I have to be honest, I’m still not over the Dallas Mavericks loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs. I’ve spent this past week replaying that entire series in my mind from the game one meltdown to the Vince Carter game winner in game three to the DeJuan Blair ejection in game four and the game seven….well I try not to think too much about game seven. Regardless, it was an entertaining series that capped off an entertaining season for the Dallas Mavericks.
And now, the focus shifts on what will be a very important offseason for the Mavs in which they will have $30 million in cap space to play with . So what are the Mavericks going to do this offseason to go from becoming a team to that sneaks into the playoffs to a team that could contend for a championship again?
It starts with re-signing Dirk Nowitzki, obviously. Dirk has expressed that he wants to end his career in Dallas and he will take a pay cut to help the Mavs make some noise in free agency. It’s widely assumed Dirk will sign a two or three year deal with around $10 million per year to remain a Maverick, much like Tim Duncan‘s contract with the Spurs. Whatever the case, I think the Mavs and Dirk will work quickly to get a deal done.
Shawn Marion, Devin Harris and Carter will all also be free agents along with Nowitzki. All three have expressed that they hope to be back in Dallas and the feeling seems to be mutual. I’m definitely expecting Carter to be back with the club next year, and Harris as well. There will be teams such as the Miami Heat that will be clamoring to sign a versatile veteran like Marion. There’s no doubt the Mavs would love to bring him back, but at the right price and probably a bench role. We’ll see what happens there, but Marion seems to be a wildcard. Blair will also be a free agent, but I’m expecting the Mavs to bring him back especially after his performance in the playoffs.
Then we take a look at the top tier free agents on the market. Let’s go ahead and get one thing out of the way on this front: LeBron James isn’t coming here. Now that we’ve cleared that up, the question becomes ‘what about Carmelo Anthony?’ I’m sure the Mavs will do their due diligence on Melo, but I just don’t see it. Anthony is an elite scorer, but it’s hard to see him as a fit beside Dirk and Monta Ellis. Then there’s Chris Bosh, who is from Dallas. Again, I’m sure Dallas will look at it, but Bosh doesn’t make any sense playing next to Dirk.
So what about the next tier of free agents? Pau Gasol is a big man and the Mavs need a big guy, but if you thought the Mavs defense was bad this year just think about how horrendous it would be with Gasol at center. No thanks. Lance Stephenson is an intriguing name and would bring toughness and defense to a team that badly needs it. The problem is that the Ellis is already holding down the starting shooting guard spot and attempting to move Ellis to the bench after his best season could be disaster. Plus, I get the feeling that Stephenson is on the perfect team with the Pacers and him going anywhere else could be rocky, but that’s just me.
Kyle Lowry would bring that same toughness and defense to the point guard position, but unless the Mavs can re-sign Harris and unload Jose Calderon‘s contract, that doesn’t make sense either. The same goes for Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe. I could theoretically see the Mavs sign either Bledsoe or Lowry and move Calderon to the bench, but that’s a lot of money invested at point guard. If the Mavs sign one of them and Harris, you have to think that Calderon would be trade bait.
The person that does make sense? Luol Deng. Deng seems like the perfect compliment to Nowitzki and Ellis in the Mavs offense and would fill Marion’s shoes nicely on the defensive end should he leave. It just seems like a perfect match and I hope the Mavs can bring him to Dallas.
Another name to look at is Washington Wizard’s big man Marcin Gortat. Remember, the Mavs wanted Gortat when he was a restricted free agent with the Orlando Magic a few years back, but Orlando matched the offer. Don’t be surprised if the Mavs again have their eyes on Gortat.
One of the more fun things to think about is if the Mavericks could try and trade for Tyson Chandler. If Carmelo leaves New York and the Knicks decide to have a fire sale, Chandler’s expiring contract will be valuable to a lot of teams including Dallas. It would take quite a complex deal to bring the best center in Mavs history back to Dallas and it’s unlikely, but stranger things have happened. Could the Mavs even try and make a deal for Roy Hibbert if the Pacers get bounced out in the playoffs by the Wizards? That’s even less likely than the Chandler deal, but if Hibbert is on the block it wouldn’t surprise me if the Mavs are rumored to want to take a chance on the big man.
This will be a fun and rumor filled offseason. Expect the Mavs to be connected to a lot of the well known names on the market like Deng and Gortat. There will no doubt be some new faces on the Mavs roster by the time the summer ends, and let’s hope this team is even better and even more entertaining by the time training camp rolls around.