The NBA Mailbag is back and it doesn’t bring good news for the Mavs, Wizards and Wolves: all three teams made signings over the summer that they may already be regretting. Also included: What could an NBA look like without a salary cap?
NBA Mailbag: These teams regret their offseason deals
SPOX user hesitation: Which teams would like to revise their offseason decisions?
The obvious answer is: the Timberwolves. In Minneapolis there is a mood of doom, after only 15 games the tree is burning in the far north of the USA despite an actually easy game plan and great ambitions.
Anthony Edwards is more noticeable with questionable body language and public criticism of the game than with his basketball skills. The new Twin Towers Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert are in their own way, the Wolves are still looking for a system that works for all parties. But that can still come. It’s too early to write off the Wolves for this season.
It was already clear in the summer why the Gobert trade still hurts. Minnesota paid an unbelievable price (five players and four first-round picks plus pick swap), and the Wolves will regret the included picks in the long term. In the short term, the Wolves are also missing Patrick Beverley as a leader.
The catastrophe called the 2022/23 season can still be averted, but the long-term catastrophe risked by trading for a 30-year-old center with known vulnerabilities hangs like a dark cloud over the franchise. The start of the season has by no means helped to wipe these worries aside. But the Wolves and their problems have already been discussed in detail elsewhere. Which teams still have regrets?
DALLAS MAVERICKS: JAVALE MCGEE
The center’s signing was the Mavericks’ most important free agency signing and the second most important offseason move behind the trade for Christian Wood. The latter has had an overall promising start to his Mavs career, but McGee’s signing has been a disaster so far. It may sound exaggerated after 14 games, but the 34-year-old hasn’t shown anything to justify a different testimonial.
Already in the summer, many Mavs fans were critical of the center’s commitment, the argument of the franchise should have looked something like this: McGee was one of the better backups in the league in Phoenix last season, he brings a new presence in the zone, he can do it Protect the ring and turn passes into smashing dunks as rim-runner Luka Doncic up front. Championship experience (though mostly in a small role) is also present. That’s the theory.
In practice, however, McGee has not arrived in Dallas at all. In ten appearances he was on the court for a total of 94 minutes – Dallas lost these minutes with -31, by far the worst plus/minus value in the team. Advanced stats go in the same direction: With him, Mavs offense is 22 points worse per 100 ball possessions than without him.
A chemistry with Doncic in Pick’n’Roll was rarely seen, the hoped-for athleticism in the zone can also only be seen rudimentarily. Even Doncic sometimes seems more annoyed than anything judging by his body language at Wilden McGee turnovers or -misses want to overinterpret.
JaVale McGee on the Mavs: His real strength is a weakness
And defensively? McGee should be an upgrade primarily in his own half, after all, opposing teams at his stations have done significantly worse at the ring in recent years when McGee got in the way than without him. Noisy cleaning the glass the opposite is the case in 2022/23. Opponents even score 4.1 percentage points better with McGee on the court in the immediate vicinity of the ring than when Dallas defends without him. In general, only six teams allow an opponent’s ringside shot rate to be worse than the Mavs (67.9 percent).
In addition to his three-year, $17.2 million contract, the Big Man received a promise to get the starter role in Dallas. Even at the end of October, when McGee’s first appearances did not bode well, head coach Jason Kidd emphasized that the team and the coaching staff believe in the center and will stick with him as a starter. The starting five with McGee have a net rating of -18.6 in 62 minutes.
Just two games later, Kidd apparently changed his mind. Against the Raptors in early November, McGee only came off the bench. In the next game against Brooklyn, he moved back into the starting five, but only played 3 minutes. A few days ago there was even a DNP – Coach’s Decision – against Portland, he is currently missing due to a neck injury. Ultimately, however, Kidd and the Mavs have now accepted: McGee is unplayable in the current form, Dwight Powell, from whom McGee should actually take playing time, is the much better option.
It’s all costing the Mavs $5.5 million this season. In itself not a dramatic amount, but McGee’s contract runs for three years, for the last contract year 2024/25 he has a player option of $ 6 million. Then he is 36 years old. Due to the limited financial flexibility, the Taxpayer Midlevel Exception was the Mavs’ primary tool to attract reinforcements in the summer – as of now, that has been given away.
After all, a positive interim conclusion can be drawn for the wood trade so far, the rest of the Mavs offseason was – as feared in the summer – a failure. Not just because of McGee, but also because of Jalen Brunson’s departure. Dallas failed to get a replacement, now even Kidd has admitted guard rotation is a weak point. It’s quite possible that the front office will bite your ass for not hitting Goran Dragic after all. The Doncic buddy is currently showing in Chicago at least that he still has a lot in the tank.