Dallas Mavericks: Marcin Gortat

This Dallas front office hit a dead end in its previous two trips down the road of restricted free agency.

Maybe the third time will be the charm for the Mavericks, who hope to have Chandler Parsons on the roster after the Rockets' three-day period to match the three-year, $46 million offer sheet expires late Sunday night.

Until then, Mavs fans can pass the time pondering what might have been if the previous two restricted free agents signed by the franchise actually ended up in Dallas.

[+] EnlargeMichael Redd
Gary Dineen/Getty ImagesMichael Redd was nearly a Maverick, but the Bucks matched an offer sheet for him and he went on to be a prolific scorer in Milwaukee.
Michael Redd: Redd would have been a huge steal for the Mavs, but his four-year, $12 million offer sheet was matched by Milwaukee in 2002.

Redd, a sweet-shooting lefty 2 guard, ended up averaging more than 21 points per game in five-plus straight seasons before a couple of serious knee injuries wrecked his career midway through what should have been his prime.

Redd was a bench player coming off averaging 11.4 points in his second NBA season when the Mavs made their play for him. He blossomed as a sixth man the next season before moving into the Bucks' starting lineup and becoming a star.

The development of Redd into a premier scorer would have been perfectly timed to Michael Finley's decline with the Mavs. Finley, a foundation piece in Dallas' transition from league laughingstock to contender, played three more seasons for the Mavs before being waived via the amnesty clause.

The Mavs moved on after the flirtation with Redd by signing Walt Williams and Raja Bell to one-year deals. Dallas won 60 games and advanced to the West finals in 2002-03 -- with Williams and Bell splitting time in the starting lineup, and Nick Van Exel firing away as the sixth man in his only full season with the Mavs --– but Redd would have been a part of the franchise's core for years to come.

[+] EnlargeMarcin Gortat
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesHad Marcin Gortat joined Dallas when the Mavs had their eye on him, he probably would have saved Mark Cuban a lot of money.
Marcin Gortat: The 7-footer had played fewer than 900 minutes as a project backing up Dwight Howard when the Mavs offered him the full midlevel exception. The Mavs, firmly believing they'd found a big man to bump Erick Dampier to the bench, were stunned when the Magic matched the offer.

Months later, the Magic flipped Gortat in a Vince Carter-fronted package to the Phoenix Suns in the deal that brought Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu to Orlando. Gortat soon emerged as a quality starting center.

After the deal he originally signed with Dallas finally expired this summer, Gortat cashed in with a five-year, $60 million deal from the Washington Wizards, who traded for him before last season.

It's hard to figure how getting Gortat would have changed the future for the Mavs.

Would the Mavs have still used the chip of Dampier's instantly expiring contract to trade for Tyson Chandler the next summer? Would the Mavs have instead decided to roll the dice on the deal they discussed for Al Jefferson, knowing they had a traditional center on the roster already?

It's safe to assume that Gortat being in the mix would have saved Mark Cuban a lot of money. The Mavs wouldn't have felt pressured to give Brendan Haywood a big contract that eventually got the amnesty ax.

In fact, Haywood probably never would have come to Dallas, where he was shipped in a seven-player deal before the 2010 deadline. One of the players Dallas sent to Washington in that deal was Drew Gooden, a power forward who played backup center for the Mavs, who signed him after missing out on Gortat.

Dallas won the 2011 title with Chandler as the defensive anchor and an emotional leader, so it's hard for the Mavs to be too mad about missing out on Gortat. But it sure would have been nice to have a reasonably priced big man on the roster who could score, rebound and protect the rim the last five years.

Is Larry Sanders worth risk for Mavs?

May, 13, 2014
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LArry SandersAP Photo/David Zalubowski
In an ideal scenario, the Mavericks would make Samuel Dalembert one of the league’s better backup big men this summer.

The problem is there aren’t many potential upgrades available in free agency. In fact, you could argue that only Marcin Gortat fits the Mavs’ need for a center who can serve as a rim-protecting, rebound-grabbing defensive anchor while also posing a threat as a roll man offensively. And the Washington Wizards aren’t likely to let Gortat go without putting up a financial fight.

There is a pair of intriguing possible salary-dump trade options at the position, as mentioned by ESPN.com’s Marc Stein in his Mavs Summer Scoop: Tyson Chandler and Larry Sanders.

Chandler, who will be forever beloved in Dallas due to being such a critical piece of the 2011 championship puzzle, would be an extremely safe trade target. Sure, there is always an injury concern with him, but the Mavs would only be committed to the final season of that big contract he signed with the New York Knicks. They are obviously familiar with Chandler and know he’s almost as valuable in the locker room as he is on the floor.

Sanders, on the other hand, would be about as risky as they come. He’d arrive in Dallas with a four-year, $44 million contract extension that begins this summer and character red flags the size of billboards.

But, man, does this freakishly athletic 6-foot-11 dude have the tools to be a great fit next to Dirk Nowitzki for the big German’s golden years.

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How sweet would it be for the Mavericks to sign local product Chris Bosh this summer?

