Dallas Mavericks: Patrick Beverley

Nick Calathes, the Dallas Mavericks’ 2009 second-round pick who spent the last four seasons playing overseas, has made it clear that he wants to begin his NBA career.

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Whether that happens in Dallas remains to be determined.

Calathes, 24, a 6-foot-6 point guard, visited the Mavs this week. He worked out with coach Rick Carlisle and met with team officials. According to a source, mutual interest was expressed in Calathes potentially playing for the Mavs’ summer league team and coming to training camp, but the franchise needs to see how the draft and free agency plays out before deciding whether Calathes is a fit for their roster.

If the Mavs don’t have room for Calathes, they’d be willing to trade him, likely getting a second-round pick in return.

There has been some interest in Calathes from other NBA teams since he averaged 12.9 points, 6.7 assists and 5.9 rebounds and earning MVP honors while leading Russian team Lokomotiv Kuban to its first EuroCup championship in April. (Guard Patrick Beverley, a quality role player for the Houston Rockets last season, was the 2012 EuroCup MVP.)

The former Florida guard is under contract with his Russian team for next season, but it can be bought out. If Calathes is on the Mavs’ roster next season, it would be in a reserve role.

As ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported, the Mavs also worked out point guard Gal Mekel, the Israel league MVP, this week.
ESPNDallas.com will compare the Mavericks, Lakers and Rockets in five facets -- other than money -- that could play a role in Dwight Howard's free agency decision in a one-per-day series: owners/front office, coaches, co-stars, supporting casts and franchise tradition. We focused on Chris Paul last week.

The Lakers and Mavericks are in similar situations when it comes to their supporting casts: They have to sell hope.

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They can both make a pitch about being competitive next season with a veteran core surrounding Dwight Howard, although that didn’t work in Los Angeles last season and the Mavs would need to do some relatively significant salary-cap tinkering to keep both Shawn Marion and Vince Carter while creating room to give Howard a max contract.

What about the future?

Like the Mavs, a lot of money comes off the Lakers’ books next summer. Steve Nash, whose physical breakdown finally happened almost a decade after leaving Dallas, is the lone Laker under contract for the 2014-15 season. The Mavs only have option years for last season’s rookies on their 2014-15 ledger.

You can make a strong case that L.A. would be a more attractive destination for free agents than Dallas, but there’s one major wild card. Would Kobe Bryant, the league’s highest-paid player, be willing to take the major pay cut to give the Lakers the flexibility required to make significant additions to a Dwight/Kobe core? Dirk Nowitzki’s willingness to slash his salary will be part of the Mavs’ pitch.

The Rockets have the advantage of already having a potential long-term supporting cast in place. They might have to slice into that cast a bit to make room for Howard, but they have young building blocks such as Chandler Parsons, Donatas Motiejunas and Patrick Beverley under contract at bargain rates for at least two more seasons.

Parsons, the second-round steal who averaged 15.5 points in his second season, could be a phenomenal complementary piece for Howard and James Harden for years to come. The multi-skilled 6-foot-9 small forward’s perimeter shooting makes him a perfect fit for the Rockets’ system and accentuates the offensive strengths of the potential Houston co-stars.

A commitment from Houston ownership to keep Parsons when his contract expires after the 2014-15 season could go a long way.

EDGE: Rockets
DALLAS – The last time the Mavericks endured a losing season, there was a lot of legitimate, tangible reason for hope.

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ESPN.com senior NBA writer Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to talk about the Mavericks and what it might take to fix their problems.

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Michael Finley was an established, young franchise cornerstone. Steve Nash turned a corner in his career midway through that season, when he was 25 years old. And a 21-year-old finesse 7-footer named Dirk Nowitzki had begun blossoming into a star.

Those 1999-2000 Mavs finished the season with a 31-19 run, setting the foundation for the franchise’s dozen-year playoff run that will almost certainly end in six weeks.

Let’s be optimistic and assume these Mavs, who are seven games under .500 with a little more than a quarter of the season remaining, manage to end this frustrating season strong. Is there anything that can happen down the stretch that could benefit the Mavs in the future, much like their last losing season?

[+] EnlargeCollison
AP Photo/John RaouxDarren Collison has continually ceded crunch-time minutes and doesn't really seem like a long-term fit with the Mavs.
“That’s tough to see,” Nowitzki said. “Obviously, we’ve got nine guys or whatever we’ve got on one-year deals, so the team might be completely different next year. We didn’t have that scenario (13) years ago. We obviously knew that Steve and Mike and myself were going to be the core for a lot of years, so we had that going for us, which this year is not the case.”

And that might be the most frustrating part of this miserable season. The Mavs aren’t experiencing growing pains that could pay off next season. They’re just passing time.

There was a ton of talk about potentially developing the backcourt of the future this season with 25-year-old rentals Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo. Mark Cuban and Rick Carlisle continue to dangle that carrot, but it’s extremely hard to envision that being a reality.

If the Mavs see Collison as their point guard of the future, why did he lose his starting job to a point guard they recruited out of his rocking chair earlier this season? And, after Derek Fisher’s departure, why does Collison keep losing crunch-time minutes to a different graybeard point guard that was called up from the D-League?

The Mavs and Collison just don’t seem to be a long-term fit. As far as Mayo goes, that probably depends on the market this summer for the Mavs’ leading scorer whose decision-making and defense have repeatedly drawn Carlisle’s wrath.

The rest of the Mavs’ one-year men are a collection of complementary players, not building blocks, at this point of their careers. They’re essentially financial placeholders, and the vast majority (if not all) of them will be on another team’s payroll next season.

Any hope for a major Mavs rebound would arrive this summer, not be foreshadowed in the final 23 games.

“We went for a big fish last summer,” Nowitzki said. “We didn’t get him, so we decided to go that route with a lot of one-year deals, so the situation could be completely different next year. We’re going to make this push for the playoffs and see what happens this summer.”

The Mavs’ foe for this home-and-home series also looks forward to seeing what happens this summer. However, the Houston Rockets are somewhat reminiscent of the ’99-00 Mavs, albeit with a better record and a good shot at making the playoffs.

The Rockets have managed to put together a tremendous young nucleus while almost totally turning over their roster since last season. Chandler Parsons, the second-year second-round pick who scorched the Mavs for 32 points in Sunday’s rout, is the only player remaining from Houston’s roster last season.

Houston GM Daryl Morey has done a masterful job collecting assets, cashing in many of them to acquire a bona fide, 23-year-old superstar (James Harden) and surrounding him with a strong young supporting cast (center Omer Asik, 26; point guard Jeremy Lin, 24; small forward Parsons, 24; power forwards Donatas Motiejunas, 22; power forward Thomas Robinson, 21, combo guard Patrick Beverley, 24). And the Rockets have the cap space to recruit a co-star this summer.

The Rockets are several steps into their rebuilding plan.

The Mavs’ rebuilding plan begins again this summer.

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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