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Sunday, July 11, 2010
Heat's Udonis Haslem will have a choice

By Jeff Caplan

Earlier Sunday, we pointed out here that the Dallas Mavericks have been interested in power forward Udonis Haslem, who has spent his entire seven-year career with the Miami Heat.

On Sunday night, sources close to the situation confirmed to that the Mavericks have extended a multi-year offer to Haslem that starts at the full $5.8 mid-level exception.

One source added that Haslem – one of Miami's most effective defenders on Dirk Nowitzki during the 2006 NBA Finals – is giving Dallas' pitch strong consideration despite the fact that the Heat are lobbying him hard to stay for less money and play with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

The 6-foot-8 Haslem has averaged 10.0 points and 8.1 rebounds in his career. Haslem, 30, made $7.1 million last season. The newly star-laden Heat hope to keep him but will be limited to offering Haslem just over $4 million a year after signing the mega-free-agent trio and completing the expected signing of sharpshooter Mike Miller.

Although Dallas can clearly outbid Miami, Haslem's strong ties to the area – especially to his close friend Wade – hurt the Mavericks' chances of actually landing him. It's also possible that New Jersey could join the bidding for Haslem as well.

Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson and coach Rick Carlisle have said the club's top free-agent priority is to sign a power forward or center. The Mavs have secured new deals with Dirk Nowitzki and Brendan Haywood, but depth is lean behind them with only Eduardo Najera and Erick Dampier on the roster.