Dallas Mavericks: Jonathan Bender

Free-agent dreams are fun, but reality bites

May, 26, 2010
5/26/10
1:41
PM CT
Keep humming the LeBron James song -- man, it is catchy -- or wish upon a Dwyane Wade or even a Joe Johnson.

But, the odds of landing one of those three, especially the first two, are longer than Roy Williams leading the Cowboys in catches next season.

So, if the Mavs don't land LeBron or D-Wade, who will be available on the free-agent market? Well, first let's narrow the focus to the Mavs' top priorities. Youth and athleticism in a small-forward package, a dynamic player who can get to the rim and create his own shot is at the top of the list (As Dirk said, like LeBron or D-Wade). So is a post player with decent agility and the ability to catch Jason Kidd's passes and finish. Brendan Haywood showed he has potential in that role, but he hits the market on July 1 and he'll have options.

The bad news for the Mavs is that after LeBron and D-Wade, and Johnson to a lesser extent, the pool of small forward-swingman-type talent isn't deep. There's plenty of two guards (and a bunch of undersized ones) coming available, but the Mavs are banking on the development of Roddy Beaubois and unless Caron Butler is swapped for a big name, he and Jason Terry will be back.

And remember this: Because the Mavs are over the salary cap, the maximum they can offer a free agent is the mid-level exception (about $5.5 million). To acquire a higher-priced player the Mavs would have to negotiate a sign-and-trade with another team.

So who's out there? Try to restrain your excitement:

Tracy McGrady (New York), Dorell Wright (Miami), Quentin Richardson (Miami), Matt Barnes (Orlando), Bobby Simmons (New Jersey) Travis Outlaw (L.A. Clippers) and Rasual Butler (L.A. Clippers).

Restricted free agent Rudy Gay (Memphis) is possible in a sign-and-trade. Richard Jefferson could bail out of San Antonio -- could he regain form being reunited with Kidd? How about oldie, but goody, Ray Allen (Boston)? Or the younger Tony Allen (Boston)?

Al Harrington (New York) will hit the market as will 7-foot small forward Jonathan Bender (New York), and Kyle Korver (Utah) and Mike Miller (Washington).

Of course, not all of those guys actually fit the bill.

And no post players in there, you say? Recall that big fish and Dallas native Chris Bosh has said he doesn't want to play in his hometown -- too many unnecessary distractions. So, if you find a big man more suitable than Haywood, add him to the list.

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