Dallas Mavericks: Mark Cuban

Cuban: Mavs might save $2.7M exception

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks are in discussions with a couple of candidates for their $2.7 million cap-room exception, but owner Mark Cuban made it clear that the team isn’t desperate to fill that slot this summer.

“We’re talking to a couple of players, but it’s one of those things that if we don’t get the right player, we’ll just hold it so that during the season when a player gets cut, we’ll have that opportunity to offer,” Cuban said during a Tuesday appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s “Fitzsimmons and Friedo.”

There has been mutual interest between the Mavs and guard Mo Williams throughout the free-agency period. However, Williams has offers for more than the $2.7 million salary the Mavs can offer, sources said.

A source also told ESPNDallas.com recently that Williams wasn’t the Mavs’ top target for their $2.7 million exception, declining to elaborate on the player who is a higher priority. (Jameer Nelson?)

If the Mavs opt not to use the exception this summer, they’d be positioned to outbid many teams for veteran players who receive midseason buyouts. That is how the Mavs acquired swingman Corey Brewer during the 2011 title season.

Contending in Dallas priceless to Dirk

July, 15, 2014
Jul 15
What would another championship with the Dallas Mavericks be worth to Dirk Nowitzki?

The answer is probably priceless.

[+] EnlargeMark Cuban and Dirk Nowitzki
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsTrue loyalty: Dirk Nowitzki desperately wants to win another title, but departing Dallas to do it was never an option he considered.
If you want to go with an actual dollar figure, start somewhere in the $50 million range. Nowitzki left at least that much money on the table by taking a three-year, $25 million deal to return to the Mavs instead of listening to pitches from teams interested in paying him around the max, as ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported.

This wasn’t just about Dirk’s desire to win. If that’s all that mattered, he’d be headed to Houston. The Rockets would have loved nothing more than to put the sweetest-shooting 7-footer in NBA history on the floor with shooting guard James Harden and center Dwight Howard. The Rockets would have kept Chandler Parsons in that case and featured the best starting five in the NBA.

Nowitzki, however, is too loyal to consider leaving the only NBA home he’s ever known. He desperately wants to contend for another championship, but departing Dallas to do it was never an option he considered.

Maybe it’d be different if there hadn't been a championship parade in downtown Dallas a few summers ago. If Nowitzki still didn’t own a championship ring, the thought of a Karl Malone-like, late-career jump to a contender would surely have been tempting.

But, with a Finals MVP trophy on his mantel, Nowitzki can comfortably continue his longtime plan to be a one-team man.

The choice Nowitzki made more than a year ago, when he publicly committed to taking a Tim Duncan-like discount to stay in Dallas when his contract expired this summer, was to sacrifice a small fortune to maximize the Mavs’ chances of contending for a championship during his golden years.

It’s not like Mark Cuban had a tough time negotiating with Nowitzki, who has never had an agent. At this point in his career, Nowitzki is essentially an assistant general manager, so it was just a matter of figuring out how massive his pay cut needed to be to allow the Mavs to fill their needs.

This is an unprecedented hometown discount, coming in at $5 million less than Duncan’s deal over the course of his contract. Nowitzki, who took $16 million under max on his previous contract, gave the Mavs enough salary cap wiggle room to overpay Parsons and re-sign Devin Harris after Dallas traded for Tyson Chandler.

The Dirk discount also guarantees that the Mavs will be major players in next summer’s free agency shopping as well. It also might plant seeds of sacrifice in the mind of Monta Ellis, who can opt out of his three-year, $25 million contract next summer or wait a year to be paid market value by the Mavs.

Clearly, Nowitzki is never going to have to plead poverty after making more than $200 million during his career, but he’s gone above and beyond with his loyalty and generosity to Dallas. That is true as the face of the franchise and a community man, as anyone who saw him grant every autograph request long after the lights were out at his sold-out charity baseball game last month can attest.

Nowitzki has two goals for the rest of his career: Retire as a Maverick and win another championship, in that order of importance. The money doesn’t matter that much.

