DALLAS — Another year, another NBA trade deadline in which many around Dallas and the league wonder how the Mavericks will approach building around Luka Doncic.
A week from the Feb. 9 cutoff, it’s impossible to predict how potential moves for the Mavericks or other contenders around the Western Conference will unfold.
But Doncic-related history indicates Dallas will not hesitate to be part of the action.
Here’s a look back at the Mavericks’ moves at the previous four trade deadlines in Doncic’s tenure with analysis for what that might mean in Year 5.
Last year represents the only example of how general manager Nico Harrison and the Mavericks’ current leadership might approach the trade deadline.
Minutes before the deadline, Dallas sent Kristaps Porzingis and a 2022 second-round pick to the Washington Wizards for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans, admitting the previous regime’s mistakes quickly after recognizing 2019 deadline acquisition Porzingis didn’t fit the vision around Doncic in coach Jason Kidd’s system.
Dinwiddie didn’t appear to be a lucrative addition, with a large contract the Wizards were eager to shed. But his role creating offense off the bench and closing lineups with Doncic and Jalen Brunson established a three-ball-handler system as a playoff-winning strategy to help enhance Doncic’s dominance.
— How it affects 2023: Dinwiddie has become the Mavericks’ second-most important player this season, helping them fill Brunson’s void in the starting backcourt and taking on a significant scoring and facilitating role when Doncic is on the bench or out. But Dallas never replaced Dinwiddie’s bench role with a third point guard after Brunson’s departure. Adding another offensive stalwart who can create shots for him and others will be a primary focus for the Mavericks before Feb. 9.
Though the NBA pushed back the 2021 trade deadline to late March during the COVID-delayed and condensed season, the Mavericks were no less active. They traded Wes Iwundu, James Johnson, a 2021 second-round pick and cash to the New Orleans Pelicans for shooting guard J.J. Redick, reserve forward Nicolo Melli and a trade exception.
Redick played 13 games with Dallas before a heel injury, which had been an issue before the trade, sidelined him from the end of the regular season through the playoffs. Melli played 23 games, including four starts, but left the NBA to return to the EuroLeague after the Mavericks’ repeat first-round loss to the Clippers.
— How it affects 2023: Redick’s short tenure is another example of a player’s health derailing the Mavericks’ trade expectations. Likely wary of targets with lengthy injury histories after the Porzingis experiment, Dallas has most frequently been linked to players who don’t have obvious injury concerns, such as Detroit wing Bojan Bogdanovic. But the health of some superstar possibilities, including Chicago’s Zach LaVine, could warrant extra scrutiny.
Starting center Dwight Powell tore his Achilles in late January, compelling the Mavericks to trade a 2020 second-round pick to the Warriors for Willie Cauley-Stein.
COVID-19 suspended the NBA season about six weeks after his arrival. Cauley-Stein didn’t play in the Disney World bubble during the restart and the Mavericks’ first-round playoff series because he stayed in Dallas for the birth of his first child.
He appeared in 53 games during the 2020-21 season, but Dallas released him in the middle of last season. He never developed into a regular rotation player who could capitalize on his physical potential.
Just after the 2020 trade deadline, the Mavericks also signed former Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on the buyout market. Kidd-Gilchrist played spot minutes for a couple weeks before the COVID shutdown and again in the bubble, but his NBA career ended after the Mavericks lost that first-round series to the Clippers.
— How it affects 2023: The outcomes offer cautionary examples. Mavericks leadership hasn’t shown a strong urge to replace injured players (such as Maxi Kleber, out since December with a hamstring tear) or add players from the buyout market (such as last season, when Doncic’s mentor and veteran point guard Goran Dragic became a free agent).
Donnie Nelson and Co. made an unexpected blockbuster splash with the New York Knicks, swapping Dennis Smith Jr., DeAndre Jordan and Wesley Matthews and first-round picks in 2021 and 2023 for Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke and Courtney Lee.
Porzingis showed flashes of co-star potential next to Doncic, but he didn’t pan out because of injuries, inconsistent availability and a disconnect in playing styles.
Hardaway has become the most valuable part of the trade, but even as he’s played as a regular starting shooting guard, the Mavericks’ all-in swing resulted in a major miss.
— How it affects 2023: Dallas is still paying off its Knicks debt in Doncic’s fifth season — and more than a year post-Porzingis. Until the final top-10 protected pick transfers this summer, NBA rules prohibit the Mavericks from trading a first-round selection before 2025, limiting their immediate assets for another notable trade.