Bradford Doolittle and Amin Elhassan consider it the ideal scenario in their ESPN Insider “Roster Reload” piece.

I respectfully disagree. More importantly, so do the Mavs and Bosh.

Bosh, who led Dallas Lincoln High to an undefeated season and mythical national title as a senior, has made it clear over the years that the thought of playing in his hometown doesn’t appeal to him. The ridiculous numbers of ticket requests and demands for his time would outweigh home cooking, in his mind.

The Mavs’ immediate goal is to give Dirk Nowitzki the best possible chance to contend for another championship during his golden years, and they don’t consider Bosh to be a good fit next to the big German.

Bosh and Nowitzki, two of the best jump-shooting big men in the game, like to operate from a lot of the same areas offensively. An athletic big man who does a lot of damage in the lane and on the offensive glass – such as last summer’s target, Dwight Howard – would be a much better complement to Nowitzki.

Bosh, more of a power forward who can play center, is a smart defender but not the rim-protecting, rebounding-ripping defensive anchor the Mavs would like next to the athletically-challenged Nowitzki. Bosh has never averaged more than 1.4 blocks per game in a season, and his rebounding average has dipped under seven per game the last two seasons.

It’s not that the Mavs couldn’t make use of Bosh on their roster. Just not for the suggested $20 million-per-year price tag. Or even close to it.

And it’d make no sense for Bosh to opt out of the remaining two years and $42.7 million on his contract with the Miami Heat to sign somewhere else for significantly less.

The Mavs would much rather sign Marcin Gortat, whom they targeted in the 2009 offseason, away from the Washington Wizards. Or trade for old friend Tyson Chandler if the New York Knicks go into rebuilding mode and want to slash salary.

Entering next season with Samuel Dalembert as the starting center again after using the cap space to upgrade other positions wouldn’t be a worst-case scenario, either.

That’s much more likely than bringing Bosh home.
SAN ANTONIO -- This season cannot be described as a success for the Dallas Mavericks.

The franchise’s standards are far too high for that. As Dirk Nowitzki said after a scintillating first-round series with the San Antonio Spurs ended with the Mavs on the wrong end of a Game 7 rout, the standard was set in 2011, when the Mavs won a title.

So a 49-win season and pushing the West’s top seed to seven games can be a source of pride but isn’t a success in Dallas. However, it’s a big step in the right direction for a franchise whose arrow seemed to be pointing down after its dozen-year playoff streak ended last season.

The Mavs’ front office must make major strides this summer to give Nowitzki, an All-Star at age 35, a legitimate chance to chase a title during his golden years.

[+] EnlargeMavericks
AP Photo/Eric GayThe signings of Ellis and Harris, third from left, were among the Mavs' unexpected successes that the front office will look to build on this summer.
"I think if we keep this team together, we’re going to make a lot of noise next year," said Monta Ellis, last summer’s desperation signing, who proved a lot of people wrong by establishing himself as an electrifying sidekick for Nowitzki.

That’s the message owner Mark Cuban delivered to the Mavs in the AT&T Center’s visitors locker room after Sunday’s 119-96 loss. He stressed how much the Mavs value continuity after making major roster changes the past three offseasons.

The Mavs like their core. They want to keep it intact as much as possible and hope to re-sign Vince Carter, Shawn Marion and Devin Harris, key role players who are entering free agency, to reasonable contracts. Oh, and Dirk, too, but that’s just a matter of agreeing to the details of a deal that’s likely to end up resembling Tim Duncan’s discount contract (three years, $30 million).

"Mark and [president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson] and I all agree that the more continuity we can have going forward, the better," coach Rick Carlisle said. "It’s one thing that [the Spurs have] done so well here for so many years, so we’ll work to get back as many of these guys back as we can. We’ve got a lot of free agents. I’d love to have them all."

But the Mavs’ front office, which will have more than $30 million of cap space when free agency opens July 1, isn’t fooling itself into believing that this veteran-heavy roster just needs a little time to develop into a legitimate championship contender. The Dallas decision-makers are well aware that the Mavs need major boosts of length and athleticism.

Time is of the essence, considering the franchise player turns 36 this summer.

"Ultimately, the year we won in 2011, that’s the standard now," said Nowitzki, the Mavs’ unofficial assistant GM. "We obviously have high expectations. The fan base does, the organization does. We want to get back up there. However we need to do it, whatever needs to be done, Mark and Donnie are going to probably do it. We’ll see what happens."

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The Mavericks moved back a couple of hours on the clock and moved up a couple of spots in the Western Conference standings Wednesday.

Just another day in the wild, wild West.

We’ve got drama with seven games to go. The Mavs have a slim shot to finish as high as sixth and sit in a three-way tie for seventh place entering Thursday night’s road game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Will the Mavs make the playoffs or be hoping the ping pong balls bounce their way in the lottery? We might not know until their April 16 regular-season finale in Memphis ends.