Mavs strike with aggression this summer

July, 15, 2014
Jul 15
LAS VEGAS -- After pushing the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs to a Game 7 in the first round, the Dallas Mavericks will return with a much different roster next season.

The Mavs have acquired center Tyson Chandler, small forward Chandler Parsons, point guard Raymond Felton, a young big man in Greg Smith and a veteran perimeter forward in Richard Jefferson. They have been incredibly aggressive this summer. As always, they've tried to stay opportunistic in the market, whether it be by trade or the free-agent market. To this point, they've done well.

[+] EnlargeRichard Jefferson
Brad Rempel/USA TODAY SportsRichard Jefferson will join his sixth team, having played for the New Jersey Nets, Milwaukee, San Antonio, Golden State and Utah in his 13-year career.
"Ideal would have been Carmelo and LeBron coming for the minimum, but that didn't happen," Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson told ESPN Dallas on Monday.

You can't fault Nelson for being ambitious or for his wit. The Mavs ultimately got the man they wanted in Parsons. It was a move that was priority No. 1 for Dallas.

"We targeted Parsons from a very early stage. We feel he can play 4, 3. He can shoot the long ball, he can get the ball into the gut and make passes," Nelson said. "He's also a team guy and he knows what to do without the ball. He can grab it off the glass and push the ball. He knows what to do without the ball and doesn't need the ball to be effective.

"Where do you stop? He's kind of a perfect, tailored guy for the Mavericks."

Looking around the league, a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers are going to come out smelling like roses in regard to their summer spending. That said, you can't discount what Dallas has done as they've made big moves. Continuity was a big buzzword for the Mavs going into the offseason. Continuity is nice, but getting better talent is, well, better.

"We're doing well. We're changing the team, we're getting it better and improving," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle told ESPN Dallas. "Those are all things that are exciting. We've got more spaces to fill and we've got more good prospects. We're going to keep pushing forward."


Who will have a bigger impact on the Mavs this season?


Discuss (Total votes: 15,457)

The three members of the Mavs' brain trust -- Mark Cuban, Nelson and Carlisle -- likely will go on their own separate paths for the remainder of the week. While that might be the case, all three have been hovering around the gyms this weekend, watching the summer league team playing and spitballing ideas. Whenever visible, the three of them would have conversations with one another in corners of the arena, formulating ideas to finish out their roster.

Their last major asset left in terms of money is their $2.7 million exception. While they could go different ways with the money, one focus is on their mind.

"I think we're looking for the best player," Nelson said. "As long as we can get that, we're happy. There's lot of backup roles that are needed. We can go in a variety of different directions, from point guard to center. I think we're going to try to get the best possible player we can."

Whoever the final pieces to the puzzle are, they will put a nice shiny bow on a successful offseason. The challenge will then become trying to become successful in terms of regular season and hopefully playoff games.

Monta Ellis likens Parsons to Marion

July, 14, 2014
Jul 14
Chandler ParsonsTroy Taormina/USA TODAY SportsMonta Ellis says that Chandler Parsons reminds him of Shawn Marion because of his versatility.
LAS VEGAS -- Dallas Mavericks guard Monta Ellis had a huge impact in his first year with the Mavericks last season. Now, more help is on the way in Chandler Parsons. With Parsons and the Mavs' other moves this summer, Ellis is pleased with what Dallas' front office has done.

“I think it’s a great addition to the team,” Ellis told 105.3 The Fan on Monday. “I think we did a wonderful job on getting the right group of guys and the right team to try to get farther than we did last year. Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton, and then getting [Chandler] Parsons was an A-plus for us.


Who will have a bigger impact on the Mavs this season?


Discuss (Total votes: 15,457)

"I'm looking forward to the season. He's a great player, and I think he's going to be a great asset to the team.”

Ellis said that he didn't stay too wrapped up in the timelines and countdowns with Parsons over the weekend, but he did exchange texts with Mark Cuban to stay in the loop.

In the end, he wanted to let Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson "do their job." While the front office wasn't able to get the big fish they've been trying to get over the last three seasons, the acquisition of Parsons is one of the final touches to the massive remodel the Mavs made this summer.

