The stated goal was to re-sign them all and defend the title.
Less than a week into teams being able to talk to player-agents, yet just four days from when players can sign contracts (as long as the CBA is ratified by the league's owners and players Thursday as planned), there is considerable doubt as Dallas Mavericks free agent center Tyson Chandler is seriously shopping his talents, as is rugged small forward Caron Butler.
As Brendan Haywood told the Washington Post's Michael Lee after a workout in D.C. with some former Wizards teammates, "I would love for everybody to come back, but it’s a business and you know that can’t always happen."
Chandler stunned Mavs fans last week when he told ESPN.com that he thinks he won't be back. And, it certainly isn't looking as though Butler will be wearing a Mavs uniform when training camp opens Friday. Butler is looking for a multiyear deal while the Mavs want to go with a one-year contract.
"I’m very concerned," Haywood told Lee. “Free agency is such a short period of time now, things are going to happen quick. Before, it might have taken a guy two weeks to get signed, now it’ll probably be two days, so I’m very concerned. We have a lot of guys that we need back. Tyson played well for us last year, J.J. Barea, so we have a lot of different guys we need to come back. Caron Butler as well. He was playing great for our team before his injury and I’m sure they want him back."
Starting at 9 a.m. (CT), team executives can begin meeting face-to-face with players. Chandler will begin a wooing process that includes visiting three teams. Butler will visit at least four this week, including a Tuesday date in San Antonio.
The Mavs are mulling their future under the new CBA. Owner Mark Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson are wrestling with the idea of re-signing Chandler, knowing that it will prevent Dallas from getting under the salary cap next summer for the first time in the Cuban era and all but remove it from contention for 2012 free agents. If they allow Chandler to walk, it will initially deflate the club and fan base, and leave a significant void for the title defense.
If Chandler departs, do the Mavs decide to then keep this season's roster (currently at $64.8 million to 10 players) to as many one-year deals as possible knowing the payroll drops to about $44 million (to six players) for the 2012-13 season? Such a plan might mean that Butler, Barea and DeShawn Stevenson also leave town.
Of course, the Mavs can ramp up their pursuit of Chandler this week, get him re-signed and look to bring the band, or most of it, back. But even Barea, on record as wanting to be back while being courted by the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks, couldn't be certain as of three days ago that he will be, saying, "I want to know where I'm going to be at."
By Friday, the Mavs' 2011-12 roster will come into much clearer focus.