Will the third scorer join the Doncic-Irving tandem in Dallas?

Will the third scorer join the Doncic-Irving tandem in Dallas?

Re-signing Derrick Jones Jr. is the Mavericks’ top priority as the NBA kicks off free agency on Sunday at 5 p.m.

To do so, Dallas will likely use the $12.9 million mid-level non-tax exception to retain the two-way player who had a breakout year in his eighth season. The Mavericks can offer Jones a more lucrative contract thanks to Friday’s trade that netted Tim Hardaway Jr. was sent to Detroit.

But what happens if the Mavericks can’t keep Jones? That money will have to be used, and there are several players on the open market who could become options if Jones decides to go in a different direction.

Here are five impending free agents who could potentially sign for the mid-level exception and fill the Mavericks’ backcourt deficiencies and help with their outside shooting.

Saddiq Bey

Position: Small forward

Age: 25

Previous teams: Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons

Previous contract: 4 years, $13 million

The Hawks appear to be entering a transitional offseason after reportedly trading Dejounte Murray to the New Orleans Pelicans. According to ESPN, they also opted to offer Bey an $8.5 million qualifying offer. The fourth-year forward is coming off ACL surgery that cut short the final season of his rookie deal. When healthy, Bey can stretch the floor and is a solid rebounder for his size. He has career averages of 14.1 points and 5.2 rebounds per game on a 35% 3-point clip. The Mavericks need more shooting off the bench, and Bey could provide that if he’s willing to sign a one-year deal while he rehabs a torn ACL.

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Tobias Harris

Position: Small forward/force forward

Age: 31

Previous teams: Philadelphia 76ers, LA Clippers, Pistons, Orlando Magic, Milwaukee Bucks

Previous contract: 5 years, $180 million

One way to ensure the Mavericks have an additional scoring weapon is to find someone with experience as a third option on offense. Harris played third fiddle to Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey in Philadelphia, and the Mavericks are expected to have some interest in the veteran forward, according to Chris Haynes. Dallas needs someone who can create offense for himself and others in the same way that Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving do. Harris is still a productive player and could add a new dimension to the Mavericks on both sides of the ball.

Naji Marshall

Position: Small forward

Age: 26

Previous teams: Pelicans from New Orleans

Previous contract: 4 years, $5.3 million

One viable option to step into the role if Jones signs elsewhere is Marshall, who is set to enter free agency after four seasons with the Pelicans. He’s the prototypical 3-and-D wing that most teams would love to have on their roster. He averaged 7.1 points and 3.6 rebounds on a 38.7% 3-point clip this season, which is a career-high. He’s excelled as a catch-and-shoot 3-point threat, particularly from the corners. Marshall could fill a similar role in Dallas if the Mavericks can find a way to land him, especially since Irving and Doncic are drawing multiple defenders on a nightly basis. His ability to shut down shooters and keep ballhandlers in front of him also makes him a prominent threat on defense.

Klay Thompson

Position: Shooting guard/small forward

Age: 34

Previous teams: Golden State Warriors

Previous contract: 5 years, $189 million

The Mavericks made it to the NBA Finals with a number of players who had never before reached the postseason, let alone the final round of the playoffs. Targeting a four-time champion in Thompson, who will likely want to prove himself in his next contract, could be the piece that leads Dallas back to the Finals next season. Thompson is still capable of scoring and has never shot below 38% from 3 in his 12-year career. He will likely have several suitors if he does indeed choose to leave the Warriors – the only franchise he has ever played for. A move of this caliber would signal Harrison’s desire to ensure the Mavericks are championship contenders for the foreseeable future.

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Lonnie Walker

Position: Shooting guard

Age: 25

Previous teams: Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs

Previous contract: 1 year, $2.3 million

Jaden Hardy could have a breakout season next year if he gets the one chance to be a backup point guard. He has a natural talent for scoring and is willing to throw the lob to Dallas’ two big men, Daniel Gafford and Dereck Lively II. Another option in free agency could be Walker, who just had a season with the Nets. He averaged 9.7 points and shot 38% from beyond the arc in 58 games. He can create his own shot and make plays for others, which the Mavericks could use.

The former Spurs guard has become a veteran player over the past two seasons, but he had a productive stint with the Lakers. He exploded for 15 points in the fourth quarter of a playoff game, helping the Lakers beat the Warriors in Game 4 of last year’s second-round matchup. Walker also seems motivated to prove himself, as he shared a warning message on X on Saturday afternoon.

Twitter/X: @MikeACurtis2

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