With the NBA lockout paralyzing the league into the third week of July when free-agent signings typically would be burning up the news wire, I offer you my ranking and analysis of the world champion Dallas Mavericks roster, as is.
Whenever the lockout ends and teams get back to the business of signing, re-signing and trading players, the Mavs' roster will almost certainly look a bit different. The core is likely to remain intact, but everyone can't stay. And if the right deal to either land a player at a position of need or to extract a sizable contract is presented to Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson, we know they won't be afraid to pull the trigger.
With that, I will rank the 16 players -- one each day -- currently on the Mavs' 15-man roster in order from least critical to most critical for a title defense. Yes, this is likely to ruffle some feathers, but it's a job that must be done and a price I'm willing to pay.
So, let the countdown begin with No. 16:
Experience: 11 years
Contract status: Free agent
2010-11 salary: $4.15 million
His story: With all due respect to Mr. Stevenson, an 11-year veteran that came up rather invaluable throughout the season as a fill-in starter at shooting guard and a reliable and durable defender in the postseason, he is the most likely not to return. Dallas' draft-night trade for the younger, taller, more versatile Rudy Fernandez would seem to have sealed Stevenson's departure to another team via free agency. The Mavs have Jason Terry and youngsters Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones filling out the 2-spot. Stevenson will go down as a consummate professional who took his lumps (starting the season at the end of the bench and then going from starter to back to the end of the bench when Beaubois returned from injury), but never stopped working. It paid off with a sensational postseason in which his rotating defensive responsibilities included matchups against Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
His outlook: Stevenson's professional attitude throughout the season and his defensive determination, plus his 3-point shooting in the playoffs, likely earned him a role elsewhere with a larger paycheck than the Mavs would likely be willing/able to offer.
Friday: No. 15