Dirk Nowitzki
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsIt's probably not the best idea for the Mavs to tank during Dirk Nowitzki's golden years.
On to your questions …

Q: After watching that heartbreaking loss to Stephen Flipping Curry and seeing the Mavs drop to ninth in the standings for the 76th time in the past week or so, I can't help but find solace in the fact that missing the playoffs allows us to keep our draft pick. I understand not wanting to outright tank away Dirk Nowitzki's final two or three years, but would it be such a terrible thing for us to miss the playoffs and draft a possible key player with the 14th pick? – Cole (Denton)

TM: I understand your logic, but the Mavs want to pay their bill (now owed to Oklahoma City) on the disastrous Lamar Odom deal as soon as possible.

First-round picks are among the most valuable commodities in the trade market, and the Mavs are handcuffed from even discussing dealing them because they owe a top-20 protected pick to the Thunder. That’s one reason to root for the Mavs to make the playoffs and unload that pick this summer.

Maybe a better reason: Think of the worst-case scenario. The protection on that pick runs through the 2017 draft. Imagine if the Mavs stay on the mediocrity treadmill during Dirk’s golden years – not good enough to get rid of the pick, landing in the late lottery or grabbing one of the West’s last playoff bids each season. Then Nowitzki retires in the summer of 2017 and the Mavs finally bottom out.

How sick would it make you to give the Thunder a high lottery pick smack dab in the middle of Kevin Durant’s prime?

Q: I read recently that Rudy Gay could possibly opt out of his contract. I see his reputation very similar to Monta Ellis. Any chance the Mavs would take another gamble on an "inefficient" scorer to team with Dirk and Monta? – Blake (Dallas)

TM: My initial reaction is that I’ll believe Gay walks away from his $19.3 million salary for next season when I see it. I doubt he could get that much over two years in free agency. You can point to Ellis as an example of a player who left money on the table to escape a losing franchise, but he thought he’d at least be able to get in the neighborhood of the three-year, $36 million offer he turned down from Milwaukee.

My next thought is that plugging in Gay as the starting small forward doesn’t address the Mavs’ biggest need, which is becoming a better defensive team.

Having said all that, never say never. If Gay opts out and doesn’t find much of a market for his services, maybe the Mavs could get him on a decent value deal.

Gay has a rep as a volume scorer, but he’s actually been pretty efficient since being traded to NBA Siberia, averaging 20.5 points on 48.5 percent shooting in Sacramento. He’s lit up the Mavs in their last two meetings with the Kings, and the Dallas front office has a history of signing players who have had success against them.

However, defensive issues aside, I don’t know how well Gay would fit with Ellis. They both need the ball in their hands a bunch, and neither is a good perimeter shooter. Spacing seems like it’d be a concern.

[+] EnlargeSamuel Dalembert
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsThe Mavs could explore other options at center during the offseason, but don't count out Samuel Dalembert as the starter next season.
Q: The Mavs have no chance signing Marcin Gortat in the offseason. Who is best starting center can Mavs sign or trade for next season starting center position? I personally like Mavs to sign Emeka Okafor or trade for Anderson Varejao. Have one of the guys as starting center and Samuel Dalembert as backup center. Mavs can have one of best defensive center combo in the league best season. What you think, Tim? – Jason (Dallas)

TM: Why don’t the Mavs have a chance to sign Gortat? They’ve already successfully recruited him once when he was a restricted free agent, but the Orlando Magic surprised everybody by exercising their right to match the offer.

Are you assuming that he re-signs with the Washington Wizards? That’s probably a good bet given that the Wizards made great strides this season and have plenty of cap space, but it’s ridiculously premature to rule out the Mavs getting Gortat, who is by far the best big man realistically available in free agency.

Okafor? Is he ever going to play again? He’s not worth more than a minimum-salary flyer at this point. I’d be interested in dealing for Varejao despite his own injury history, but I have no idea what the Cavs would ask for him.

Don’t rule out Dalembert starting again next season.

Q: Was it too soon for Donnie Nelson to assure Dalembert of his place with the Mavs next season? Sam was probably playing for a contract in the past month or so, thus putting in tremendous effort (with results). He could either go back to the lax mode like he was in a few months ago, or full gear the way Vince Carter did last year when Mavs refused to trade him. Your thoughts? – Gnosys (East of Seattle)

TM: Well, first of all, it’s not like Nelson’s comments were legally binding. The Mavs can always change their minds, but I don’t see that happening unless they really need the roughly $2 million in cap space that cutting Dalembert would create.

I also don’t buy Dalembert being motivated that much by his contractual situation. The dude has made more money than he ever dreamed of and has been played on one-year deals the previous three seasons. It certainly didn’t motivate him last season in Milwaukee.

Q: Lance Stephenson is being called selfish publicly by his teammates and got into a push fight with George Hill during a timeout. Is he still the man you want the Mavs to target this summer with a big contract? – Tony (Dallas)

TM: Some homework certainly needs to be done before offering him a long-term deal with eight-figure salaries, but I still see Stephenson as a talented, versatile, 23-year-old quality starter with star potential.

I'm not sure the Mavs are that high on him, but one rough stretch for the Pacers shouldn't prevent a team from bidding aggressively on Stephenson.

First, I haven't read or heard anyone singling out Stephenson as selfish. I saw Roy Hibbert make a comment about "some selfish dudes in here," but he didn't attach any names to it. I'd guess that was intended primarily for Paul George, who rise to stardom might have increased his hat size.

