Mark Cuban, two months ago, admitted his Dallas Mavericks needed a pass-first point guard, and they would acquire one by any means necessary.
Then, this happened:
This leaves Mavs fans with two questions: How bad do they want Ricky Rubio or Frank Ntilikina? And, if so, how likely are they to acquire them?
With the NBA Draft just days away, the eight picks ahead of the Mavericks are mostly settled, and should look like this
- Philadephia 76ers select Markelle Fultz
- Picks 2-5 are likely some varying order of De'Aaron Fox, Jayson Tatum, Josh Jackson, and Lonzo Ball, unless some major moves are made
Picks 6-10, which is where the Mavs reside (9th), is where it gets interesting.
The players most widely reported to be selected between 6 and 10 are Dennis Smith, Frank Ntilikina (who's current coach, Vincent Collet, will be coaching the Mavs summer league squad), Jonathon Isaac, Lauri Markkanen and Malik Monk.
Mike Fisher of 1053thefan.com says the Dallas front-office is all-in on Frank Ntilikina, so it can't hurt that his current coach is becoming involved in the organization. However, Fisher reported the Knicks are also high on the French point guard.
That leaves the Mavericks with few options: potentially try and set up a trade with the Orlando Magic or Minnesota Timberwolves - the teams picking 6th and 7th, respectively - or look elsewhere for their play-maker point guard.
Another issue: if they're looking to acquire Rubio, then a trade with the Timberwolves would likely include him and make drafting Ntilikina less-sensible.
So, do the Mavericks package their pick with a player like Dorian Finney-Smith or Yogi Ferrel to swap with the Magic to acquire Ntilikina?
Or, possibly trade both and maybe another player for Rubio? Rubio is a 26-year-old who's never averaged 15 point per game, but is a strong passer. However, his lack of defense likely means he'll never live up to his 5th overall selection in 2009 (he was picked ahead of Stephen Curry and DeMar Derozan).
That will be up to Donnie Nelson and Rick Carlisle, but if no moves are made, then the Mavs will likely be left with Markkanen and Monk to choose from - neither of which fill the team's immediate need.
Markkanen, a Finnish-born player with tons of upside, is very raw and wouldn't be expected to start - likely to watch and learn from Dirk, who he draws many comparisons to as a 7 foot European player with excellent shooting range.
Monk, another Kentucky one-and-done star with a quality jump shot of his own, is an undersized, but athletic, shooting guard. He definitely would not fit the mold as a "pass-first" point guard, if he slid down to the position, but his offensive potential could be enticing to the Mavericks.
There is the possibility that teams in the top five don't love their options and would prefer to have multiple draft picks over a top prospect, but the Mavericks lack a second round pick for the next two seasons due to trades for Nerlens Noel and Zaza Pachulia.
The team would likely have to feel very strongly to package this year's first round pick and nexts to slide up five or six spots. Maybe they do and Ntilikina is their guy.
Only time will tell and, come Thursday night, the Mavericks will be on the clock.