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NBA trade machine: Is there a second star the Mavericks can pair with Luka Doncic?

What can Dallas offer to find a running mate for the point guard?

Cleveland Cavaliers v Dallas Mavericks
Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks gets back on defense against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first half at American Airlines Center on December 14, 2022 in Dallas, Texas.
Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks appear to have entered a holding pattern when it comes to choosing a path forward. On one hand, Dallas has a MVP contender in Luka Doncic who is likely to be the centerpiece of this franchise for the next decade and beyond. On the other, the Mavericks are asking Doncic to do too much and simply don’t have the supporting pieces to make a championship run.

Dallas has tried to pair a second star with Doncic and it didn’t go well. Kristaps Porzingis was supposedly the missing piece but that experiment flamed out. Now, the Mavericks are left with Doncic and a revolving door of wing players. That works well in the regular season when those wing players are hitting their shots but it doesn’t do much in the playoffs. Here’s what the Mavericks can realistically offer in trades.

Mavericks tradable assets

First-round picks: 2024, 2026, 2028
First-round swaps: 2025, 2027, 2029

Salary filler: Davis Bertans, Reggie Bullock, Maxi Kleber

Expiring contracts: Dwight Powell, Christian Wood

The Mavericks likely won’t deal Spencer Dinwiddie, Tim Hardaway Jr. or Dorian Finney-Smith unless they absolutely need to. The cupboard isn’t completely bare, as the pick swaps and expiring deals can give Dallas some juice. But are the stars out there?

There aren’t many other solo acts out there. Bradley Beal would be an option but he seems content in Washington and the Wizards will require a big haul to give him up. His salary commitment would be hard to move off if things don’t work between him and Doncic. DeMar DeRozan would be another star option but his timeline might not really fit with Doncic.

John Collins, Julius Randle, Nikola Vucevic and Myles Turner are all possible targets but would they be the same thing as Porzingis? Randle and Vucevic are sieves defensively, while Turner has some injury concerns and is an expiring contract himself. Collins has the long-term salary, which is why Atlanta wants to move him in the first place.

Verdict: Create cap space while maintaining draft assets

The Mavericks might actually be able to sign Turner or Vucevic outright in free agency if they can offload one of Bertans, Bullock or Kleber. Parting with a late draft pick would be worth the risk. If the Mavericks can bag Turner or Vucevic, they can then use the remaining capital to trade for a third piece. Dallas can’t remain in this holding pattern hoping a player magically becomes a star. They might’ve had that with Jalen Brunson, but that type of development doesn’t happen often. One thing is for certain; Dallas can’t keep doing this until the end of Doncic’s career. The chips have to pushed to center of the table at some point.