Stephenson isn't shooting the ball more often since the Pacers' season suddenly turned south. His assist totals have plummeted, but I'd say that's probably a symptom of Indiana's major offensive issues.

As far as the heated sideline interaction with a teammate goes, that stuff happens. It's not ideal, but it's at least a sign that a guy cares when things aren't going well for his team.

Remember Jason Terry and J.J. Barea going after each other in a Mavs huddle? Considering they played key roles in a title run months later, I'd say the Mavs made the right call by not rushing to get rid of either guy.

Would it be the right call to give Stephenson the kind of deal (four years, $44 million?) it'd take to pry him away from the Pacers? I'll admit that Indiana's struggles give me some pause, but I still believe the Mavs should seriously consider making a pitch to Stephenson.

QL With his improvements this year, could Brandan Wright become a larger part of this team in the next two seasons? Is he improving enough on defense? – Jared (Richmond, Va.)

TM: It's pretty evident that Rick Carlisle has a clearly defined role for Wright, and it isn't as a starter or a guy who gets the majority of the minutes. It's a safe bet that Wright will be a valuable member of the Mavs' bench as long as he's in Dallas. Carlisle doesn't trust Wright enough defensively to expand his role.

Mavs mailbag: Time to sit Dirk?

March, 25, 2014
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Dirk NowitzkiAP Photo/Tony GutierrezWould it be wise for the Mavs to rest Dirk Nowitzki down the stretch as they fight for a playoff spot?

DALLAS -- The Mavericks have lost two of the last three games. Dirk Nowitzki looks old. If the playoffs started today, the Mavs would be back in the lottery.

Last week’s feel-good mailbag seems so long ago. At this point, it seems most MFFLs are awfully worried about this playoff push or already looking forward to the summer.

On to your questions ...

Do you think the Mavs may try to rest Dirk down the stretch? He's looked noticeably exhausted the past few games. -- @ItsaThomasThing on Twitter

I got several versions of this question this week. One faithful reader, @RamiMichail, went so far as to suggest sitting Dirk on Saturday night against the Sacramento Kings.

I’ll be absolutely stunned if that happens. It’s simply a luxury the Mavs can’t afford while fighting for their playoff lives.

Rick Carlisle said the subject hasn’t even been broached internally this week, adding that he talked to Nowitzki at length yesterday and was told that the big German feels fine physically. I’m not sure I buy that, especially after playing a pair of overtime games in the last week, but the Mavs don’t believe Nowitzki is at a point where he absolutely requires a game of rest right now.

“I don’t think he’d agree to sit right now anyway,” Carlisle said. “I think he’d fistfight all of us to keep playing.”

By the way, if Dirk is going to get a DNP-CD (OLD), I wouldn’t do it against a bad team. I’d sit him on the road April 3 against the Los Angeles Clippers, a game the Mavs aren’t likely to win anyway and the front end the only back-to-back left on the Mavs’ schedule.

What effect do you think the loss of Dwane Casey to the Raptors has had on the Mavs D since champ season? Any at all? -- @emptyflare on Twitter

Casey is one of the best defensive minds in the NBA. He’s also a Coach of the Year candidate this season, as his Toronto Raptors team that was supposedly tanking is in third place in the Eastern Conference. I can’t completely dismiss the impact his loss might have had on the Mavs’ defense, but I do believe Dallas defensive coordinator Monte Mathis is a good coach who has kept all the schemes and principles he learned while working under Casey.

This is much more of a personnel problem than a coaching issue. The Mavs knew they’d have major defensive challenges after putting the roster together this summer. They’d have to overachieve to be average defensively. Unfortunately, they’ve lived down to expectations on that end of the floor, ranking 22nd in defensive rating.

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Mavs mailbag: Any chance Dirk leaves Dallas?

February, 18, 2014
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DALLAS -- Yes, I’d still be stunned if the Mavericks manage to pull off a significant deal before Thursday’s trade deadline.

So we’ll skip over all the far-fetched trade scenarios.

Would Dirk ever play for another team? Or is it pretty much ride it out with Cuban/Donnie until he doesn't wanna do it anymore? -- Jason (Fort Worth)

I’d take Dirk Nowitzki at his word on this one, and he’s consistently said that he’ll never wear another NBA uniform.

In fact, Nowitzki addressed this again over All-Star Weekend, when he sat down with Grantland.com’s Bill Simmons for a BS Report appearance. Here’s the answer, in Dirk’s own words.

Dirk Nowitzki
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezDirk Nowitzki has said that he can't see himself playing anywhere other than Dallas.
“I can’t really see myself playing somewhere else,” Nowitzki said. “I said it all the time. It wouldn’t even feel right to put on another jersey somewhere else or live somewhere else. I’ve been in Dallas my entire career. This is my 16th season, so it wouldn’t even feel right.

“So I’m sure we’ll find a nice little agreement for both sides where we can have a good team for the following years and I feel I can still play and feel respected, and we’ll go from there.”

