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SportCan Doncic change Mavericks' fortunes in free agency?

23:55  14 january  2019
23:55  14 january  2019 Source:

Legend of Luka grows: Doncic takes over with late heroics to lead Mavericks past T'wolves

Legend of Luka grows: Doncic takes over with late heroics to lead Mavericks past T'wolves Luka Doncic came into the NBA with high expectations. We might need to start thinking even bigger after his late-game heroics beat the T'wolves.

The Dallas Mavericks best player is now Luka Doncic . Dallas Mavericks : Harrison Barnes changing his game next to Luka Doncic by Vladislav Shufinskiy. Dallas Mavericks fans could be in for a treat. Dirk Nowitzki‘s nostalgia-filled NBA journey will always melt MFFL’s blue-bleeding hearts.

Grabbing Doncic is worth losing a late lottery pick in 2019. If the Mavericks make it back to the playoffs next season, the pick sent to Atlanta will be a total afterthought Rick Carlisle told reporters Thursday night that the Mavericks are ready to fill holes in free agency , and we know Cuban is ready to spend.

Can Doncic change Mavericks' fortunes in free agency?© Provided by Perform Media Channels Limited

Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki was asked recently about the quick rise of his 19-year-old rookie teammate, Luka Doncic, who has already made his impact felt in All-Star balloting (No. 2 among Western Conference forwards in fan voting behind only LeBron James). Nowitzki chuckled.

"Luka-mania," he said. "It’s real."

FACES OF 2019: Doncic among young stars who will shape tomorrow's headlines

That is, of course, good news for the current state of the Mavs, who are 20-23 and 2.5 games from the No. 8 seed in the West as they try to earn their first postseason slot since 2016. Doncic has averaged a team-high 20.2 points, with 6.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists, and followed up a clutch performance in a win over Minnesota (29 points, 12 assists) on Friday with a sterling showing against the Warriors (26 points) in a tight loss Sunday.

Warriors coach Kerr buying into Doncic hype

Warriors coach Kerr buying into Doncic hype Steve Kerr is buying into the Luka Doncic hype.

At the start of the month, I surmised the Mavericks were well positioned to sign DeMarcus Cousins in free agency , and this belief grew With the Mavericks trading away their fifth pick to Atlanta for the Hawks’ third selection — and correspondingly the rights to Luka Doncic , Dallas signaled much more

Doncic can also thrive in an off-ball role, either setting screens for Smith at the top of the key or running around screens and knocking down catch-and-shoot The good news for the Mavs is they have the cap space to be aggressive in free agency , and there will be no shortage of big men to choose from.

More significant, though, could be what the addition of Doncic means for the future of the franchise as the front office tries to build a roster around him and, to a lesser extent, Dennis Smith Jr., the Mavs’ other young guard.

Dallas won an NBA championship in 2011. But the team has not won a playoff series since.

"We’ve been through some tough years — a lot after the championship — but the last couple, extremely tough," Nowitzki said. "But we feel like we have got some great young guys. We drafted Dennis last year and we drafted Luka this year. Those are some great young guys we can build around. They’re both only 20 years old or so.

"We have some cornerstones we can build on. Hopefully this franchise is going in the right direction."

Ah, direction. That’s been a difficult subject for Dallas in the last few years. The Mavs have tried to balance the impending departure of Nowitzki against the need to rebuild, and that’s clouded the team’s decisions. Nowitzki is 40 (still unsure he is ready to retire), and the Mavs have tried to stay competitive in the West while dealing with his natural late-career decline.

Doncic hasn’t changed Mavs’ timeline – he is their timeline

Doncic hasn’t changed Mavs’ timeline – he is their timeline Luka Doncic is the real deal. 

The Mavericks also added lottery picks two years in a row, selecting Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic as foundational centerpieces for their franchise. While these three players are not quite enough to put them in the running for serious contention in the Western Conference

"Dallas Mavericks have signed free agent guard Yuki Togashi".

Going back to the championship, Dallas has repeatedly failed to bring in a top-shelf free agent to carry the load alongside Nowitzki — in part because it was clear that Nowitzki was careening toward the end of his time as a star in the league. Some of those misses (Deron Williams in 2012, Dwight Howard in 2013, Carmelo Anthony in 2014) have been fortunate, but others (LeBron James in 2014, LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre Jordan in 2015) would have been a boost.

The Mavericks did hand out overloaded contracts to Wesley Matthews (2015) and Harrison Barnes (2016), but neither has been good enough to lift the franchise back to the playoffs.

