The Dallas Mavericks are now several days into training camp and have their first preseason game this week. With roster decisions to be made, it appears the Mavericks could be active over the next few weeks prior to the start of the regular season.
Marc Stein recently reported that the Mavericks explored trade options for guard Trey Burke earlier in the offseason in effort to clear a roster space for Frank Ntilikina.
Now that Ntilikina is signed and Burke is still on the roster, Dallas has 16 guaranteed contracts and will need to cut one of those prior to the start of the season or make a trade.
Burke is entering the second year of a three-year, nearly $9.5 million deal. With that in mind, cutting him now would be almost $6.5 million in salary to deal with.
According to Stein, Dallas is expected to continue to explore trade scenarios to try to address its roster overload. Who is the most likely player to be moved that’s currently on the roster?
The Mavericks have already looked into trading Burke, so he’s still certainly someone who could be on the move prior to the start of the season. An explosive scorer, he’s an excellent piece to have off of the bench.
However, if Dallas was looking to move off of him to bring in Ntilikina, it’s clear they’re prioritizing defense with some of their guards this season. With that in mind, another team could have the opportunity to acquire Burke and his scoring.
What makes things difficult is that Burke has still get to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
“That’s something that I’m actually talking to the coaches about right now,” Burke said at the start of training camp. “I feel like everybody has their own personal choice, and for me I’m just getting the proper knowledge and continuing to do more and more research to make a reasonable decision.”
While every player has their own choice, this will restrict him from playing in several markets this season where full vaccination is required to play in indoor events.
Last season with the Mavericks, Burke averaged 16.2 points per 36 minutes while shooting 35.4% from beyond the arc.
The Mavericks acquired Moses Brown as part of the Josh Richardson deal earlier this summer. A promising young prospect, he’s been spending a ton of time working with former Dallas center Tyson Chandler in training camp.
Brown spent last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder after being converted from his two-way contract and an excellent showing in the G League. Through 43 NBA games, he started in 32 and averaged 8.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game on the season.
One of the tallest players in the NBA, he’s got potential to become a solid defender at this level if he’s able to improve his footwork and quickness.
The 7-foot-2 center is certainly a player to keep an eye on over the next few weeks. He’s an interesting case with his partially-guaranteed deal, meaning that if Dallas really wanted to waive a player to get down to 15 players, Brown would be one of the cheapest options.
However, he’s a fascinating young prospect at 21 years old and is likely a player that would have trade interest around the league rather than being cut. Brown is still pretty raw as a player, but has the physical tools to be one of the better backup centers in the NBA one day.
Similar to Brown, Willie Cauley-Stein seems like a guy that could be on the move due to playing center. Based on the current roster, the Mavericks have roughly six players who play center as one of their primary positions.
In terms of balancing a roster, trading away a big might make the most sense.
Last season, he played in just 17.1 minutes per game, averaging 5.3 points and 4.5 rebounds. While he’s efficient in the minutes he gets, Cauley-Stein just doesn’t seem to be a starting caliber center in the NBA.
If a team around the league needs to add depth to the center position, he’s a quality backup big. Cauley-Stein brings a grit and toughness that teams desire. On a cheap, expiring deal at just $4.1 million this season, teams could acquire the big man from the Mavericks for a fairly low price.