The plan is still for Nowitzki to take a significant pay cut -- we’ll find out exactly what that means this summer, and I’m not sure Nowitzki even has a number in mind yet -- and re-sign with the Mavs for two or three more years. He desperately wants to compete for another championship, but he’s dead set on doing it in Dallas.

Maybe it’d be a different story if the Mavs didn’t get to the top of the NBA mountain in 2011. If Dirk didn’t have a ring, he might be tempted to pull a Karl Malone and go elsewhere to chase a championship.

“This might be a whole different issue,” Nowitzki told Simmons. “That’s something I felt like I needed on my resume. Maybe the free agency would be a lot different. I might think about some other moves. But really now, there’s [nothing] to think about.”

I'm optimistically betting the Mavs continue to improve and gel after the All-Star break. The '04-'05 Mavs caught my eye as a possible comparison. That team finished the regular season in the upper echelon of the league offensively and middle of the pack defensively, winning a thrilling first-round playoff series vs. Houston. Would you bet on this current roster winning a playoff series if it can avoid the No. 7-8 seed, or am I reaching on this comparison? -- Ryne (Washington, D.C.)

That’s an interesting comparison, especially considering that it was Jason Terry’s first season in Dallas, like Monta Ellis now. But that Dallas team won 58 games and rolled into the playoffs with home-court advantage in the first round, which obviously isn’t happening this season.

Having said that, as I wrote last week, I’d give the Mavs a puncher’s chance to get out of the first round if they get matched up with the Houston Rockets or Portland Trail Blazers.

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3 Points: Dirk or Monta as leading scorer?

December, 18, 2013
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Dirk NowitzkiKyle Terada/USA TODAY SportsDirk Nowitzki leads the Mavs with 21.1 points per game, followed closely by Monta Ellis' 20.8.
ESPNDallas.com columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor and MavsOutsider.com editor in chief Bryan Gutierrez will join me each week to run a three-man weave on a few questions on the minds of Mavs fans.

Don't look now, but Dirk Nowitzki is the Mavs' leading scorer again. Will that be the case at the end of the season for the 14th straight year?

Gutierrez: Michael Finley averaged 22.6 points per game while Nowitzki averaged 17.5 in 1999-00. I certainly don't see the margin being that wide between Nowitzki and Monta Ellis. Nowitzki is flirting with joining the 50-40-90 (shooting percentages) club for the second time in his career. An efficient Nowitzki will lead to plenty of points. It will be close, but I think Nowitzki maintains his leading scorer title for the Mavericks.

Taylor: When the season ends, Ellis will be the leading scorer because Dirk will allow the offense to flow through. Ellis has shown he can be a playmaker, especially in the pick-and-roll. As the season goes on, we should expect the 35-year-old star to slow down just a little because of the NBA grind while Ellis will probably maintain his performance. The key for the Mavs was to get a legit sidekick for Dirk, and that's just what they have.

MacMahon: This will be a neck-to-neck race, although they're really not competing against each other. I'll go with Dirk for a couple of reasons. I figure November, when he averaged 20.4 points per game, will be perhaps his toughest month of the season because of a schedule pace that he called "brutal." Nowitzki will also be a much more consistent scorer over the duration of the season than Ellis, a streaky shooter who will mix in the occasional single-digit dud like Saturday night.

What are reasonable expectations for Brandan Wright?

[+] EnlargeBrandan Wright
Danny Bollinger/NBAE/Getty ImagesCan Brandan Wright make the jump to being a really good player?
Gutierrez: A point per minute isn't reasonable? Oh, OK. Wright averaged 11.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 23.8 minutes in the final 24 games last season. He shot 57.8 percent from the field in that span. Whether he starts or comes off the bench, Wright will see an uptick in scoring average from that span last season without a drop-off in efficiency. An improvement in the rebounding numbers would be huge but is not entirely expected. He'll be a huge insurance policy in scoring for the Mavericks when they need to get Nowitzki rest, especially in the fourth quarter.

Taylor: Wright is a lively body who should average double figures because he can run the court and he has a nice jumper. If the Mavs can get him to 6-7 rebounds a game, they would really be excited. He's a good player. The question is whether he can make the jump to really good player, which will happen if he can get his rebounding numbers in line.

MacMahon: I love Wright referring to his late-season production as a minimum expectation. It should be. He returned to Dallas stronger and with a little more range on his jumper, not to mention much richer after signing a two-year, $10 million deal this summer. The next time Rick Carlisle asks for my advice, I'll tell him to start Wright at center to pair him with Nowitzki as often as possible. That's a tremendously effective offensive tandem. Whether that happens or not, don't be surprised if Wright is the Mavs' third-leading scorer.

Fast-forwarding to the summer, who is the free agent not named LeBron you'd most like to see land in Dallas?

Gutierrez: Shawn Marion will be a free agent, thus creating a hole there. Luol Deng makes sense, but I'm not sure he's worth the perceived price tag. Dallas will need to continue working on its center position as well. This will probably be an underwhelming selection, but put me down for seeing Marcin Gortat as the free agent I'd like to see land in Dallas. The Mavericks were close to getting him in the summer of 2009 as a restricted free agent. As an outright free agent, they'll have just as good of a shot as anyone else to land him.