Doncic changes the way the Mavs can pitch themselves in free agency. This is a team with a suddenly bright future, not one clinging to the final productive years of Nowitzki's career.

"It’s always hard to make that pitch and get over the hump with free agents," one league source told Sporting News. "But they didn’t really have a chance with those guys. Players mostly like (owner Mark) Cuban, and they were always a compelling enough franchise to get in the room with LeBron and Dwight Howard and other stars. But they could not present themselves as a team with a great future.

Watch: Luka Doncic Kicks Ball Into Stands After Whistle, Gets Ejected

Watch: Luka Doncic Kicks Ball Into Stands After Whistle, Gets Ejected Watch: Luka Doncic Kicks Ball Into Stands After Whistle, Gets Ejected

You can see the Mavericks ’ vision: Doncic has a strong rookie season and becomes a ball-sharer that everyone wants to play next to. Then, they sign a free agent or two next summer to rebuild the club into a contender in the near future. To have a pair of intriguing young players ( Doncic and Smith Jr.) and

Luka Doncic . #77 G. 6' 6", 218 lbs. Dallas Mavericks . BornFeb 28, 1999 in Ljubljana, Slovenia (Age: 19). Luka Doncic Game-by-Game Stats. Free AgencyFree Agency . Trade TrackerTrade Tracker.

"They can do that now. Not sure they can push a star to put his name on the line, but 'Come play with Luka,' it’s a better message."

MORE: Steve Kerr says Doncic is "already an All-Star"

The Mavericks have been meticulous in protecting their cap space going forward. They will finally be out from Matthews’ contract this summer (he is being paid $18.6 million this year), and Barnes’ contract runs up next summer (assuming he takes his player option for the 2019-20 season). The Mavs signed DeAndre Jordan this summer for $23 million but only for one year.

Dallas has only a little more than $50 million on the books next season and could have around $60 million to spend in the summer — enough to sign a max free agent and another significant salary.

The Mavericks have shown interest in Wizards forward Otto Porter, and could relieve Washington of Porter’s hefty contract ($56 million over the next two years after this season) by sending over Matthews and forward Dwight Powell. That would still leave the Mavs with enough offseason money to land a max-contract player, but the Wizards have shown little interest in losing Porter as a pure salary dump. The Mavs would be unlikely to include Smith or draft picks as part of a Porter package.

Mavs rookie Doncic vows to learn from first ejection

Mavs rookie Doncic vows to learn from first ejection Dallas rookie Luka Doncic admits he let frustration get the better of him in the Mavericks' 111-99 loss against the Indiana Pacers, earning his first ejection from an NBA game. The 19-year-old Slovenian, who arrived in the NBA after starring in the EuroLeague, has earned praise for his maturity as well as his skills and basketball savvy. But his exasperation with the officiating on Saturday night saw him tossed for a second technical foul when he booted a ball into the stands in the third quarter. "I wasn't playing good for sure," said Doncic, who finished with eight points, six assists and five rebounds.

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Dallas Mavericks - Game Highlights. Doncic Checks on Cameraman ✊. DeAndre Jordan suffered a left-hand contusion in the first half, but is available in the second, per the Mavericks . Michael Lee @MrMichaelLee.

Free agents are listed in italics, with their type of free agency in parenthesis. UFA stands for unrestricted free agent . The trade included a future first round pick, but the Mavericks may have gotten the best player in the draft. The big question is how they will play Doncic with Dennis Smith

The Mavs, though, don’t figure to be a destination for the handful of top free agents on the summer’s market — Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving, all of whom are likely to either remain with their current teams or play on one of the coasts. But it would be worth the effort for the Mavs to make their offer to any of those players.

Dallas could be in the market for a versatile wing like Khris Middleton and could take a stab at DeMarcus Cousins if he can return to health this year after undergoing Achilles tendon surgery.

The Mavericks have options, and Doncic has brightened the franchise’s outlook. Coach Rick Carlisle almost expected that to happen.

"He’s been a very good player overseas for quite a while," Carlisle said. "He dominated over there. It was just a matter of going and getting the deal done and getting him drafted, getting him there and having him start playing with his teammates. He’s done very good things. That’s obvious. The more he sees, the more he experiences, the better he gets."

They’re counting on Doncic to get better in Dallas — not just to push for the playoffs this year, but to attract free agents and rebuild the franchise in the future, too.

Related slideshow: 2018-19 NBA season (provided by USA Today Sports)

Can Doncic change Mavericks' fortunes in free agency?

Mavs' Doncic tosses pass for alley-oop.
Dallas Mavericks star rookie Luka Doncic plays nothing like a 19-year-old. 

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