NBA Trade Rumors: Mavericks Could Acquire Al Horford For Powell, Johnson & 'Low-Level Sweeteners'

Al Horford of the Oklahoma City Thunder shooting the ball
Gettyimages | Stacy Revere
Basketball

After showing lots of promise last year, the Dallas Mavericks have struggled in the first half of the 2020-21 NBA season. As of now, they are out of the playoff race, sitting in the No. 9 spot in the Western Conference with a 16-16 record. The Mavericks may be slowly regaining their rhythm and starting to climb the rankings, but if they are serious about making noise in the loaded West this year, they might have to consider improving their supporting cast around Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis before the 2021 trade deadline.

Al Horford To Mavericks

 Al Horford of the Oklahoma CIty Thunder protecting the ball against the Brooklyn Nets
Gettyimages | Sarah Stier

According to Dan Favale of Bleacher Report, one of the low-cost trade targets for the Mavericks this season is veteran center Al Horford of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Trading for Horford could be a huge gamble for the Mavericks. He's already on the downside of his career and is owed an enormous amount of money over the next two years. 

However, if the Thunder won't demand precious assets in exchange for the veteran big man and would be willing to move him just for the sake of cutting long-term costs, bringing Horford to Dallas might make a lot of sense for the Mavericks.

Trade Package To Acquire Al Horford

Al Horford, then playing for the Philadelphia 76ers, reacts to a bad call
Gettyimages | Katelyn Mulcahy

According to Favale, the Mavericks could acquire Horford from the Thunder by offering them a package built around Dwight Powell. By using Powell as their main trade chip, Dallas could add Horford to their roster while maintaining some salary-cap flexibility in the 2021 free agency period. 

In the proposed scenario,  the Mavericks would be sending Powell, James Johnson's expiring contract, and some "low-level sweeteners" to Oklahoma City in exchange for Horford. Though they might prefer to acquire a future first-round pick, a couple of future second-rounders may be enough to convince the Thunder to make a deal.

Al Horford Still Has Plenty Of Gas Left In His Tank

Al Horford, then with the Philadelphia 76ers, dribbling the ball
Gettyimages | Mitchell Leff

Horford may no longer be in his prime, but he could still be a great addition to an aspiring contender like the Mavericks. His arrival in Dallas could help them improve their offensive and defensive efficiency, which respectively ranks 11th and 26th in the league, according to ESPN. He could give them a defensive-minded big man who is a very reliable scoring option under the basket, a great rebounder, facilitator, and floor-spacer.  

This season, the 34-year-old center is averaging 14.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 3.6 assists while shooting 44.3 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from beyond the arc, per ESPN.

Al Horford-Kristaps Porzingis Frontcourt Duo Could Work

Al Horford, then playing for the Boston Celtics, guards then-New York Knicks big man Kristaps Porzingis.
Gettyimages | Maddie Meyer

Horford may have struggled to fit alongside Joel Embiid on the Philadelphia 76ers, but it doesn't necessarily mean that the same thing would happen if he shares the Mavericks' frontcourt with Porzingis.

"Running out two bigs in the frontcourt is seldom workable. Horford knows this all too well after last season in Philly," Favale wrote. "But Porzingis isn't Joel Embiid. He is almost exclusively a pick-and-pop option. Dallas doesn't need to worry about them occupying the same space as often and can still play five-out when they're both in the game. Staggering them guarantees Dallas will never have a below-average 5 on the court."