While the return of Chandler represents a true anchor in the middle for the Mavs, Parsons is an infusion of youth and versatility that could have a huge impact on their roster for the upcoming season and beyond. Ellis has seen Parsons as an opponent and views him as the real deal.

So who does Parsons remind Ellis of?

"Shawn Marion, but younger," Ellis said in regards to Parsons' versatility.

(Read full post)

Cuban talks LeBron, free-agent options

July, 12, 2014
Jul 12
LAS VEGAS -- LeBron James' decision to go back home to the Cleveland Cavaliers sent shock waves around the league. The city of Cleveland is certainly happy. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said he thought James' decision was a positive one.

"I think it's great for the league," Cuban said as he was watching the Mavs' summer league team play. "As someone who grew up in Pittsburgh, it's great to see the old-school cities like Pittsburgh and Cleveland, we're usually the brunt of the jokes and people talk about leaving.

[+] EnlargeLeBron James
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsLeBron James' decision to return home to Cleveland resonated with Mavs owner Mark Cuban, who is from Pittsburgh.
"It's always good when I go back to Pittsburgh and it's just that type city. It's a Pittsburgh city and Cleveland is very similar. It's great for the area and the city."

James took a massive public-relations hit in 2010 for his one-hour televised special announcing he would join the Miami Heat. Cuban says he believes that time has done wonders for James and his approach to his latest decision.

"It's obvious that LeBron has grown up quite a bit since 'The Decision,'" Cuban said. "How he handled it, his words, his approach were night and day. I think he deserves a lot of respect."

Here are other highlights from Cuban's chat:

Still in doubt
The clock continues to tick as the Houston Rockets have to decide if they're going to match the Mavs' offer for restricted free agent Chandler Parsons. The Rockets have until 10:59 p.m. CT Sunday to decide whether to exercise their right to match the three-year, $46 million offer sheet Parsons signed with the Mavs.

"No," Cuban replied when asked if he had any inkling what Houston would do. "It's just a waiting game. I know what I would do. I don't expect them to do anything different."

Cuban wouldn't divulge what he would do in the situation.

(Read full post)

Larkin clarifies his father's comments on Carlisle, Cuban

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
LAS VEGAS -- At this time last season, New York Knicks point guard Shane Larkin was on the sidelines due to an ankle injury. The surgery forced the then-Dallas Mavericks guard to miss his opportunity at NBA basketball in the Las Vegas Summer League. A year has passed, and Larkin is now a part of the Knicks. Larkin was acquired in the Tyson Chandler-Raymond Felton trade in late June. Shortly after the trade was announced, Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin spoke to the New York Post about the trade.

Shane Larkin wanted to clear the air on the comments.

[+] EnlargeShane Larkin
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsShane Larkin, now with the Knicks, says his father never criticized the Mavs' player development. Rather, Barry Larkin said Dallas was in "win-now mode."
"Let me clarify that situation," Larkin told ESPN Dallas. "My dad never said Coach Carlisle, [Mavs owner Mark] Cuban -- he never said that they don't know how to develop players because I got a lot better last year and I'm a lot better today than I was a year ago, regardless of the injury or anything. What my dad said was that the Dallas Mavericks are in win-now mode.

"Of course you're going to play Devin Harris, you're going to play Jose Calderon, you're going to play Monta Ellis, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki. You're going to play the guys who have proven themselves in the league."

The article quoted Barry Larkin as saying that "Dallas doesn’t do a good job of developing players. They’re in win-now mode. [Coach] Rick Carlisle doesn’t know how to develop young players, and Shane was a rookie. It always was a struggle for him to figure out what was going on."

The Knicks point guard went on to contradict the comments that suggested his father had negative feelings about the Mavs.

"My dad never said that Rick Carlisle is a dummy, [that] he doesn't know what he's doing," Larkin continued. "It's not like that. My dad was just saying that they're a veteran team, they're going to playing their veterans because they want to win right now. That's not saying Shane can't help them, but they're going with the guys that have already proven themselves. That's exactly what he said. Whoever said that my dad was badmouthing the Dallas Mavericks organization, that's a complete lie.

