Mark Cuban Defends Mavericks’ Move for Free Agent Kemba Walker

Luka Doncic Dallas Mavericks

Getty Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

The most wonderful time of the (NBA) year began in earnest this week when the Dallas Mavericks agreed to a deal with free agent point guard and former All-Star Kemba Walker. It wasn’t a blockbuster by any means — Walker was waived by the lowly Detroit Pistons before agreeing to a non-guaranteed one year deal with the Mavs, as reported by former Dallas Morning News writer Marc Stein.

Given Walker’s recent injury history and struggles with both the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks, not everyone was immediately impressed by the free agency addition. But on Monday, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban doubled down on the move, explaining why Walker has a chance to thrive in Dallas.

“We wanted to add some flexibility to our offense. Like last year at this point, we have great shot quality, particularly from the 3, but we have struggled to make enough of them. Kemba will give J-Kidd more offensive flexibility,” Cuban told Dallas Morning News reporter Brad Townsend.

How Will the Mavericks Use Walker?

By this point, pointing out that Luka Doncic is being overworked is old hat. But the fact remains: Doncic leads the league in usage rate by a long shot; Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is in second, is nearly three percentage points lower than Doncic’s.

Part of that is the fact that Doncic is a transcendent talent whose skill necessitates the offense running through him. Part of it though is something else entirely. Before signing Walker, the Mavs had just one true point guard: Doncic. Spencer Dinwiddie, Facundo Campazzo, and Frank Ntilikina are also technically guards, but Campazzo was waived for Walker and Ntilikina has played a whopping 20 minutes this season.

At his peak, Walker was a dynamic, fleet-footed playmaker who kept defenses honest beyond the arc. Back in 2018-19, for instance, he managed a career-high 25.6 points and nearly six assists per game. Yet in the three years since, Walker’s played in just 55 percent of his teams’ games, often missing time due to nagging injuries. In fact, he’s yet to play this season, though that’s been more a factor of Detroit’s focus on a younger roster than any injury concerns.

And then there’s the defense. Suffice it to say that Walker has never been a real two-way threat as a point guard. While Walker was a decent defensive point guard for the Charlotte Hornets six-ish years ago, he’s been in the bottom half of the league in steals rate ever since. Fortunately, Dallas is currently fourth in the league in steals, but still boasts a defensive rating that is just outside the top 10.

Mavs Had Eyes on Walker for ‘Couple of Weeks’

The Mavs’ deal for Walker was the culmination of “weeks” of preparation. Townsend, who relayed the news, even likened Walker’s deal to one in the works for a particular Dallas Cowboys free agency target.

“I’m told the Mavs have had Kemba Walker as a back-burner option for at least a couple of weeks. Interestingly to some of us here in DFW, not entirely unlike the Cowboys have monitored adding similarly knee-questionable Odell Beckham Jr., who also might well sign this week,” Townsend tweeted.




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