Over the last few weeks, many people around the NBA thought that Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks were working towards a long-term deal. With him more than likely making an All-NBA team, the deal will be a supermax 5 year, more than $200M.
But according to Tim Cato and Sam Amick of The Athletic, there is a “rift” within the Mavericks organization between Luka and the GM, Haralabos Voulgaris. It boils down to the team not having enough talent to all them to make that championship push, as they’ve failed to get Luka Doncic another running mate, and the team dramatically lacks depth.
If Luka were to leave Dallas, I think there are only three true options for him, whether it’s via trade or free agency in 2022.
1. New York Knicks
With the Knicks finally being able to have some sort of success this season, they might have become an attractive team to free agents, and getting Luka Doncic would be a HUGE stepping stone into the Knicks becoming a potential powerhouse in the NBA. They have a lot of young players like RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson or Kevin Knox would be starting points in trade negotiations.
They could also package a guy like Julius Randle, who would not fit next to Luka, as he does not play well off the ball. But would the Knicks have any true interest in Julius, as his stock dropped tremendously with his poor play in the playoffs?
2. Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics are in an interesting team. They have a budding star in Jayson Tatum and a good second guy in Jaylen Brown. The C’s have made a lot of moves since they lost to the star-studded Brooklyn Nets in the first round. Long-time President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge retired, and head coach Brad Stevens replaced him but gave up his coaching duties.
They’re currently looking for a new coach, and are looking to move on from both Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart. Would they be willing to possibly give up Jaylen Brown in order to pair Luka with Jayson Tatum? Would they do a sign and trade, giving up Kemba, Marcus Smart and draft picks?
If they go the Jaylen Brown trade route, they would not have to give up as many pieces and lack depth as other top-heavy teams (LA Lakers and Brooklyn Nets).
3. Miami Heat
Miami would not move off Duncan Robinson or Tyler Herro to get James Harden, so would they be willing to give them up for Luka? Or do they feel they have a shot on him in free agency?
Miami struggled this year after bringing back almost the same roster as they did in the 2020 Orlando Bubble. Jimmy Butler will be 32 by the start of next season, and he isn’t getting any younger. Luka would be a good piece to succeed and take the pressure off Jimmy Butler. You can go into the 2022 season with Luka, Butler, and Adebayo. They would have the appropriate cap space as well, as guys like Goran Dragic, Andre Iguodala, and Victor Oladipo would come off the books by 2022. The only downside is they might lack depth, and they do not have a first-round pick they can trade until the 2025 season.
Honorable mentions: LA Lakers, Toronto Raptors, Phoenix Suns