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Friday, July 4, 2014
Mavs a little step closer to landing LeBron

By Tim MacMahon

The pie-in-the-sky scenario at least seems a little more possible after Mark Cuban’s trip to Cleveland.

The shameless “Shark Tank” promoter sarcastically claimed his Ohio visit was related to the reality TV show, but he was there to meet with LeBron James' agent Rich Paul, as ESPN.com reported Thursday.

Maybe that’s as far as the Mavs’ courting of King James goes. Or maybe they’ll be one of the teams to get a meeting with the four-time MVP in the coming days. Stay tuned.

At this point, it appears that James is at least contemplating leaving the Miami Heat, and the Mavs, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers are in the mix if he decides to bid farewell to declining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh after four Finals trips and two titles in four seasons together.

Who knows how good the Mavs’ odds would be if James is serious about leaving South Beach? But when a franchise has any chance at landing the world’s best player, they’d be foolish not to play it out. (Unless Carmelo Anthony makes the surprising decision to come to Dallas. After all, a big fish on the boat is worth more than two in the ocean.)

Cuban said before free agency opened that he didn’t intend to make any max offers, but it’s a safe bet that he wouldn’t let a few million dollars get in the way of signing James. The Mavs could easily create enough cap space to sign James to a max contract with a starting salary of $20.7 million by trading Raymond Felton or Brandan Wright in salary-dump deals.

That would leave the Mavs with little more than their cap room exception (approximately $2.7 million per year for no more than two seasons) and minimum-salary slots. With LeBron on board, the Mavs would likely be able to add a few bargain, ring-chasing veterans to fill out the rotation with quality players.

The Mavs’ hope of hitting a home run this summer is very much alive at the moment. It’s still nowhere near probable, but it’s unquestionably possible.