"My dad has mad love for everybody in Dallas. He called Coach Carlisle, he called Cuban and he told him that the reporter took it out of proportion. I just wanted to clarify it for everybody, everybody in Dallas. That's not what happened."

Larkin was presented early with an interesting situation as he got to face his former team in the first game of the Las Vegas Summer League. Larkin said that he certainly doesn't have any bad feelings toward the team he was with during his rookie season.

"They did what was good for them, what was going to make them a better team," Larkin explained. "Dirk is getting towards the end of his career, so they had to bring in players who could help him now. I completely understood the situation. They did what they did. Now I'm in New York, and I'm in a great situation where I can hopefully grow in their system and get better and hopefully just become a great player in this league."

Larkin gets a fresh start in New York, but he wanted to make sure Dallas knew that there wasn't any real bad blood.
Now what will Daryl Morey do?

The Houston Rockets were willing to step into luxury-tax territory to exercise their right to keep Chandler Parsons if they were first able to sign Chris Bosh to a near-max deal. That scenario is off the table, however, after Bosh's decision to take more money to stay in Miami.

Will the Rockets still match the Dallas Mavericks' three-year, $46 million offer to the restricted free-agent small forward? At this point, the only sure thing is that we will find out by 10:59 p.m. CT Sunday night.

The Rockets were willing to pay a steep price for Parsons if they succeeded in their offseason mission to add a stretch-shooting All-Star power forward to complement their current stars, shooting guard James Harden and center Dwight Howard. But that plan was messed up when Houston missed out on Bosh.

Maybe Morey, the Rockets' ultra-aggressive general manager, will decide to keep the core of Houston's 54-win team from last season together. Perhaps he'll swallow hard and agree to pay Parsons more than $15 million per year, knowing that would take the Rockets out of the Kevin Love sweepstakes if there is one next summer.

This certainly isn't the decision Morey thought he'd have to make this summer.

First, Morey couldn't have anticipated Parsons signing such a massive offer sheet when the Rockets made him a restricted free agent by declining the team option to pay him $965,000 next season in the final year of the former second-round pick's rookie contract. Mark Cuban and the Mavs threw a major wrench in the Rockets' plans by getting Parsons to agree to a near-max offer as soon as a deal could be signed.

Morey also believed he'd have a premier stretch-shooting power forward in place -- a perfect fit with Harden and Howard -- before the clock ran out on the Rockets' right to match Parsons. Pat Riley and the Heat threw a wrench into those plans by making Bosh a lot richer.

The Mavs and Heat, two-time Finals foes, formed a tag team of sorts to make Morey's job as hard as possible this summer.

How will Morey respond? Stay tuned.
Chandler ParsonsGeorge Bridges/MCT/Getty ImagesDallas' offer sheet to Chandler Parsons further intensifies the rivalry between the Mavs and Rockets.
This Chandler Parsons offer sheet is business for the Dallas Mavericks, but if Mark Cuban is being honest, it’s also personal.

Cuban might never admit this publicly, but he’s surely taking great pleasure in forcing Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey to scramble.

There is mutual respect between the front offices in Dallas and Houston, two franchises that have been at the forefront of the NBA’s analytics revolution, with tech-geek Cuban and MIT-educated Morey leading the way. There is also a pretty intense rivalry brewing between those front offices and particularly the two men who are accustomed to being the smartest guy in the room.

Remember that text message Morey sent Cuban last summer inquiring about a deal for Dirk Nowitzki? Cuban took it as a taunt after Dwight Howard declined overtures from Dallas and others to head to Houston. Morey later claimed that it was a panicked plea when he momentarily thought the Rockets didn’t win the Dwight sweepstakes. Sure.

What about the leaks this summer that the Rockets would love to pay Nowitzki like a superstar? Dirk’s intention to give the Mavs a massive hometown discount had been on the record for a full year.

Of course, Cuban is far from an innocent victim in all of this. His recruiting pitch to Howard took shots at the Rockets, such as referencing the fact that Houston has won a grand total of one playoff series in the last decade and a half, contrasting that to the championship culture the Mavs have created. You can bet that got back to Morey.