Taylor: The Mavs, for the most part, have been looking for a center forever. They might be able to get a solid wide body in free agency. Gortat would be a good choice because he's big enough to bang and has a solid offensive game. Spencer Hawes might also be intriguing because of his ability to hit the jumper and spread the court. I just don't want to hear Mark Cuban tell me how they're going to get LeBron James signed.

MacMahon: I'll go out of the box a bit and say Eric Bledsoe. He's a restricted free agent, so this might be a pipe dream, but he's a blossoming star. So what if the Mavs signed Jose Calderon and Ellis last summer? Bring Calderon off the bench and keep his minutes in the mid-20s as he gets into his mid-30s. Bledsoe and Ellis would be a phenomenally fun, explosive backcourt. Bledsoe would solve a bunch of problems defensively, and he's averaging 19.5 points and 6.4 assists for the Suns this season. He would be worth an eight-figure annual investment over four years.

Mavs mailbag: Possible summer targets?

December, 10, 2013
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If the Mavericks are going to get blown out by a bad team, there’s no better time to do it than in the wake of the Cowboys being massacred on Monday night football.

Too bad it killed all the good vibes from the Mavs’ best win of the season, which happened in Portland just a couple of nights earlier.

But we’ll be like the rest of the Metroplex and mostly ignore that slip-up in Sacramento. What else is on your Mavs minds?

@BrockLPrice on Twitter: This may be a bit premature, but with the Mavs having max cap space coming up this offseason, who do you see them pursuing?

Let me just make it clear that this is all premature speculation on my part. That removes me from the responsibility of being right, which makes this sort of thing much more fun.

Carmelo Anthony
Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY SportsIf Carmelo Anthony opts out of the last year of his deal with the Knicks, the Mavs would have to at least entertain the possibility of pursuing him.
I’m going to assume that the Mavs don’t land LeBron James. Yep, really going out on a limb there. If Carmelo Anthony opts out of the last year of his deal with the Knicks, I’m not sure the Mavs should try to sign him to a four-year deal in the $100 million range, but they’d have to at least entertain the possibility of pursuing him.

I can’t see Chris Bosh opting out of his deal, and he’s not a fit next to Dirk Nowitzki anyway, plus he’s made it pretty clear that he doesn’t consider playing in his hometown to be a positive. Dwyane Wade isn’t leaving Miami, especially not to make Mark Cuban his new boss.

If none of the stars who are eligible to hit the market are realistic options -- a likely scenario -- there are a couple of second-tier guys who could be really good fits for the Mavs. Chicago’s Luol Deng is a versatile small forward who could be a younger version of Shawn Marion with more scoring punch. Big man Marcin Gortat is just about to wrap up the contract that was originally an offer sheet from the Mavs. Why not make another run at him?

Some restricted free agents worth keeping an eye on, depending on how much their current teams are willing to match, are Detroit’s Greg Monroe, Phoenix’s Eric Bledsoe and Utah’s Gordon Hayward.

@electriclight41 on Twitter: Which pipe dream is more likely: Mavs move to the Eastern Conference or NBA gets rid of divisions/conferences?

The NBA getting rid of divisions might happen. I can’t see them ever going so far as to eliminate conferences.

And good luck making a case for the Mavs moving to the East. No, the fact that the Cowboys play in the NFC East doesn’t help the cause here. If, for some reason, the NBA decides to move a team to the East, Memphis and New Orleans would make more sense than the Mavs, according to maps.

@RamiMichail on Twitter: Who do you expect having a greater impact between Brandan Wright and Devin Harris on the team when they return?

They’ll both be rotation players, but I’d bet on Wright having a bigger impact. That’s because he’s a more dynamic player at this point of their careers and there’s more opportunity for minutes.

It’s awfully clear Rick Carlise’s doghouse, formerly occupied by Brendan Haywood and Chris Kaman, is now being inhabited by Samuel Dalembert. If Wright can perform like he did in the final quarter of last season, I could see a Wright/DeJuan Blair center tandem with Dalembert being just a bit player in the big man rotation.

Paul (Houston): Why are the Mavs not giving Wayne Ellington more of a chance? Vince Carter continues to struggle. Jae Crowder is a mediocre shooter at best. Is Crowder's D that much of a strength to take Ellington out of the equation?

Carlisle isn’t going to give up on Carter after one tough month and Crowder has earned the right to be in the rotation. That leaves Ellington on the fringe of the rotation.

Crowder is an inconsistent perimeter shooter, but he does a lot of things well and can defend a few different positions. Most importantly, the Mavs outscore opponents with him on the floor. His per-48-minute plus-minus is plus-9, which is the best of any of the Mavs’ rotation players.

Jason (Dallas) Hey Tim, do Mavs have any interest trading Vince Carter to Oklahoma City for Jeremy Lamb? I believe Mavs should consider this trade because Oklahoma City gives Vince Carter a better chance to win a championship and the Mavs get a young player they can use and get young. What you think about this trade?

