Friday, January 13, 2023

Mavericks Proposal Strips Draft Capital, Finney-Smith for Elite Luka Co-Star

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Phew, Thursday night was a thrill for the Dallas Mavericks. Led by Luka Doncic’s exploits (not one, but two Three-pointers to send the game to Double OT), the Mavs squeaked against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Now, for a moment, imagine a world where Doncic, who’s shooting just 35% from three this season, didn’t have to endure that late-game burden. Wouldn’t it be nice for Dallas to be able to count on a hotter hand? Or at least have the menacing presence of one out there on the ground?

Absolutely. And in a trade suggested by dallasbasketball.com’s Dalton Trigg, the Mavs land that player in Bulls star Zach LaVine. But the trade comes at a price: it deprives the team of significant future design capital.

Mavs received: Zach LaVine, Andre Drummond

Get Bulls: Caris LeVert, Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock, two future first-round picks and two future first-round pick swaps

Cavs received: Tim Hardaway Jr., a second-round pick

That trade is the momentum Dallas may need to take to rise to the status of the Nuggets, Pelicans and Grizzlies that all lead the Western Conference. But given that the team would be giving up much of its future in this trade, the team can’t afford to miss that momentum (look at you, Kristaps Porzingis).

As Trigg noted, LaVine could be thrown into the Mavs roster to add a significant Get Out of Jail card if Doncic’s shot doesn’t fall.

“Having a stellar offensive talent like LaVine alongside Doncic could help the Mavs avoid situations like Tuesday night, when Doncic scored 20 of his team’s 23 points in the fourth quarter in a 113-101 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers,” said Trigg wrote.

But LaVine could also strengthen a Mavs team whose three-point average is league average (16th). This is a team reportedly stacked with shooters like Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Josh Green, though the latter has lost time this season through injury.

After a slow start, LaVine shoots daylight out of the ball. His true shot percentage is up to 59% in a league where everything is around 60% gold. As of Dec. 16, LaVine’s three-point shooting is up to 47%, which would immediately be the highest among any Mavs player to appear in at least five games this season.

It’s a drooling late-game proposition for the Mavericks: the opposing defense would have to pick their poison. You can send a double to a driving Doncic and have him feed an outlet pass to LaVine, or provide an assist to a slicing Christian Wood.

LaVine won’t lighten the stat sheet defensively, an area where the 22-ranked Mavericks could use some help. Perhaps the Mavs could lure the Bulls into sending them Alex Caruso in a deal as well.

On the Caruso front, The Ringer’s Michael Pina linked the Mavericks to the former Lakers guard, noting his fit at the Lone Star State is a no-brainer.

“The Nuggets already have Bruce Brown, but they also can’t surround Jokic with too many defensive guards,” Pina wrote. “The Mavs would love to have him [Caruso] (Jason Kidd coached Caruso in Los Angeles) and he fits on both ends alongside Luka Doncic (just like he did with LeBron a few years ago).”

Of course, add Dallas to a list of teams who . . . Everyone! Caruso is the kind of tradesman for playoff teams looking for that one piece that will take them all the way.

Of course, add Dallas to a list of teams who . . . Everyone! Caruso is the kind of tradesman for playoff teams looking for that one piece that will take them all the way.

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