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Overpaying Parsons makes sense for Mavs

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
By no means did the Dallas Mavericks enter the summer planning to pay more than $15 million per year to a small forward who has never played in an All-Star Game.

[+] EnlargeChandler Parsons
George Bridges/MCT/Getty ImagesBy signing Chandler Parsons to a $45 million offer sheet, the Mavs have set up a difficult decision for the Rockets.
A strong argument can be made that Chandler Parsons will be overpaid while earning more than $45 million over the next three seasons, the value of the offer sheet the restricted free agent signed Wednesday night. But making the deal so big was a calculated business move by owner Mark Cuban and the Mavs.

Simply put, the Mavs wanted to make it as painful as possible for the Houston Rockets to exercise their right to match the offer to Parsons, the promising, productive small forward who is just entering his prime at 25.

As detailed by dallasbasketball.com, the Mavs have thrown a major wrench into the rival Rockets' offseason plans. The offer sheet to Parsons, along with the max salaries of Dwight Howard and James Harden, makes it practically impossible for Houston to execute the one-two punch of signing Chris Bosh to a max deal and keeping Parsons, even if the Rockets shed the salaries of every other player on the roster.

Houston general manager Daryl Morey has been forced into making difficult decisions the next few days. Does he scramble to dump salaries, attempt to talk Bosh into taking a less-than-max deal, and enter luxury-tax territory by matching the offer to Parsons? Does Morey swallow hard and pay Parsons much more than the Rockets planned while keeping their bargain-priced role players, sacrificing the ability to make a major addition to the core of a team that failed to get out of the first round of the playoffs?

These can't be the kinds of decisions Morey saw coming when he declined the option to pay Parsons $965,000 next season, a move the Rockets' front office surely regrets right now.

Maybe Morey believed that having the restricted tag on Parsons, who would have been an unrestricted free agent next summer if he completed his rookie deal, would depress his value in the open market. It had the opposite effect, as was the case with Utah Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward, who signed a four-year, $63 million offer sheet with the Charlotte Hornets.

Morey clearly hoped that Parsons would play ball with the Rockets, waiting until Houston had taken care of its other major business before cashing in with a big contract. However, Parsons obviously felt the need to put pressure on the Rockets to get paid as much as possible.

If the Mavs are being honest, they'll admit that Parsons will be overpaid, no matter the market trend. They pegged the Plan B tier of small forwards in free agency -- Parsons, Hayward, Trevor Ariza and Luol Deng -- as a group whose value ranged from $8 million to $12 million per year.

Parson was the Mavs' preferred target among the Plan Bs, but they had to go big if they were going to roll the dice on a restricted free agent who fits in the plans of his current team. The asking prices of Ariza and Deng are higher than the Mavs' perceived value of those players, so Dallas was going to have to bid higher than they hoped to get any small forward in that tier. If that's the case, it makes the most sense to do so with Parsons, whose arrow is going up after averaging career highs of 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists last season.

The hometown-discount deal of Dirk Nowitzki gives the Mavs the luxury of overpaying to upgrade at small forward. Nowitzki's new three-year deal will pay him in the neighborhood of $10 million per season, a number the Rockets would double in a heartbeat if they could get their hands on the sweetest-shooting 7-footer in NBA history.

Parsons at $15 million per year? That's an awfully steep price.

A Nowitzki-Parsons forward pair at $25 million per year? That's an awesome value.

Parsons signs, parties with Cuban

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
Chandler Parsons signed the Mavericks’ offer sheet and celebrated with friends, family and his billionaire buddy, Mavs owner Mark Cuban.

Parsons inked the three-year deal worth more than $45 million early Thursday morning at a club near his Florida home and then proceeded to party with Cuban and the rest of the crew.

Cuban shared several photos with Mavs fans via his messaging app Cyber Dust. Parsons’ friends and family also posted photos on Twitter.

The Houston Rockets can spoil Cuban’s fun by exercising their right to match the offer for the restricted free agent within the allotted three days. But Parsons will be paid more than $15 million per year regardless, which is certainly reason to celebrate after being a six-figure bargain his first few seasons in the NBA.