Sure, the Mavs should be interested in getting a 21-year-old shooting guard who has shown promise this season and has two seasons remaining on his rookie deal. All they’ve got to give up is a struggling 36-year-old with an expiring contract? Pull the trigger.

Only one problem with this trade: Oklahoma City has to agree to it. Why the heck would the Thunder do that?
How do the Mavericks address their glaring hole at center if they don’t sign Andrew Bynum?

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ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why she thinks Andrew Bynum got a bad rap in Los Angeles and how he would fit in with the Mavericks.

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At the moment, there is one big man on the Mavs’ roster. That’s Bernard James, who played less than 20 minutes in the final month of his rookie season.

It’s not like there are a lot of options available in free agency, either. In fact, there aren’t any starting centers left other than restricted free agent Nikola Pekovic, and Minnesota will likely match any offer he receives.

Some other options: Samuel Dalembert, Chris Andersen, Byron Mullens, Jermaine O'Neal, Elton Brand and Brandan Wright.

The Mavs might end up with one or two of those other options, but they aren’t targeting them as starters. They’ve been in touch with O’Neal and Brand, but those former All-Stars are low-cost backup bangers at this point of their careers. They have Wright’s Early Bird rights and would like to keep him, but they see him as a 20-minute-per-game spark, not a starter.

Can Dalembert be a stopgap starter at 32 years old? Perhaps. His per-36-minute numbers for Milwaukee last season were pretty solid (14.7 points, 13.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks), but he averaged only 16.3 minutes and appeared in only 47 games.

Houston’s Omer Asik and Phoenix’s Marcin Gortat could be available in the trade market. What assets do the Mavs have that would tempt their current teams?

Maybe Houston would be interested in Shawn Marion, who could provide the Rockets some veteran savvy and perimeter defense currently missing from their roster. Of course, then there’s a huge hole at small forward. Perhaps the Mavs could orchestrate a multi-team deal to get Asik or Gortat.

Or maybe the Mavs head into the season with a three-headed monster featuring, oh, say, O’Neal, Wright and James.

Yep, Bynum has some leverage, bad knees and all.

W2W4: Can Mavs spoil Suns' fun guarantee?

December, 6, 2012
12/06/12
1:19
PM CT
Maybe the money-back guarantee wasn’t too big of a risk for the Suns’ marketing department.

Fans who don’t have fun tonight can get their ticket prices refunded. That’s not necessarily guaranteeing a win, but it’s not like the Mavs are tough to beat when they’re playing the butt end of back-to-backs.

The Mavs are 1-3 in such games this season. That includes a couple of lopsided loss, being blown out by 19 in Utah and 23 in Chicago.

The Mavs were on the wrong end of a rout against the Clippers last night, but their starters other than rookie Jae Crowder still played pretty heavy minutes. This could be an especially tough task for 38-year-old point guard Derek Fisher, who played 27 minutes in the first half of his first back-to-back of his season.

The Suns have certainly had their share of struggles this season, having just wrapped up a 1-5 road trip, but they are 5-3 at home.

Records: Mavs (8-10); Suns (7-12)

When: 9:30 p.m.

Where: US Airways Center

TV: TNT

Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: The Suns go as point guard Goran Dragic goes. His numbers from the Suns’ seven wins: 18.9 points, 52.5 field goal percentage, 50.0 3-point percentage, 7.4 assists. His numbers from the Suns’ dozen losses: 13.5 points, 44.5 field goal percentage, 29.4 3-point percentage, 6.1 assists per game. If Darren Collison struggles – particularly on the defensive end – it will be interesting to see if coach Rick Carlisle gives meaningful backup point guard minutes to Dominique Jones.

Key matchup: Chris Kaman vs. Marcin Gortat – The Mavs at least need Kaman to hold his own in the big man matchup. A big offensive night from Kaman, who has had three 20-point game this season, would be nice. It’s imperative, however, that he gives a solid defensive effort. Kaman has struggled with the Mavs’ pick-and-roll coverages, which require their big men to aggressively show and recover. Gortat, who averaged 15.4 points last season but has seen his scoring average dip almost four points per game, is at his best as a roll man.

Injuries: Mavs – PF Dirk Nowitzki (knee) is out. Suns – F Channing Frye (heart) is out.

Up next: at Houston Rockets, 7 p.m. Saturday

Brendan Haywood likely out vs. Suns

March, 8, 2012
3/08/12
1:31
PM CT
Mavericks center Brendan Haywood will probably miss his second consecutive game due to a sprained left ankle.

“I don't think he's going to play tonight,” coach Rick Carlisle said after Haywood was a limited participant during the Mavs’ morning shootaround in Phoenix.

Backup big man Brandan Wright, who is recovering from a concussion suffered during Friday’s loss in New Orleans, did not make the road trip. That leaves Ian Mahinmi as the only healthy center with any significant experience with the Mavs.

Mahinmi has played well as the Mavs’ primary center since Haywood injured his ankle on the opening possession in Monday’s loss in Oklahoma City. He has averaged 11.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 1.5 blocks in the last two games.

