Mavericks Among Teams ‘Most Engaged’ for Defensive Upgrade Amid Two-Game Skid

Luka Doncic Dallas Mavericks

Getty Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks.

Back-to-back losses against the Portland Trailblazers have exposed a glaring weakness for the Dallas Mavericks. With Dwight Powell out, the team lacks a defense anchor at the five, evidenced in Dallas coughing up 96 points in the paint across two games against the Blazers.

Christian Wood, the team’s go-to center, is a great offensive option, especially alongside Luka Doncic. But defensively, he’s getting ripped apart, often losing assignments or struggling to keep attacking players in front.

As a result, it’s no surprise the Mavs are targeting a rim runner ahead of the trade deadline next month. According to James L. Edwards III of The Athletic, the Mavericks are among a handful of teams that are highly interested in Nerlens Noel of the Detroit Pistons.

“Per league sources, the teams most engaged in talks with the Pistons about Noel to date are the Miami Heat, Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks,” Edwards III wrote.

Though not known for his rebounding, Noel excels generally on defense. His blocks and steals rate rank among the NBA’s elite, according to Cleaning the Glass. The former lottery pick could be a nice option off the bench, with JaVale McGee out of the lineup for performance purposes and Powell out with injury.

Mavericks Interested in Noel Teammate?

With the Mavs perilously close to losing ground in the Western Conference, it’s not surprising that the Mavericks are looking at infusing the roster with some fresh blood.

A clear example of that “fresh blood” that Dallas is interested in: Bojan Bogdanovic of the Detroit Pistons. According to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, the Mavericks are interested in acquiring the elite scorer’s services.

“The Dallas Mavericks are on the list (of teams interested in Bogdanovic), but one source said the Pistons would demand the Mavericks’ 2027 first-round pick (probably with a player like Davis Bertans, whose contract isn’t pretty),” Pincus wrote.

Bogdanovic would thrive in Dallas’ lineup. He’s shooting 42% from three this season, which would be the second-best mark on Dallas’ roster among players who’ve appeared in at least five games. His ability to space the floor could further unlock players like Doncic and Wood, giving the former a nice outlet in pick and rolls.

The only snag? The Pistons are apparently looking for an unprotected first-round pick at minimum in exchange for Bogdanovic, per Edwards III. Do the Mavericks really want to fork over more draft capital when that very issue is still haunting the team from the Kristaps Porzingis trade?

Could Dallas Offer an Alternative for Bogdanovic?

What if the Mavs get crafty, looping a third team into a potential Bogdanovic deal? After all, the Cavaliers have at least explored the idea of bringing Tim Hardaway, Jr. to Lake Erie, making Cleveland a potential trade partner to bring into Bogdanovic negotiations.

A recent trade proposed by Dalton Trigg of solves all of those trade puzzles, netting the Mavs Bogdanovic in return for Frank Ntilikina and Hardaway, Jr., cutting Dallas’ wing depth in half in the process. Here’s what Trigg suggested:

Mavericks Receive: Bojan Bogdanovic

Cavaliers Receive: Tim Hardaway Jr.

Pistons Receive: Caris LeVert, Frank Ntilikina, two second-round picks

Hardaway’s departure should open the floodgates for Dallas’ youth to thrive. Third-year wing Josh Green has blossomed this season (though he’s struggling with injury at the moment). And rookie Jaden Hardy, once a top-high school recruit, could be given more responsibility with an open spot.

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