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.
MavericksSoobum Im/USA TODAY SportsThe Mavs' Dirk Nowitzki and Spurs' Tim Duncan stayed loyal to their franchises.

The numbers were the only thing in doubt when it came to Dirk Nowitzki's negotiations, and even those were pretty predictable.

It’s fitting that Dirk’s three-year, $30 million deal will look a lot like Tim Duncan's. Those future Hall of Famers are two of a kind, a pair of historically elite power forwards for whom loyalty, competitiveness and unselfishness are all intertwined.

It’s commendable to be committed to spending your entire career with one franchise, a rarity in a sports world in which the first week of free agency seems to generate more interest than the NBA Finals. But these two faces of their franchises have sacrificed fortunes to significantly increase their odds of completing their careers on championship contenders.

Kobe Bryant showed a certain sense of loyalty with his commitment to play his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers. He’ll also make more next season than the Mavs and San Antonio Spurs will pay Nowitzki and Duncan combined.

Duncan’s sacrifice, a shared one with longtime teammates Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, paid off when the Spurs claimed their fifth NBA crown in June. Nowitzki’s sacrifice just gives the Mavs a chance to rebuild a legitimate contender, a process that requires at least a couple of big steps after he left about $17 million of cap space for Mark Cuban to spend this summer.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Nowitzki has taken much less than market value to stay with the Mavs. He could have easily gotten a max contract the last time he was technically a free agent, but he left $16 million on the table to sign a four-year, $80 million deal.

That sacrifice didn’t even free up cap space. It just eased a bit of the financial burden on Cuban, who had been paying massive luxury-tax bills. In exchange, Cuban vowed to never let money get in the way of the Mavs’ pursuit of a championship, following through by trading for Tyson Chandler in a salary-dump deal with Charlotte.

Less than a year later, Nowitzki and Cuban chugged champagne out of a $90,000 bottle that went on Cuban’s bill, a small price to pay for celebrating the franchise’s first championship in a Miami nightclub.

That taste of a title ensured that Nowitzki would be a Maverick for life.

If Dirk didn’t own a championship ring, if he hadn’t filled out that final line of his NBA legend résumé, he would have faced a difficult decision this summer. He probably would have agonized over whether to choose loyalty to a franchise and a fan base or the chance to leave his adopted hometown to chase a championship, a la Karl Malone.

But the championship banner hanging from the American Airlines Center rafters made Nowitzki’s decision a no-brainer.

The negotiations with Nowitzki, who has never employed an agent, were easy. Now, there’s a lot of hard work to be done for the Mavs’ front office to reward Dirk’s loyalty like the Spurs have done for Duncan.

Melo meeting lasts two hours

July, 2, 2014
Jul 2
DALLAS -- The third stop on Carmelo Anthony's free-agency tour was the shortest so far, as his meeting with the Dallas Mavericks lasted a little longer than two hours.

Anthony spent approximately nine hours with the Chicago Bulls' contingent on Tuesday, including dinner after a session at the United Center and tour of the team's under-construction facilities.

The perennial All-Star forward spent almost six hours with the Houston Rockets' recruiting committee, starting at the Toyota Center and continuing at lunch.

The Mavs' meeting with Anthony, who will visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday before listening to the New York Knicks' pitch to re-sign him, occurred at owner Mark Cuban's mansion, a source said.

The Bulls and Rockets made public displays of their affection for Anthony, posting large, photoshopped signs outside their arenas of him wearing No. 7 in their respective uniforms.

There was no such pomp and circumstances from the Mavs. Dallas' meat-and-potatoes pitch emphasized the opportunity to contend immediately with elite coach Rick Carlisle, selfless star Dirk Nowitzki and a quality supporting cast featuring high-scoring guard Monta Ellis and defense-minded center Tyson Chandler. The Mavs also focused on the creativity and proven track record of the front office, stressing their plan to sustain a contender throughout Anthony's prime and ability to add at least one more major piece next summer.

The Mavs will wait on Anthony's decision, but sources told ESPN.com that Dallas is ready to move on quickly to Rockets restricted free agent Chandler Parsons or Luol Deng if it doesn't land Anthony.

