NBA Trade Rumors: Mavericks Make Surprising Deals on Busy Draft Night

The Mavericks picked Dereck Lively (center) with the No. 12 pick on Thursday at the NBA draft.

Getty The Mavericks picked Dereck Lively with the No. 12 pick on Thursday at the NBA draft.

NEW YORK — It’s not just that the Mavericks got the guy they wanted all along with their lottery pick here at the NBA draft on Thursday. Dallas was also able to score a major traded-player exception in a deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder, as they moved from No. 10 down to No. 12, sending out the contract of Davis Bertans as part of the trade.

Lively is an enticing prospect, but it is the $17 million TPE the Mavericks landed for moving Bertans that offered the most immediate impact in Dallas. Around the NBA, teams are scrambling to shed salary in fear of onerous new collective-bargaining rules, and the two-slot drop put the Mavs in the position to further bolster the roster.

The Mavs did just that by trading for Kings center Richaun Holmes and taking the No. 24 pick from Sacramento, where they were able to get defensive-minded wing Olivier-Maxence Prosper from Marquette. Holmes may not fit in the Mavs’ long-term plans but he could, at least, be a serviceable placeholder at center until Lively is ready.

Holmes was stellar in Sacramento three years ago, but has since plummeted from the team’s rotation. He averaged just 8.3 minutes in 42 games last season, and is slated to earn $24 million over the next two years.

Lively Compared to Tyson Chandler

But, additionally, the Mavericks got an intriguing prospect at No. 12 in Lively, who averaged just 5.2 points and 5.4 rebounds as a freshman at Duke last season. In 34 games, he took only 13 3-point tried, and made two of them.

He also averaged 2.4 blocks, and given his measurements—he is 7-foot-1 and 230 pounds—he has drawn comparisons to Mavs hero Tyson Chandler.

Lively showed in workouts, though, that he has the potential to move his game out to the perimeter, something he said his mother—former Penn State star Kathy Drysdale—encouraged him to do.

“Being able to have someone like that in that corner is something I’m grateful for,” Lively said, “knowing that she has my best interests in mind and that I could always bigger brain about something on the court and off the court that goes from if my forums right at my feet so or if I’m in the right position? Or how I should carry myself in that moving forward.”

Lively Could Be a Bigger Offensive Threat

Expect Lively to bring more of a floor-spacer’s mentality to his game in Dallas, then—a more modern version of Chandler, perhaps.

“That’s definitely something that’s going to be able to grow,” Lively told me. “It’s something I’ve always had. Just because I wasn’t able to excel at it or show it as much as I wanted to, that doesn’t mean I never had it. I’m just excited to hit the ground running and show everybody what I can do.”

ESPN draft analyst Jay Bilas said that the impressive thing about Lively’s game is that he is, at the very least, a top-shelf shot-blocker. But he can do a lot more as a scorer.

“I think Lively has the ability to be a much better offensive player, but even if he’s not, the floor is so high,” Bilas said. “Like I think he’s got a much higher ceiling now, and he had a high one coming out of high school. He would have been a top-5 pick coming out of high school, if they allowed that, but the fact that he had an up-and-down season because of injury sort of maybe set him back a little bit.  But you just can’t make up those measurables. When you see it, you’re like, all this defense and rebounding and rim protecting, it’s legit.”

We shall see, too, if Lively’s potential as a shooter is legit.

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