Breaking Down the Jalen Brunson Dilemma and a Tricky Trade Deadline for the Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks are heading into the trade deadline with a lot of questions. The Mavs have been in rebuilding mode for years, and now they’re stuck between wanting to tank or compete. What’s the best course of action? A process that involves looking at what players can help them win games and which ones will be long time contributors but not enough to put you over .500 this season.

The “owner of the dallas mavericks” is a tricky trade deadline for the Dallas Mavericks. The team has to decide whether or not to trade star player Jalen Brunson, and if they do, what type of return they will get.

As the Feb. 10 deadline approaches, the Dallas Mavericks have been a quiet club in terms of trade rumors. However, the Mavs have a number of decisions to make in a variety of areas, including a choice on point guard Jalen Brunson that may have long-term implications for the organization.

Dallas wants (and needs) to assist Luka Doncic in leading a lengthy playoff run this season, since the Slovenian superstar has failed to go beyond the Western Conference first round. However, there is a fine line to walk between a playoff push this year and slowing things down for the future.

So, in the coming days, what changes do the Mavericks need to make — or can make — to effectively straddle both sides?

The Dallas Mavericks are approaching a crucial deadline, and trade speculations are circulating as a result.

The Dallas Mavericks need to manage a tricky NBA trade deadline.

The Dallas Mavericks need to manage a tricky NBA trade deadline. The Dallas Mavericks’ Jalen Brunson and Luka Doncic react to a play during the second quarter of a game against the Portland Trail Blazers. | Getty Images/Steph Chambers

On Dec. 29, the Mavericks were defeated by the Sacramento Kings (amazing, by the way). The squad is now 16-18 for the season as a result of the defeat.

Dallas has gone 15-5 since then, climbing to sixth place in the Western Conference standings.

Despite having the fourth-best record in the NBA throughout that time, the Mavericks have been led by their defense. They are 16th in offensive rating but second in defensive rating, which isn’t what you’d expect from a Doncic-led team.

Dorian Finney-Smith has played a key role in the defense. This season, the 6-foot-7 winger has started all but one game and is nearly usually assigned to protect the opposition team’s top player.

Luka is a minus on defense, fellow wing Tim Hardaway Jr. is out for the season due to injury, and Kristaps Porzingis, the team’s final line of defense at the rim, has missed 20 of the team’s first 54 games.

Finney-Smith will be key to the Mavericks’ postseason success. He is, though, an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the season, as is point guard Jalen Brunson, who is also a free agency case study.

How do the Mavericks resolve the Brunson conundrum?

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In 2021-22, the fourth-year Villanova guard has been by far Dallas’ second-best player. He’s having a career year, averaging 16.0 points and 5.5 assists with a 51/35/80 shooting split.

(As a side note, JB reminds me of Kyle-Lowry in terms of size, growth timetable, and philosophy.) In college, they both played for Jay Wright.)

Brunson has been the ideal partner for Doncic, and with his improved output and age (25), the Mavs’ floor general might flourish in a larger role.

Several clubs, including the New York Knicks, have shown interest in him as the deadline approaches. However, the Mavericks’ asking price is reasonably high – according to Marc Stein, a 2023 first-round selection from New York isn’t even worth considering.

Brunson, on the other hand, will be an unrestricted free agency after the season, and reports that he plans to demand “north of $20 million” each year.

As a result, the conundrum exists. Does Dallas retain him until the deadline, risking losing him in a bidding war once free agency begins, knowing it would cost a lot of money to keep him after this season? Is it possible for them to locate a desperate trading partner now in order to avert such scenario?

Or is he just too important to the Mavericks’ goals for the season?

What would the Mavericks’ ideal NBA trade deadline look like?

Finney-Smith wants roughly $15 million per year in a new arrangement, in addition to Brunson’s asking price of more than $20 million. As a result, clearing payroll would be at least one of the Mavericks’ deadline objectives.

Is it, however, incompatible with the goal of making a deep playoff run? Hardaway Jr. is in the first year of a four-year, $74 million contract and has struggled. According to Spotrac, Zinger, a 7-3 center with a history of foot ailments, will earn $34 million next season and more than $36 million in 2023-24.

It won’t be simple to break out of either deal.

The Mavericks have a $10.9 million trade exception, but if they elect to retain Brunson and Finney-Smith for the stretch run, potential buyout candidates like Robin Lopez and Tristan Thompson may have to pay up front.

Goran Dragic of the Toronto Raptors has been heavily connected to Dallas. If he’s bought out, it’ll be a coup for head coach Jason Kidd since he’ll have another backcourt option to complement Brunson and Luka.

The Mavericks might face a big luxury tax charge in 2022-23 if they can’t offload money and want to re-sign both of their primary free agents. “We will do all we can to retain (both Jalen Brunson and Dorian) Finney-Smith,” Cuban added in a separate report on

Something needs to give, somewhere, at some time. Either Dallas deals one of its prospective free players before the deadline, or the team will be obliged to clear a large amount of salary space, either now or later in the summer.

Alternatively, if competing clubs wish to make poison pill contract offers after the season, the terrible third possibility would be to lose one or both.

When you have a generational superstar and a goal of winning an NBA Championship, that’s the price (literally) of doing business. provided all data.

RELATED: NBA Trade Deadline: Luka Doncic and the Quiet Mavs May Be Forced to Make Do With What They Have

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