Which free agents left worthy of the MLE?

July, 12, 2010
7/12/10
5:03
PM CT
Udonis Haslem would have been a terrific free-agent addition to the Dallas Mavericks. But, not suprisingly, Haslem will take less money to stay in Miami and play with the Superfriends.

Finding a capable power forward or center remains a top priority for the Mavs, who are determined to reduce Dirk Nowitzki's minutes (he averaged 37.5 mpg last season). Behind Nowitzki is only Eduardo Najera. At center, Brendan Haywood signed a six-year deal with the Mavs, Erick Dampier may or may not be back and Ian Mahinmi, who agreed to terms Monday, is a project.

But, who in free agency is left that is worthy of paying and producing at the full mid-level exemption of $5.8 million starting next season?

Scan the free-agent list and the pickings are slim. How does Brad Miller sound? Al Harrington would be strong, low-post addition, but he'd be taking more than a 40-percent pay cut if he signed for the MLE.

Of course, Shaquille O'Neal remains the largest name on the market.

The options are so thin in free agency, that the Mavs might look to split the MLE among two or more players. Suns unrestricted free agent center Louis Amundson played for the minimum last season. He's more marketable now and he has several teams interested. Former Spurs center Fabricio Oberto is out there. So is former TCU star Kurt Thomas, as is Garland's Ike Diogu.

There just isn't much to throw good money at, which is why the Mavs are taking a long, hard look at using the Dampier trade chip in a possible deal for Minnesota's Al Jefferson. Right now, he's the best it gets.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsS. Marion 6.5
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9