After yet another first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers, changes have to be coming for the Dallas Mavericks. Superstar guard Luka Doncic can’t do it all on his own, and after a disappointing postseason, Mavericks trade rumors are rampant.
One such trade rumor involves a “Raptors reunion” in Dallas with former Toronto teammates DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry joining Doncic to create a new look Mavericks team. The questions are, is this possible, and how would the pair fit in with the 2021-22 Mavericks?
DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry were teammates on Toronto Raptors for six seasons
The Toronto Raptors selected DeRozan out of USC with the No. 9 overall pick of the 2009 NBA draft. Lowry was the No. 24 overall selection of the 2006 draft by the Memphis Grizzlies. In the offseason leading into the 2012-13 season, the Raptors traded for Lowry. The then-Houston Rockets guard went to Toronto for forward Gary Forbes and a protected first-round pick, per ESPN.
North of the border, DeRozan and Lowry formed a formidable duo. They led the organization to five consecutive playoff appearances, starting in their second season together. In the 2015-16 season, they reached the Eastern Conference Finals, losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games.
In the 2018 offseason, the Raptors traded DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs for disgruntled star Kawhi Leonard. DeRozan flourished statistically, averaging more points (21.6), assists (6.2), and rebounds (5.3) than he did in Toronto. However, the Raptors got the best of the deal as Kawhi Leonard, now teamed with Lowry, won the 2019 NBA Championship.
DeRozan and Lowry are both 2021 NBA free agents and the Mavericks could get them both
As the Dallas Mavericks look to put a different supporting cast around Doncic after losing to the Clippers again, there are several other options. On a recent episode of SI’s The Mavs Step Back Podcast, “Upgrading The Mavericks” episode, the hosts suggested a “Raptors reunion” in Dallas. This is possible because both DeRozan and Lowry are unrestricted free agents in the offseason.
Is it financially feasible for the Mavs to sign both players? With a bit of maneuvering, the answer is yes.
The Mavs are currently at $90.9 million in committed salary, which, according to spotrac, gives the team $9.6 million in practical cap space heading into the season. If the team declines Willie Cauley-Stein’s $4.1 million team option and Josh Richardson declines his $11.6 million player option, that would create $25.3 million in cap room to win the DeMar DeRozan free agency battle with a deal near last season’s $27.7 million number.
To get Lowry out of Toronto and back with DeRozan, it could be a little more complicated but still very doable. The former Villanova point guard made $30 last year, so the Mavs would need to execute a sign-and-trade deal with the Raptors to get him.
After the Mavs (hypothetically) sign DeRozan, they can resign Tim Hardaway Jr. for $28 million in 2021 if they want because they can go over the cap as the owner of Hardaway Jr.’s Bird Rights. That would give them two different players making close enough to $30 million to match salaries with Lowry in a sign and trade – Hardaway Jr. and the unhappy Kristaps Porzingis.
Lowry would likely have to tell Toronto he wants to go to Dallas for them to accept one of those offers but, if the option is Hardaway Jr./Porzingis or nothing, the Raptors would probably take the deal.
How would DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry fit with Luka Doncic?
There are several things Dallas needs to accomplish with a trade to upgrade Doncic’s supporting cast. They need to find a reliable second scorer, take the ball out of Doncic’s hands – where it is on almost every possession currently – and find a star (or two) who can be on Doncic’s level but not compete with him for the spotlight like Porzingis is trying to do.
When the whistle blows, DeRozan and Lowry are perfect fits for the Mavericks. DeRozan is a 20-point-per-game scorer who can be a dangerous second option when Doncic is on the floor and carry the offense when he’s on the bench. He’s the rich man’s Hardaway Jr.
Lowry can share the ball-handling duties with Doncic to give the 6-foot-7 Slovenian’s body a rest. He can also be a tenacious defender to make up for Doncic’s deficiencies there, and he can spot up when he’s not on the ball. In the 2020-21 season, Lowry shot a near-career best 39.6% from 3-point range, only eclipsed by his 41.2% and 39.9% seasons in 2016-17 and 2017-18, respectively.
DeRozan and Lowry are both well-established NBA stars. They have enough stature that Doncic should respect them but are well-known and old enough to not compete for the 22-year-old’s shine.
The best part of the fit with the ex-Raptors and Doncic would be if the Mavericks could get rid of Porzingis in the process. The two European stars reportedly don’t get along well, and removing the lesser of the two stars could be a big win for team chemistry.