jordan. Three years after Jordan infamously reneged on his pledge to sign with the Mavericks, he declined his $24,119,025 player option with the Clippers and signed with Dallas for $22,897,200 on one-year contract. He should help plenty at center. With the Mavericks’ first-round pick likely gone and Nowitzki inching closer to retirement, this season is too important to hold onto years-old grudges.

Unfortunately for the Mavericks, they likely didn’t make enough upgrades to make the playoffs. They were underrated last year and should be even better this year, but this Western Conference is loaded.

Dallas lost Yogi Ferrell to the Kings in yet another reneging saga and brought back old favorite Devin Harris instead. The Mavericks also guaranteed minimum salaries for Dorian Finney-Smith and Maxi Kleber and signed several other players to guaranteed minimum salaries – Salah Mejri, Ryan Broekhoff, No. 33 pick Jalen Brunson and No. 56 pick Ray Spalding. Filling out the roster this way has become the norm in Dallas.

Of course, the Mavericks also finally got around to re-signing Nowitzki to a one-year contract worth $5 million, the same amount his declined team option would have paid. It is his team, after all.

Unless its Doncic’s.

Offseason grade: B