Following a two-horse race that culminated in an exciting seven-game series between the league’s two best teams, the Western Conference will once again try to load up to see who can beat Golden State. For some teams, that means landing a major piece to contend next season; for others, it’s all about building toward the future so that they can take the top spot once the Warriors’ dynasty is over. Here’s what each team in the West needs the most this offseason, other than for the Warriors to disappear.
Biggest need: A big man
Mark Cuban wants the Mavs to be the Celtics so badly. Dallas has walked the line between winning now and building a winner for later the past few seasons. And why not do both if you think you can? But Cuban should know by now how tough it is to pull off what Boston has since trading its franchise cornerstones to Brooklyn. There have been rumors that the Mavericks are willing to trade the fifth pick their dreadful season wrought them, and there have been rumors that they’re interested in bringing DeMarcus Cousins to Dallas. And look, I get it—you want to send Dirk Nowitzki off on a high note. But the Mavericks are already in a hole because of the team’s attempts to do that very thing. Wes Matthews will make more than $18 million next season, and Harrison Barnes is going to get nearly $50 million over the next two years. Dennis Smith Jr. is exciting, and there’s a good chance that he and whomever the Mavs take at no. 5—be it Mo Bamba, Michael Porter Jr., or someone else—could make for an exciting tandem for the years to come. There’s no need to throw that away to get a season of Cousins recovering from an Achilles injury.
Friendly suggestion: Pass on Cousins and sign Ed Davis or Dewayne Dedmon.