As the Dallas Mavericks likely look to get out of the financial mess they made, they are exploring trade scenarios for Josh Richardson in order to shed a bit of salary against the cap, per Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer.
The wing has a player option for the 2021-22 season where he’s set to make $11.6 million in the final year of a four-year deal that started with the Miami Heat. Dallas picked up the 27-year-old in a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, who acquired him from Miami.
Richardson has underperformed in his last two seasons, so unless a team surprisingly offers more in free agency, you can bet he’ll opt in and force Dallas to find a suitor.
In that case, the Boston Celtics — at the very least — should inquire.
After being drafted 40th overall in the second round of the NBA draft, Richardson totally exceeded expectations and earned a reputation as an analytics darling. He signed a team-friendly extension after two years in the NBA, with the financials indicative of how crunched Miami and many other teams were by the salary cap not increasing that year.
That bodes well for Boston, who certainly could afford him if they moved some things around. Not to mention, he could be a good fit.
The 6-foot-6 wing’s handle gives Boston a good ballhandler who could address the Celtics glaring needs, with just Marcus Smart, Payton Pritchard and Tremont Waters in the backcourt. They clearly need a point guard, and Richardson is a really long and athletic one who can defend at a high level and score.
In addition to that, Boston’s defense would benefit immensely from another solid defensive guard playing in a contract year with a lot to prove.
Smart also is in the last year of his deal. If the Celtics plan to trade him before he hits free agency, the sad but real truth is Boston could get a free look at a two-way player like Richardson to replace him.
The expiring deal would be low risk for the Celtics, and with all things considered for who is available, this seems like a conversation worth having.
Of course, it must mutually benefit the Mavericks, and with the Celtics’ cap restraints, it will have to be salary in, salary out. Looking at Boston’s payroll and Dallas’ needs, a straight-up Richardson for Tristan Thompson deal not only makes sense, but works in the trade machine, too.
Thompson makes almost $2 million less than Richardson next year, and would be a better fit in Dallas. Predominantly because the Mavericks don’t exactly have a serviceable center on its roster, as Boban Marjanovic weighs a player option, Nicolò Melli returns to Europe and Dwight Powell deals with a torn Achilles.
Sure, Richardson could underperform again, but he also could thrive in the Celtics system while motivated to earn a new deal.
Ime Udoka has coached him. Al Horford has played with him, too. The Celtics’ new coach and veteran big can give president of basketball operations Brad Stevens their honest evaluations based on their time with Richardson and the 76ers. Go from there.
That is, as long as Richardson opts in with the Mavericks and they opt out from him.