5. Luka Doncic
The clock is ticking on the Dallas Mavericks. Luka Doncic can become a free agent in 2026, giving Dallas two or three more years to prove that they can build a contender around him. Last season’s decision to trade for Kyrie Irving didn’t lead to immediate dividends and the Mavs finished outside of the playoffs with 38 wins. Another disappointing season could put Dallas in a tough spot.
The Mavs re-signed Irving and added Grant Williams this offseason, but will that be enough to compete with teams like the Denver Nuggets, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers? Luka is just 24 and is coming off a season in which he averaged 32 points. He’s a nightly triple-double watch and among the league’s best scorers. There’s no question that he will be one of the league’s best players for the next decade. Should his contract expire without an extension in 2026, he’d be the biggest free agent since Kevin Durant in 2016. Yes, the Heat are projected to have cap space.
But if Luka demands a trade before then, he’ll also be the biggest trade target in recent NBA history. Championship-level scorers on the doorstep of their prime don’t become available often. The Mavericks would be swarmed with offers and it’s unclear if the Heat could offer anything worth consideration. The best chance might be to wait and hope Luka decides to explore free agency in 2026. By then, the Heat could be ready to move on to the next era anyway.