Mahinmi will have his hands full with Suns center Marcin Gortat, a former Mavs free agency target who has blossomed in his first season as a full-time starter, averaging 16.2 points, 10.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks.

W2W4: Steve Nash coming on as season grinds on

January, 23, 2012
1/23/12
11:00
AM CT
The last time Steve Nash was in town three weeks ago, he wrapped up his morning shootaround with some free throws and headed to the small group of media members waiting for him.

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Mavs TV announcer Bob Ortegal talks about the decision to rest Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd's struggles and much more.

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As he wiped the matted strings of hair from his sweaty brow, Nash was asked what, with his 38th birthday approaching on Feb. 7, motivates him to keep going.

"Money," Nash said, not missing a beat.

His straight face quickly lit up with a smile, and he talked about his love for the game and that he'll keep going until he can't. He didn't say he wanted to play until age 40 as Dallas Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd, who turns 39 two months from today, has said. But clearly he has no designs on going away quietly.

Nash's scoring has picked up considerably since the Phoenix Suns' last trip through town on Jan. 4, which has coincided with his shooting percentage rising to 55.0 percent. Nash is making a solid case for an eighth All-Star selection, averaging 14.8 points and a league-leading 10.0 assists.

Nash won't get any of those fun matchups when defensive switches sometimes finds the guard going up against his 7-foot buddy Dirk Nowitzki, who will sit out his second of four games to help get his right knee back.

The Suns don't score it like they used to, but they'll look to run the Mavs, who's depth is depleted by two key rotation players (also Vince Carter).

Records: Suns (6-9); Mavs (10-7)
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: American Airlines Center
TV: FSSW
Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM; 1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: Lamar Odom will likely again start for Nowitzki at power forward and it should lead to more minutes than he's been seeing as a reserve. Odom played 26 minutes at New Orleans on Saturday, tying for the second-most minutes of the season. He had his best game with a season-high 16 points. If Odom can use Nowitzki's injury to improve his struggling game and gain some confidence moving forward then it can only be a good thing for him and the team. This a big one for the Mavs, who would like to take advantage of a four-game homestand and doing that starts with a win tonight over a sub-.500 team.

Key matchup: Marcin Gortat vs. Brendan Haywood/Ian Mahinmi
Gortat, who once-upon-a-time thought he would be a Maverick has certainly emerged as an agile and skilled big man who is flourishing playing with Nash. He is averaging 14.7 points, nearly 10 more a game than when he played behind Dwight Howard at Orlando, and 10.0 rebounds. Gortat put up 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting, and 10 boards in the Jan. 4 meeting against the Mavs. He enters this one with eight double-doubles and seven in a row.

Injuries: Suns - None. Mavs - F Dirk Nowitzki (sore right knee) is out; G Vince Carter (sprained left foot ) is out.

Up next: Minnesota Timberwolves at Mavs, 7:30 p.m., Wednesday

After 3: Mavs 77, Suns 66

January, 4, 2012
1/04/12
9:20
PM CT
DALLAS -- The highlight of the quarter was a Jason Kidd to Rodrigue Beaubois alley-oop in which Roddy was well above the rim, reached back with both hands to corral the high pass and slammed it in.

Shortly after that, Kidd ended a personal nine-quarter scoring drought with a 3-pointer that put the Mavs back up by 10 after building a 13-point lead thanks to consecutive steals that turned into five quick points.

Amazingly, Dallas ended the quarter with a worse shooting percentage than the Suns (43.5-41.7). But, 15 Phoenix Suns turnovers for a 15-6 lead in points off turnovers has been a detriment. The Mavs are winning the rebound battle, 42-36, and they kept alive the final possession a couple of times, leading to a buzzer-beating 3 by Jason Terry.

Dirk Nowitzki still leads the Mavs with 18 points on 6-of-14 shooting. Lamar Odom and Shawn Marion each have 11. Grant Hill, Steve Nash and Marcin Gortat all have 12 points for the Suns.

At the half: Mavs 49, Suns 41

January, 4, 2012
1/04/12
8:40
PM CT
DALLAS -- Rick Carlisle is in experimental mode with lineups, trying to get a good look at different combinations. Early in the second quarter a big lineup that featured Lamar Odom playing point forward, along with Jason Terry, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki and Ian Mahinmi -- then with Marion in for Nowitzki -- expanded a 31-28 lead to 42-32.

The Suns, struggling with a 10 turnovers and poor shooting (38.6 percent), made a mild rally to cut the deficit to four before going down by eight at halftime.

This probably should be a bigger lead for Dallas, but its shooting just 37.5 percent.

Nowitzki has 13 points on 4-of-10 shooting. Brendan Haywood has four points and 11 rebounds. Odom has nine points, four coming off nice passes from Carter in that stint with the big lineup. Shawn Marion, playing with a cold that kept him out of the morning shootaround, has seven points.

Marcin Gortat leads Phoenix with 10 points. Steve Nash has seven points and six assists.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Monta Ellis
PTS AST STL MIN
20.9 4.5 1.7 34.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsT. Chandler 11.9
AssistsR. Rondo 9.3
StealsR. Rondo 2.0
BlocksT. Chandler 1.4