The Dallas Mavericks, well-aware of the Houston Rockets’ ambitious plan to match the Mavs' offer to Chandler Parsons and hopefully sign Chris Bosh, must make exploring alternative scenarios at small forward their priority.
The Mavs will be handcuffed until the Rockets officially match the offer, which could happen as late as 10:59 p.m. CT Sunday.
There is still a possibility that Houston can’t execute its plan and Parsons ends up in Dallas, but the Mavs are moving on. Actually, they never stopped their conversations with the agents of other small forwards on their short list.
Of course, those agents are talking to several teams around the league. There’s no guarantee that these guys will be available when the Mavs can get back to doing business.
A look at those players:
What he wants: A multiyear deal with a starting salary of at least $12 million
Pros: The 6-foot-8 Deng is an elite defender capable of guarding multiple positions and a versatile scorer who has averaged 16 points per game in his career. He’s also considered to have outstanding character and would be a great fit for the Mavs’ culture. Coach Rick Carlisle raved about Deng’s toughness when he came to town with the Cleveland Cavaliers last season.
Cons: There are significant concerns about the 29-year-old Deng’s durability after years of being a workhorse for the Chicago Bulls, particularly after he missed 19 games last season, primarily due to a sore Achilles tendon. The fear is that Deng’s decline has begun prematurely, although he’d likely benefit from the supervision of the Mavs’ outstanding medical staff. He’s also a subpar 3-point shooter (32.9 percent for his career), an issue for the Mavs with a backcourt that lacks perimeter shooters.
What he wants: A multiyear deal with a starting salary of $9-11 million
Pros: His strengths suit the Mavs well. Ariza is a very good defender and shoots the 3 well (40.7 percent last season), especially from the corners. He has championship experience as a role player with the 2009 Lakers, and his leadership was a critical element of the Washington Wizards winning just their second playoff series in three decades.
Cons: Ariza’s price tag is based on his production (14.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG) as a 28-year-old in a career year/contract year. That’s a massive commitment to make to a journeyman who has career averages of 9.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game while shooting only 43.4 percent from the floor.
What he wants: A two-year deal worth $9-10 million per year
Pros: The future Hall of Famer is still a skilled offensive threat, averaging 13.5 points in 28.0 minutes per game for the Brooklyn Nets last season. He can shoot the 3 and create off the dribble, and he has been one of the league’s best passing forwards for years. And he’s hit a ton of clutch shots during his career. If the Mavs can knock a bit off his price tag, they could have room to add another significant piece in free agency, such as itty-bitty but explosive point guard Isaiah Thomas. (UPDATE: Thomas is off the table after signing an offer sheet with the Suns.)
Cons: How much gas is left in Pierce’s tank? He turns 37 in October and has trouble staying in front of small forwards defensively these days. His minutes must be managed carefully. The worst-case scenario is that he shows up in Dallas as a shell of his old self.
What he wants: A one- or two-year deal worth about $5 million per year
Pros: “The Matrix” is still a terrific, versatile defender, as he proved last season while doing his best to mask the rest of the Mavs’ defensive weaknesses. He’s beloved in the Dallas locker room and throughout the organization. He knows Carlisle’s schemes like the back of his mangled hands after the last five years. At this price, the Mavs would still have a lot of flexibility to pursue other players in free agency.
Cons: At 36, how much gas is left in his tank? The Mavs obviously hope to upgrade offensively at small forward after Marion averaged 10.2 points per game last season.