7 recent events that show Rockets need a wake-up call

Celebrities Attend Atlanta Hawks v Houston Rockets
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2. Mavericks land Grant Williams from Celtics for pair of second-round picks

The Dallas Mavericks missed the playoffs (and even the play-in tournament) in 2023 and are seeking to avoid the fateful possibility that the Rockets eventually ran into: their superstar and franchise cornerstone asking for a trade. For as much as Luka Doncic and James Harden have been compared over the years for their playing styles on the court, they could be even more closely intertwined if Doncic eventually forces his way out of Dallas.

The Mavs added Kyrie Irving, who is a wild card off the court (to put it politely), but who also fared well in his stint in Dallas. In 20 games with the Mavs, Irving averaged 27 points, six assists, and five rebounds, while shooting 51 percent from the field, 39.2 percent from deep, and 94.7 percent from the charity stripe.

Yet the Mavs still missed the playoffs.

Mavs owner Mark Cuban surely doesn't want that to happen again, because talks of Luka's trade demand will only heat up. So Dallas added former Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams, for the small cost of two second-round picks (and a $6.2 million traded player exception).

In Williams, the Mavs are essentially replacing Dorian Finney-Smith, who they lost in the Irving trade. Williams is a much better spacer, as he made 39.5 percent of his treys last season (on a career-high 3.7 attempts).

Perhaps Williams isn't as great of a defender as DFS, but it's close enough for the Mavs. And especially for the cost of two second-round picks (and Reggie Bullock's $10.5 million expiring salary in 2023-24).