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Sunday, July 11, 2010
The roster and what's next

By Jeff Caplan

The first wave of free agency is history and the Dallas Mavericks did what they could and what they had to in re-signing Dirk Nowitzki and Brendan Haywood.

While fans might have become intoxicated with talk of landing LeBron James or another high-caliber free-agent, the odds were stacked against the Mavs, who have no cap space and must work a sign-and-trade to acquire a free agent that will command more than the mid-level exception ($5.765 million).

As the Mavs move into the next phase of free agency, which amounts to targeting one or more players to fit in the MLE, plus other low-salary free agents (and, don't forget about Erick Dampier's non-guaranteed contract that the Mavs will try to trade for an impact player), let's take a look at what the club's roster looks like as of today:

Guards (8): Jason Kidd ($8.5M); Caron Butler ($10.8M); Jason Terry ($10.4M); Roddy Beaubois ($1.15M); DeShawn Stevenson ($4.15M); J.J. Barea ($1.8M); Matt Carroll ($4.3M); Dominique Jones (not yet signed).

Forwards (3): Dirk Nowitzki ($17.3M); Shawn Marion ($7.15M); Eduardo Najera ($3.0M).

Centers (2): Brendan Haywood ($7.0M); Erick Dampier ($13M).

By the start of the 2010-11 season, the roster could look a lot different or virtually the same. At the least, Dampier will not make $13 million. Because his contract is non-guaranteed, he will either be traded (and than waived by the team he's traded to) or cut. Dampier can then re-sign with the Mavs -- or any other team -- at a greatly reduced rate. Butler, Stevenson, Barea and even Terry and Carroll are trade chips to varying degrees, with Butler's expiring contract and Dampier's non-guaranteed contract at the top of the list.

We know the Mavs have had at least initial talks regarding unrestricted free agents Rasual Butler and Matt Barnes. Udonis Haslem is a target, but it appears the Miami Heat have found a way to keep him.

Dallas has also shown interest in a potential trade for Minnesota forward/center Al Jefferson.

The rest of July, and even beyond, will be an interesting time. The Mavs have little to spend in a pool of free agents that don't offer much excitement. Dallas boasts attractive trade chips that they will try to make work, but hold no guarantees.