5 teams to target to move back into the first round
Dallas Mavericks (Pick No. 26)
The easiest targets are to find the teams that are desperate to win now.
These are the teams that are not likely to want to wait on the development from a rookie. And with this not being a particularly deep draft class — especially with coveted shooters — these are the teams that are going to be most desperate to move out of the draft and add some veteran players.
The Dallas Mavericks are certainly a team that should be looking for ways to get better quickly. They need to strike while their iron is hot and strike quickly.
That is what the Mavericks face now. They have gotten a taste of the Western Conference Finals and now they have to keep their perch and try to advance. They cannot let themselves be like the Atlanta Hawks and fall off after this breakthrough.
The challenge is figuring out the right players to surround Luka Doncic with.
The Mavericks’ initial thought was to build 3-point shooting to surround Doncic. The scorching shooting from Reggie Bullock, Jalen Brunson Davis Bertan and Maxi Kleber helped propel the Mavericks to that surprising playoff run.
The Mavericks could well go down that same path, hoping to keep some shooting around and doubling down on the strategy.
That would make Ross at least an intriguing prospect, especially with the dearth of shooting seemingly available in this draft. Whether that means Dallas would want second-round picks is another question.
So too is the other question of what the Mavericks would give up to match Ross’ salary. They have two options in Dwight Powell and Dorian Finney-Smith — both players we considered as potential targets for Ross at the trade deadline. If the Magic did have conversations with Dallas back at the deadline, it is likely those conversations may pick up again.
Hanging in the background too is the potential that Dallas could be a team that chases after Mo Bamba in free agency. Undoubtedly his mix of rim protection and 3-point shooting would be a benefit to them and the kind of center the team would like to have.
There are obvious drawbacks that Orlando is aware of. And the Mavericks will be well over the cap next year, meaning they will only have the mid-level exception to offer in free agency. A sign and trade would be extremely difficult with Dallas because of the team’s cap situation.
That might make the prospect of having two second-round picks with their non-guaranteed contracts far more beneficial. As would Ross’ expiring contract if the Magic were willing to take on the long-term prospect of Finney-Smith (four years, $55.6-million remaining on his deal).
Taking on a long-term deal like Dorian Finney-Smith — something that a team like the Miami Heat (pick No. 27) will likely be trying to do with Duncan Robinson (five years, $104.2 million owed) in a similar fashion — might be the cost of trying to move up.
If that means the Magic trade up for a player they really want, the Mavericks could get two bites at the apple in the second round and a veteran they can rely on — or flip again — in the short-term.