Mavericks Dodge Bullet by Not Trading for Former NBA Champ

Wiggins' challenging season impacts team dynamics and playoff prospects.

by Faizan Chaudhary
Mavericks Dodge Bullet by Not Trading for Former NBA Champ
© Megan Briggs/Getty Images

In a strategic maneuver at this year's bustling NBA trade deadline, the Dallas Mavericks made calculated moves to fortify their roster, securing a commendable fifth seed in the Western Conference as they head into the 2024 playoffs.

Amid speculation and potential blockbuster deals, Dallas opted to enhance its frontcourt by acquiring P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford. This decision not only bolstered their defense, rebounding, and physicality but also positioned them as one of the trade deadline's definitive winners.

However, the Mavericks' most significant victory may have come from a deal they didn't make. Early in the season, Dallas showed interest in Golden State Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins, a key player in the Warriors' 2021-22 championship run.

Wiggins, known for his vital role during the NBA Finals, where he averaged 18.3 points and led with 8.8 rebounds per game, was seen as a potential asset to the Mavericks’ lineup.

Wiggins' Seasonal Struggles

Despite his past achievements, Wiggins faced challenges in the 2023-24 season.

His performance notably dipped, falling short of his previously set standards. Additionally, Wiggins took a leave of absence for personal reasons during the season, repeating a pattern from the previous year. This absence could have disrupted team dynamics—a risk the Mavericks could ill afford as they pursued higher seeding in the playoffs.

His return was less than stellar, culminating in a disappointing Play-In Tournament performance where he scored merely 12 points and registered a game-worst minus-25 plus-minus, contributing to the Warriors' early playoff exit.

By steering clear of trading for Wiggins, the Mavericks averted potential disruption and preserved their team chemistry, crucial for their playoff aspirations. This decision underscores the front office's acumen in making prudent choices—not just in acquiring talent but also in recognizing when a player may not fit their strategic framework.

Dallas’ discernment was similarly evident last offseason when they chose not to pursue another high-stakes trade for former number one pick Deandre Ayton, who was also considered overpriced. These decisions, characterized by restraint and foresight, have contributed to a solid team foundation that promises competitive play as the Mavericks enter the playoffs with enhanced team synergy and a robust lineup.

The Dallas Mavericks' approach at the trade deadline reflects a deep understanding of team dynamics and long-term strategy, suggesting that sometimes the best move is the one you don't make. As they prepare for their first-round matchup against the LA Clippers, the benefits of their decisions are poised to manifest on the playoff stage, where team cohesion and strategic acquisitions often dictate success.