Draft night has come and gone, but the urge to instantly evaluate the Mavericks’ performance remains. That doesn’t make such a review any less impossible, but it certainly adds noise to what should already make for an incredibly chaotic off-season.
If you’re in the minority who can accurately speak to the specifics in the games of Jared Cunningham, Bernard James, and Jae Crowder — much less the even more extreme minority who can feasibly predict how any of the above might pan out against NBA competition — then by all means: chatter away. But if you’re in the other, significantly larger camp, I suggest that you — and we — table our judgment. We have an entire off-season, the full run of summer league, a training camp, a preseason, and a good chunk of regular season competition to go before we can even begin to determine what each new Maverick is capable of — and that’s assuming that James and Crowder stick around to make the roster in the first place.
The point being: at this stage, we’re operating solely on glimpses and guesswork, and while the latter may be an inevitability in all efforts to estimate the talents of basketball prospects, the former can be remedied with a bit of patience and diligence. Dallas’ draft-night deal only needs to be evaluated immediately if we arbitrarily deem it so, when more realistically, we’ll have a clearer vision of what this trade meant in due time.
What we do know — with far more certainty — is that by way of trading Kelenna Azubuike to the Cavaliers in the exchange of the 17th pick for the 24th, 33rd, and 34th picks, Dallas has opened up approximately $1.4 million in cap space for the free agent cause (depending on Cunningham’s exact salary), and obtained the rights to two players without adding any cap holds for this summer. Even if James and Crowder don’t make the team this season, they won’t even bear the slightest financial limitation to the Mavs, making them precisely the kind of assets that Dallas needs at this particular point in time. The spotlight is rightfully on free agency, and by the time we clear July’s mayhem, the Mavericks may very well be in need of affordable players to fill out the roster. The acquisition of multiple second round picks — at only the cost of moving from 17 to 24 in the first round — set Dallas up perfectly for that possibility.