Though they publicly stated they were not looking to be active before the Feb. 21 trade deadline, it appears the Dallas Mavericks have tossed their hat into the latest speculation.
Dallas has reportedly shown interest in Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein.
After a slow start with superstar Dirk Nowitzki recovering from off-season knee surgery, the 22-29 Mavericks are 5.5 games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and that could prompt owner Mark Cuban to perhaps pack the season in and prepare for this summer’s free agency or make a late playoff push.
Dallas had to rebuild their backcourt after the departures of Jason Kidd and Jason Terry, and thus far Darren Collison, and O.J. Mayo especially, have filled in quite well.
Jennings, who has publicly affirmed in the past his desire to play in a bigger market, is a restricted free agent this summer, and Milwaukee could decide to move him now, rather than wait for another team to outbid them on an offer sheet. The Mavs will have roughly $48 million in salary next season, which is plenty of space to extend Jennings's deal.
The 23-year-old was the Bucks first-round pick in 2009, and was the first American player to forgo college and play in Europe for a season prior to entering the NBA.
Despite his poor shooting, the Mavs could pair Jennings with Mayo for more of a scoring punch in their backcourt. Netting 18 points a game this season, Jennings is also tied for fifth in steals at 1.9 per contest, and could aide a Mavs defense ranked 28th in the league.
Milwaukee could have an estimated $30 million in cap room next year, which may go up if guard Monta Ellis declines his $11 million player option and tests the market. That would make it easier for the Bucks to sign Jennings to a maximum deal.
The Bucks currently hold the eighth seed in the East, and moving Jennings now could also hinder their playoff chances. Milwaukee last made the playoffs in 2006.
Since capturing the NBA title in 2010, Dallas has cleared tons of cap space, as evidenced by letting center Tyson Chandler go to the New York Knicks. Last summer, the Mavs made their pitch to now-Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams, but he passed.
Dallas is reportedly one of several teams, including Houston and Atlanta, that are expected to compete for center Dwight Howard this summer.