Whew, Thursday night was a nail-biter for the Dallas Mavericks. Led by Luka Doncic’s heroics (not one, but two threes to send the game to double OT), the Mavs squeaked out a win against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Now imagine, for a moment, a world where Doncic, who is shooting just 35% from three this season, didn’t have to take those late-game heaves. Wouldn’t it be nice for Dallas to be able to rely on a hotter hand? Or at least have the threatening presence of one out there on the floor?
Absolutely. And in a trade proposed by Dalton Trigg of dallasbasketball.com, the Mavs land that player in Bulls star Zach LaVine. But the trade comes at a cost: draining the team of significant future draft capital.
Mavs Receive: Zach LaVine, Andre Drummond
Bulls Receive: Caris LeVert, Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock, two future first-round picks, and two future first-round pick swaps
Cavs Receive: Tim Hardaway Jr., one second-round pick
This trade is the swing Dallas might need to take to elevate itself to the status of the Nuggets, Pelicans, and Grizzlies, all of which are leading the Western Conference. But given that the team would forego much of its future in this trade, it’s a swing the team can’t afford to miss (looking at you, Kristaps Porzingis).
Why the Mavericks Say Yes
As Trigg noted, throwing LaVine into the Mavs’ roster could add a significant “get out of jail free card” when Doncic’s shot isn’t falling.
“Having a supreme offensive talent like LaVine next to Doncic could help the Mavs avoid situations like they had on Tuesday night, as Doncic scored 20 of his team’s 23 fourth-quarter points in a 113-101 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers,” Trigg wrote.
But LaVine could also bolster a Mavs team whose three-point rate is league-average (16th). This is a team supposedly stacked with shooters like Tim Hardaway, Jr. and Josh Green, though the latter has missed time with an injury this season.
After a slow start, LaVine is shooting the daylights out of the ball. His true shooting percentage is up to 59% in a league where anything around 60% is gold. Since December 16, LaVine’s three-point shooting is up to 47%, which would instantly be the highest among any Mavs players who’ve appeared in at least five games this season.
It’s a salivating late-game proposition for the Mavericks: opposing defenses would have to pick their poison. They can send a double to a driving Doncic and let him feed an outlet pass to LaVine or deliver an assist to a cutting Christian Wood.
LaVine isn’t going to light up the stat sheet defensively, an area the 22nd-ranked Mavericks could use some help in. If Chicago did head for full blow-it-up mode (which it doesn’t seem like they are), perhaps the Mavs could entice the Bulls to send them Alex Caruso as well in a deal.
Mavs ‘Would Love’ to Add Caruso
On the Caruso front, Michael Pina of The Ringer connected the Mavericks with the former Lakers guard, noting his fit in the Lone Star State is a no-brainer.
“The Nuggets already have Bruce Brown, but they also can’t surround Jokic with too many defensive-minded guards,” Pina wrote. “The Mavs would love having him [Caruso] (Jason Kidd coached Caruso in Los Angeles) and he fits on both ends next to Luka Doncic (just as he did with LeBron a few years ago).”
Of course, add Dallas to a list of teams that includes . . . everyone! Caruso is the type of trade candidate made for playoff teams looking for that one piece to take them all the way.