Dallas Mavericks Pay Luka Doncic But Can They Afford To Win?

Luka Doncic | photo from Sports Illustrated

It was clear that the Dallas Mavericks had high hopes for Luka Doncic when they traded the draft rights to Trae Young and a protected future first-round pick to acquire him. In just three years, he has made the Mavericks and their fans very happy with the trade.

It sounds like the Mavericks have shown him just how happy they are by offering him an unprecedented contract extension. Since Doncic has been voted to the All-NBA first team twice, he is eligible for the supermax rookie extension, which is worth $207 million over the next five years.

“Today is a dream come true,” Doncic said regarding the extension in a statement to ESPN. “The game of basketball has given me so much and has taken me to so many amazing places. I am humbled and excited to remain in Dallas as part of the Mavericks.”

He went on to talk about his commitment to the team, how appreciative he is of the fans, and his desire to do more through the Luka Doncic Foundation.

The impact he has made on the franchise is unmistakable. In the two seasons prior to acquiring Doncic, the Mavericks had gone 57-107, winning roughly 40 percent of their games in 2016-17 and just 29 percent the following season.

In his rookie campaign, in which he won Rookie of the Year honors, the team improved to 33-49, though they missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season. Doncic’s play was not only good enough to win ROY but to see him open as the favorite at many sportsbooks to win NBA MVP the following season.

Coincidentally, many sportsbooks had him open as the favorite for the 2021-22 season.

With the contract he signed, fans will no longer marvel at how well he plays. They will expect him to play even better to prove he deserves to make $40+ million a season. Getting the team back to the playoffs will help, but it remains to be seen if the roster around him is good enough for the team to break past the first round (where they lost to the Los Angeles Clippers the last two seasons).

To that end, many expected the team to make a serious effort to bring in another scoring threat to take some of the burden off Doncic. While the rumor mill had the Mavericks tied to several high-profile free agents, the most significant addition made was Reggie Bullock.

Bullock played for the New York Knicks last season, where he averaged 10.9 points a game.

That means the team’s hopes for a legitimate second threat now rest with new head coach Jason Kidd figuring out how to get more out of Kristaps Porzingas.

Dallas acquired Porzingas via trade from the Knicks back in 2019. They signed him to a max extension, thinking he could be a cornerstone of the team going forward. But so far, his play has disappointed. If Porzingas struggles again, the Mavericks may have to trade him to clear up enough cap room to sign a star free agent next offseason.

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