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Mavs still paying for Magic matching Gortat

7/2/2010

The Mavs are still trying to make up for last summer’s free agency mess.

The Mavs accomplished their primary mission of 2009 free agency by signing Marcin Gortat to an offer sheet for a five-year deal at the full midlevel exception. They were confident that they’d found their big man of the future, but the Orlando Magic stunned them by matching the offer to retain the restricted free agent, paying Gortat big money to ride the bench behind Dwight Howard.

Drew Gooden’s signing was a decent band-aid. He was basically flipped for Brendan Haywood, giving the Mavs another potential big man of the future.

The problem is that Haywood plans to get paid as much as the market bears, as ESPNDallas.com’s Jeff Caplan detailed during the first day of free agency. Given the lack of legitimate centers on the open market – and interest in Haywood from the Heat, Cavaliers and others -- that’s likely to be more than Mark Cuban wants to cough up.

That puts the Mavs in a predicament: Should they overpay a career underachiever (kind of like they did with Erick Dampier) or scramble to find a starting center?