In a game against the Golden State Warriors on Jan. 25, the Dallas Mavericks were blown out by 38 points. While it was a frustrating loss for the Mavs, what’s worse is that they lost a key piece in Tim Hardaway Jr. to injury.
The Mavericks announced that Hardaway Jr. suffered a fracture of the fifth metatarsal on his left foot. While it’s still unclear exactly how long he’ll be sidelined, an injury like this could potentially keep him out for several weeks.
In the second quarter of that game, Hardaway Jr. went down awkwardly after driving to the rim and immediately grabbed his foot in pain. From there, he ultimately took his free throw attempts after being fouled but then had to be helped off the court.
“That’s just bad luck,” Luka Doncic said postgame. “I talked to him. He’s disappointed. Every time you get injured you are sad, so we tried to cheer him up.”
This is a brutal blow for the Mavericks, who had really started to hit their stride. They had won 11 of their last 13 games prior to this contest against the Warriors and were one of the hottest teams in the NBA.
What does this mean for the Mavericks going forward?
Active Trade Deadline?
As great as the Mavs were playing prior to this injury, they didn’t necessarily need to make a major splash at the Feb. 10 trade deadline. While it’s always a priority to ensure you have the best possible roster, Dallas could have gotten away with only making a small deal or even keeping the same roster.
Now, the Hardaway Jr. injury changes everything. If the Mavericks are going to continue pushing for a higher seed in the Western Conference standings, they’ll need to close the season strong. With only 34 games remaining in their season, there’s a chance they’ll be without Hardaway Jr. for at least half of those.
While there’s no need to panic and make an impulse trade over the next two weeks, this could result in a mindset shift for the Dallas front office. Could they be more aggressive if the right opportunity presents itself?
There’s certainly a chance, especially if there’s more sellers than buyers at the deadline. Depending on how the market shakes out, Dallas could ultimately make one of the biggest splashes before the final stretch of the season.
In the first season of a four-year, $75 million contract in Dallas, Hardaway Jr. has played well up to this point. Known for being a legitimate scorer, he’s been great for the Mavs both as a starter and off the bench.
During his 2021-22 campaign, the 29-year-old has averaged 14.3 points per game while shooting 33.6% from beyond the arc. While those numbers are both down from last season, he’s still a microwave scorer for the Mavs and a key piece of their core.
Last season in the playoffs, he proved to be one of the most important players on the entire roster.
In his absence for the foreseeable future, Jalen Brunson will need to continue stepping up. He recently earned the starting job alongside Doncic in the backcourt, but will need to get even better for the Mavericks to replace Hardaway Jr.’s scoring.
Additionally, Reggie Bullock could be a huge piece for Dallas moving forward. The largest free agent signing they made last summer, the Mavs will lean heavily on his scoring and perimeter shooting off the bench while Hardaway Jr. is out.
It’s never easy to replace a guy of his caliber, but Brunson and Bullock will have to do their best. The Mavericks are currently 27-21, good for fifth in the Western Conference.