Dallas Mavericks 2024 NBA offseason preview: It's time to add some shooters around the superstars

2023-24 season: 50-32

Highlight of the season: Beating the Minnesota Timberwolves convincingly in five games, with Luka Dončić playing on one leg, is not just up there as the highlight of the season for the Mavericks, but as one of the biggest highlights of the entire league.

In utter heartbreak. The Mavericks made it to the Finals by showing their muscles, only to fade away with a whimper against the Boston Celtics, showing very little fight in the process.

The Finals loss will sit firmly on the team’s mind for the rest of the summer, but there are positive takeaways from this season, such as winning the West in a year when the field of competitors was one of the strongest in years. Dallas also saw how a team led by Dončić and Kyrie Irving could fare with more time together, and the Mavs found a playing style that seems sustainable for at least another few years.

After Dallas acquired P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford at the trade deadline, the franchise started playing a new brand of physical bully-ball, punishing teams inside on the glass while providing Dončić with more passing targets. This formula still needs some tweaking for future seasons, but it’s a blueprint that brought them further than ever in the Dončić era, meaning there’s plenty of reason to roll most of the roster back.

That said, the Mavericks did see multiple role players wither away in the Finals, with Josh Green, Maxi Kleber and Tim Hardaway Jr. not making strong cases for themselves for the future. All three are under contract for next season, accounting for over $39 million, and it’s reasonable to wonder if any of them return next season, or if they'll be moved during the offseason.

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 17: Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks reacts during the fourth quarter of Game Five of the 2024 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on June 17, 2024 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Luka Dončić of the Dallas Mavericks walks off the floor during the fourth quarter of Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on June 17, 2024, in Boston. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

By making the Finals, the Mavericks are now on the clock. They don’t want to make this a one-off experience, and that means identifying new role players who fit the makeup of the team better and who understand how to optimize themselves next to both Dončić and Irving for next season.

While Irving still has some years left in his prime, it’s worth mentioning he’s 32 and probably won’t have another five years left to make his mark. If anything, his age is an incentive to get things moving, and quickly, which could signal an active summer for the Mavericks.

3&D players, regardless of position, who are willing and capable of shooting immediately off the catch. The Mavericks have too many timid players who aren’t ready to pull the trigger when open, and that needs to change as soon as possible.

The Mavs have the last pick in the draft after doing well last year by selecting center Dereck Lively II. An older, experienced player could be at play here such as Houston's Jamal Shead or Virginia's Reece Beekman. — Krysten Peek

Draft pick: No. 58

Dallas is only a smidge below the first tax apron, so if the Mavs want to give themselves more wiggle room, pivoting off Green, Kleber and Hardaway in return for less salary could be a way to achieve that. It’s unlikely all three are taken into cap space, so they’re probably looking at taking back smaller deals.

Without the luxury of having money to spend, expect the Mavs to get better through trades more than anything.

Key free agent

Derrick Jones Jr. (UFA)

You cannot make the NBA Finals and expect anything less than a return to that level. Next season’s goal is an NBA championship, hands down.

The Mavericks underwent a surprising transformation post-All-Star break, emerging as a success story. Their savvy trades for Gafford and Washington at the deadline marked a shift in their identity, with a newfound commitment to defense. While they couldn't overcome the Celtics, it's clear they have the potential to return to this stage. Led by the dynamic backcourt duo of Dončić and Irving, a few tweaks to the roster could get them back into title contention.

With Dončić and Irving being so ball dominant, it limits the potential fantasy production from the supporting cast. While Gafford defied expectations by finishing inside the top 40 in category formats, Lively proved to be the more versatile frontcourt option as Dallas moved deeper into the playoffs. Being Luka's preferred pick-and-roll lob threat certainly has its perks, but Gafford will likely be over-drafted because of his career year. I'm more excited about what Lively offers; there's a ton of upside given his skillset and tutelage from Tyson Chandler. Washington's stock remains relatively unchanged as a 10th-round player who will be a good source of 3s and stocks. — Dan Titus