The Mavs' five-pronged pitch to Melo

July, 1, 2014
Jul 1
Carmelo Anthony Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsThe Mavs have a definite plan when it comes to trying to woo Carmelo Anthony to Dallas.
DALLAS -- There will surely be some bells and whistles during Carmelo Anthony's visit with the Dallas Mavericks, such as entertainment elements and marketing plans.

You can count on money coming up in the conversation, too, with that discussion centering on just how close Mark Cuban can come to a max-contract offer.

But the Dallas decision-makers firmly believe Anthony has the purest intentions as he takes a free-agency tour that started Tuesday in Chicago, will make stops in Houston and Dallas on Wednesday, head west to Los Angeles for a Thursday visit with the Lakers and wrap up with the Knicks trying to talk him into returning to New York.

"There's no question he's entering the phase of his career where he wants to win," a source said, well aware that Anthony has advanced past the first round only twice in 11 NBA seasons after carrying Syracuse to a national title during his lone NCAA campaign.

That's why this will be mostly a meat-and-potatoes presentation. The Mavs' four-man committee of Cuban, president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, coach Rick Carlisle and All-Star power forward Dirk Nowitzki will make a five-pronged pitch appealing to Anthony's burning desire to play for a contender.

[+] EnlargeCarlisle
Brendan Maloney/USA TODAY SportsRick Carlisle has few rivals in the coaching ranks when it comes to game-planning, a trait the Mavs hope will appeal to Carmelo Anthony.
1. Play for an elite coach: Carlisle joins Gregg Popovich, Erik Spoelstra and Doc Rivers as the only active NBA championship coaches, and he has outwitted two of those men in recent playoff series.

Pop's Spurs won the series against the Mavs, but it was by far San Antonio's toughest step to the title, primarily because of Carlisle's game-planning brilliance. That, as well as the underdog Mavs' championship march in 2011, offers tangible evidence of the impact Carlisle can have on a playoff series.

"Everybody thought we were going to get crushed," Cuban said recently. "That allows us not to say, 'Hey, we played them the best,' but allows us to say, 'Look, when it comes to the playoffs in particular, Rick has got the skill set and we've got veteran guys who know how to implement offensive and defensive strategies that really give us a unique opportunity.' That's something that very few teams can say.

"If you look at other teams with cap room and then you just look at their coach and if they've made the playoffs, you look at how their playoff runs went, you're not looking at them and saying, 'Wow, that team really ... .' I don't want to throw anybody under the bus, but their coaches are not as good as Rick Carlisle."

Carlisle is also considered one of the NBA's most creative offensive minds. His ideas of how to help Anthony be more efficient should be welcomed by a 30-year-old who has had to work hard for most of his nearly 20,000 career points.

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Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s first order of business in free agency was to meet point guard Devin Harris for dinner.

Well, unless he called Dirk Nowitzki and Vince Carter en route to the restaurant. There were also plans to contact Shawn Marion soon after free agency officially opened at 11:01 p.m. CT Monday night.

Devin Harris
Mark D. Smith/USA TODAY SportsThe Mavericks hope to re-sign point guard Devin Harris, according to a team source.
Cuban and other members of the Dallas front office will reach out to the agents of dozens of other free agents late Monday and in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. These phone calls will be feelers, considering the Mavs hope to use their approximately $26 million in salary-cap space to sign Carmelo Anthony in addition to the certainty of re-signing Nowitzi to a to-be-negotiated hometown-discount deal.

The Mavs are scheduled to visit with Anthony on Wednesday afternoon in Dallas. They are third in the perennial All-Star forward’s lineup after the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets and before the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks.

Rockets small forward Chandler Parsons is among the players in whom the Mavs registered interest, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported. Parsons is a restricted free agent, but Houston could decline to match an offer if it is successfully recruiting Anthony.

While the Mavs hope to keep all of their key free agents, it’s unlikely, particularly if they replace Marion as the starting small forward.

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Dirk Nowitzki
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
ReboundsS. Marion 6.5
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9