Eric Gordon for Davis Bertans
This trade sees Eric Gordon head to Dallas for Davis Bertans and a first-round pick. In a vacuum, this is an excellent trade for the Mavericks. They acquire an immensely valuable player for their current situation in exchange for a player who has played a grand total of 83 minutes this season. Bertans isn’t just a seldom-used player. He is also on a horrible contract. He is owed $17 million next season and $16 million in 2024-25.
The price for accomplishing such a move will be steep, and the Mavericks would need to send the Rockets one of their available first-round picks between 2027 and 2029. Why would the Rockets agree to be saddled with Bertans contract for one far-off first-round pick? The Mavericks may be horrible by then if Luka Doncic decides he has had enough, which is what makes this deal so complicated.
The Luka Doncic of it all
I don’t like playing the body language expert game. It’s silly, but sometimes it really is informative. Doncic is fed up. He’s being asked to do more than any player in the league and is singlehandedly dragging the Mavericks to mediocrity. Unfortunately, Doncic isn’t satisfied with mediocrity, which makes every decision the Mavericks make so consequential.
Is making the team marginally better this season worth hampering your ability to make larger improvements in the future? The way the Mavericks have operated the past two seasons, the answer is no, but that is subject to change. Once a bridge is burned, it’s gone, and the Mavericks’ inability to build a real contender around Doncic is metaphorically the same as loading a ton of C-4 onto a bridge and giving the guards a lifetime supply of roman candles.
The Mavericks are behaving as if there is no pressure to contend this season, but Doncic’s body language toward his teammates suggests he wants to win right now. The Mavericks are heading perilously towards a “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” situation. Eric Gordon isn’t going to push them into the championship conversation, but he will ease the immediate pressure that is building.