2026 first-round pick (Top-5 Protected)
Dallas carries the league's last unblemished record into Friday night, which is remarkable for myriad reasons, not the least of which is the fact Kyrie Irving missed two of the team's first four games and wasn't especially efficient in the ones he played. But with Luka Dončić playing at an MVP level, Grant Williams making his case as the offseason's biggest steal and Dereck Lively II filling the void on the interior, the Mavs have had enough to make mincemeat of their early competition.
Still, it's fair—and arguably advisable—to wonder whether this team has enough defense to compete at the highest level. That's been the concern since Dallas first linked Dončić and Irving at last season's trade deadline, and nothing that has happened so far suggests that worry has gone away. The Mavs sit just 19th in defensive efficiency, which history has typically held as being nowhere near stingy enough to contend for the crown.
That's why a reunion with Finney-Smith—one of the primary pieces in that Irving exchange—could be in the works. He is an all-purpose stopper with the kind of low-maintenance, catch-and-shoot-heavy offensive game that would fit perfectly with Dallas' high-scoring guards. He's also perhaps expendable on a wing-heavy Brooklyn team that isn't quite ready to contend.
If the Nets move on from Finney-Smith, the goal would be getting assets to either keep and develop down the line or maybe deal away sooner if this core plays well enough to justify such an acceleration. They'd get two good ones in this swap with a lightly protected first and Hardy.
There would be some overlap between Hardy and Cam Thomas—two scoring guards without a lot of size—but Brooklyn's need for self-sufficient scorers is great enough to at least see if they can coexist. The Nets have been just a 28th percentile offense on isolation plays, so they could use more off-the-dribble zip. Holmes would merely make the money work, but he could be useful as an emergency backup big.