The Dallas Mavericks will, yet again, face another offseason of uncertainty this summer when free agents become available. With only four players under contract, they will be looking to avoid another season with 6-8 new faces on the team. Out of the remaining eleven players on the roster, three have player options and the rest will become free agents. So the question becomes this: Who should the Mavs bring back next year if they plan on keeping a similar team and who should they let go of if they want extra space for free agents?
The Mavs have three players who will have player options for this summer: Al-Farouq Aminu, Raymond Felton, and Monta Ellis.
Al-Farouq Aminu made a case for the Mavs to bring him back late in the year. We saw the real Aminu in the Playoffs with his defense on James Harden, explosive dunks and occasional offense. He was truly a bright spot for the Mavs during a time when not much else went right. After the season was over, he announced that he would decline his player option to become a free agent this summer. At the young age of 24, there’s no reason the Mavs shouldn’t bring him back. I would expect them to do as much as they can to retain Aminu this summer.
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Raymond Felton didn’t get many minutes until late in the season when Devin Harris was injured and in the Playoffs when Rajon Rondo disappeared. He hit a big game-winning layup against the Nuggets in the last week of the regular season and mad some nice contributions here and there. It has become known that he will eventually pick up his $3.9 million player option so he will indeed be in Dallas next season.
Monta Ellis is where things get interesting. He had an up and down season in 2014-15 and no one knows exactly what he is going to do this summer although many expect him to decline his player option and become a free agent. There were rumors during the season that he was unhappy but a lot of that came in the form of Rajon Rondo. Once Rondo left after Game 2 of the Playoffs, Ellis had a few really good games. There is a decent shooting guard market this summer so I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mavs search elsewhere and let Ellis find a new home if he does become a free agent.
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The Mavs will have Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire, Richard Jefferson, J.J. Barea, Charlie Villanueva, and Greg Smith all hit the free agent market this summer with Bernard James being their only restricted free agent. Oh, and there’s this guy named Rajon Rondo who probably won’t be back next season.
Tyson Chandler will be, perhaps, the most important player to retain this offseason for the Mavs. He played better this season than he did in 2011. Along with constantly putting up double-doubles, he was the defensive anchor for most of the year. The Mavs really do not want to see him leave again like they did in the summer of 2011 and the only way I see them not having Chandler on the team next season is if DeAndre Jordan was to make a push to join the Mavs. However, I think that is highly unlikely due to the Clippers success so far in the Playoffs. Tyson Chandler will be one of the Mavs top priorities this summer.
Amar’e Stoudemire provides another interesting situation for the Mavs. They picked him up about mid-season and he was able to provide valuable points and rebounds off of the bench which is something the Mavs had missed since trading Brandan Wright away for Rajon Rondo. He has expressed interest in staying with the Mavs and, with him being a veteran, I feel like the Mavs need to try to lock him up this summer. He may not be good every single night but he is the right bench piece you need to contend for a Championship.
Richard Jefferson, J.J. Barea and Charlie Villanueva were all key bench pieces this year for the Mavs and are all very deserving of another contract. I don’t expect them to be able to keep all three guys just because of the market and need for cap space. Barea seems like he is virtually a lock due to his 2011 Championship ties and just the fact that he is a great guy to bring off the bench. Jefferson is most likely a guy that will only be re-signed if the Mavs are looking to complete a roster. Villanueva, a fan favorite, has a pretty good chance of returning due to his ability to come off the bench and hit threes.
Greg Smith was brought in via trade last summer as a young player with some upside. Fans were hoping the Mavs could transform him into a player with a Brandan Wright-like impact but it just never happened. With other guys on the market, I don’t expect him to be back. Bernard James will probably be in Dallas next season and should be able to fill his spot quite well.
The Mavs will likely have a chance at a big time free agent this summer which is reason to believe some of these guys I mentioned above will not be back. If Ellis leaves, a new spot opens up in the starting line-up and if the Mavs somehow sign LaMarcus Aldridge, they would lose a bench spot with Dirk transforming into a sixth man. If Dallas wants to stay consistent, I believe they need to bring back some of their most consistent performers like Tyson Chandler (if DeAndre Jordan is not available), Amar’e Stoudemire, J.J. Barea and Al-Farouq Aminu. That leaves them with a few openings to mess around with so they could try to put the finishing touches on a Championship-caliber team!