NBA

3 backup ball handlers for the Dallas Mavericks that would radicalize me

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We are in the absolute dregs of summer. The NBA offseason produced some truly jaw-dropping moments, namely the massive loot Minnesota unloaded for Rudy Gobert. And there’s electricity in the air as pundits and fans alike wait for a potential Kevin Durant trade to drop. But for Dallas fans? It’s hard.

Things got off to a bad start with breakout guard Jalen Brunson coming out for nothing and leaving a glaring hole in the ballhandler’s rotation. Spencer Dinwiddie will likely bear the brunt of those minutes, but the speculation that Dallas would look to strengthen this spot after Brunson’s exit has so far not been realized. This empty void on the roster just waiting to be filled is making the Maverick faithful truly desperate.

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It’s understandable. Necessity is the mother of invention. Beggars cannot choose. You can’t always get what you want. A number of platitudes apply to Dallas’ current roster stalemate. But here’s another one that I think is probably the most appropriate – hurt people, hurt people. This Maverick fan base, perhaps more than any other, bears some of the ugliest free agency scars in the league. It made us think that we should be happy with whatever we can get. I’m here to tell you that you can ask for more.

Here are three backup ball handlers whose addition to the list would make me completely wildcard.

Patrick Beverly

Stop asking for Patrick Beverley. You don’t want Patrick Beverley. No one should want Patrick Beverley. You think he had a pretty good streak with Minnesota and liked how emotional he was about claiming the 7th seed in the West. It’s a “you” problem.

Entering his 11th NBA season, the inimitable PBev is more of an internet meme factory troll than a viable NBA point guard. Apparently, his only reason for being isn’t so much to be a good basketball player per se, but simply to be as boring as possible. Having accomplished this, he is said to have had a good game.

What was once perhaps a good-natured playing spirit and “uncompromising” defensive edge has aged into petty feuds and spilling tea on ESPN after being kicked out of the playoffs. This airing of dirty laundry has undoubtedly rubbed some players the wrong way, and at least one – Damian Lillard – has said so publicly.

But that’s just the latest example of Patrick Beverley’s squeaky demeanor. In many ways, this PBev is still who we thought it was. And he’s a guy who constantly upset Luka Doncic from the bench for two straight years as a Clipper when the two teams met in the playoffs. Of course, Beverley has since given her flowers to Luka, calling him the hardest player to keep in the NBA, yadda yadda yadda.

I’m sure if you asked Luka he’d say there’s no bad blood, but look at the context. Dallas left Luka-friendly players like Salah Mejri, Boban Marjanovic and Jalen Brunson. They let his national team coach run away to Brooklyn. They have apparently REFUSED ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS to bring in Slovenian teammate and mentor Goran Dragic, despite being one of the only players in recent history to have outright said he would like to play in Dallas. Now you want to bring in one of the players that Luka has shown outward dislike for? And you want them to go to work together every day? How much is too much? Patrick Beverley, as a 31-year-old, 6’1″ point guard, simply doesn’t justify the baggage he brings to a roster.

Kemba walker

Walker is certainly a player with cachet. He was a former All-Star and had some great years in Charlotte. The question is how much of this All-Star caliber player still exists?

Over the past three seasons, Walker has played fewer and fewer games, bottoming out last season with just 37 games as a Knick; a weak career. And it’s not like the Knicks don’t need the point guard’s help. Walker simply fell out of head coach Tom Thibodeau’s rotation.

Now, if you, like me, don’t think much of Thibs as a head coach, there’s definitely an argument to be made that Kemba’s sideline was just bad practice. Walker made that case himself when, after being benched as a healthy scratch, team injuries and covid forced him back into a starting role.

Likely running on a supercharged sense of grudge and pride, he continued to come out and snag 44 points for the Washington Wizards. Definitely a raised eyebrow from a guy whose coach didn’t think he could play anymore. Nonetheless, it wasn’t long before Walker returned to the bench, and that’s where he remained for the final two months of the season.

The obvious knock against Walker would be his defense. He’s never been particularly beefy on that side of the ball at the best of times, and things haven’t improved as the 6-foot playmaker has just celebrated his 32nd birthday. The defensive responsibility of a Doncic/Walker backcourt is just too much to bear. Not to mention, after failing in their pursuit of Walker in 2019, adding another player years after their initial interest (a la Derrick Williams and DeAndre Jordan) just smacks of a pre-Nico front office move, and c is an era I think we should rightfully put in the rearview mirror.

Dennis Smith Jr.

Speaking of things in the rear view mirror.

See. Did I like Dennis Smith Jr as Maverick? Yes. Was he the victim of robbery TWICE during the NBA Dunk Contest? No question. Did he have a difficult road to success with Rick Carlise as coach and Luka Doncic as teammate? Sure. Does this constitute a return to this particular well? Unlikely.

As Smith Jr struggled to come to terms after his stint with the Knicks was unceremoniously ended and an unfortunate injury cut short his time in Portland, he spent his offseason working to prove he still belonged in the league. . I shoot for him. I am really. I even understand the romantic ideal of bringing the prodigal son home to “fix” all the potential DSJ showed during his time in Dallas. Jason Kidd is a different trainer from Rick Carlise. Dennis Smith Jr is a different player than his status as a top 10 draft pick allowed him. And, purely on a personal note, having both Dennis Smith Jr AND Frank Ntilikina on the roster — two players I liked for Dallas in that 2017 draft — seems like some sort of alternate universe that would have made the fan of the Mavs that I was 5 years ago in ecstasy.

Unfortunately, the NBA doesn’t operate according to the canonical utopia of your roster. It’s a brutal league that requires skill. The painful truth may well be that there is no achievable trade goal or free agent Dallas could add who would replace Jalen Brunson. That doesn’t mean they should just throw a big roster spot as important to any player in the draft. After all, they already have Christian Wood for it.

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