Dallas Mavericks: Paul Pierce

Mavs' dice roll pays off with Parsons

July, 13, 2014
Jul 13
5:30
PM CT
The Dallas Mavericks’ front office can exhale now.

Its extremely risky roll of the dice did not come up snake eyes. Restricted free agent small forward Chandler Parsons is officially a member of the Mavericks after the Houston Rockets declined their right to match the three-year, $46 million offer sheet to him.

[+] EnlargeChandler Parsons
Troy Taormina/USA TODAY SportsThe Rockets had vowed to match any offer for Chandler Parsons, but fortunately for the Mavs changed their tune after missing out on All-Star power forward Chris Bosh.
At more than $15 million per year, the Mavs are overpaying for Parsons, but they are happy to do it, a luxury afforded by Dirk Nowitzki accepting a major hometown discount on his soon-to-be-official deal for three years in the neighborhood of $30 million. Other than proven superstars LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, the Dallas decision-makers considered Parsons to be by far the best option in this free-agency class to fill their need at small forward.

The Mavs bid high on Parsons, whose deal is just shy of a max contract, because they wanted to call Houston’s bluff as boldly as possible. The Rockets had vowed to match any offer for Parsons -- who would have been paid $965,000 next season if Houston didn’t decline the team option for the last year of his rookie deal -- but changed their plans after missing out on All-Star power forward Chris Bosh in free agency.

There was certainly some luck involved in the Dallas front office's success. The Mavs signed Parsons to the big offer sheet believing LeBron James would go to Cleveland, a domino that would cause Bosh to head to Houston. The Mavs' hope was that the Rockets would wince at paying the luxury tax, prompting them to let Parsons leave.

Well, that's not how it all turned out.

Dallas was right about the LeBron domino, but had the Rockets signed Bosh, they'd have kept Parsons as part of arguably the NBA's best starting five next season. Without Bosh, Houston general manager Daryl Morey apparently couldn't stomach the thought of sacrificing future cap flexibility to match the massive offer to the Rockets' third-best player.

So the Mavs' logic didn't end up being right, but they love the result.

Houston agreeing to a four-year, $32 million deal with small forward Trevor Ariza on Saturday was a good sign for the Mavs, but they still expected to hold their breath up until the 10:59 CT Sunday deadline. Houston let the Mavs off the hook about six hours earlier, informing Parsons that he wouldn’t be returning to the Rockets.

By that point, Dallas didn’t have a fallback plan it wanted. Ariza, Luol Deng (Miami Heat) and Paul Pierce (Washington Wizards) all signed elsewhere over the previous 24 hours or so. With all due respect to Shawn Marion, the Mavs wanted to move on from the 36-year-old as their starting small forward. Signing Lance Stephenson would have been an act of desperation for a front office that considered him untouchable due to character concerns when free agency opened.

The Mavs don’t have to worry about any of that now.

They didn’t accomplish their long-standing goal of signing a big fish, but they have hope that the 6-foot-9, skilled, versatile Parsons can grow into a star after averaging 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists in his third NBA season. He’s a proven player with a lot of promise, giving the Mavs a foundation piece whose best basketball is to come.

For the Mavs, that makes Parsons well worth the price, especially after the rest of the board was picked clean.
The Dallas Mavericks might be in love with Lance Stephenson by Monday morning. Or maybe they'll rekindle the flame with Shawn Marion.

At that point, if the Houston Rockets exercise their right to prevent Chandler Parsons from leaving for Dallas, the Mavs could have that closing-time feel. When the favorite targets have left the dance floor, a sense of desperation kicks in and flaws are a lot easier to overlook.

The concerns about Stephenson's character caused the Mavs to consider him untouchable not too long ago. Now, he's at the top of their list of Parsons fallback targets, by process of elimination as much as anything.

The free-agent small forwards flew off the board Saturday. It started with Trevor Ariza signing a four-year, $32 million deal with the Rockets. Paul Pierce went to the Washington Wizards for $11 million over two years. And the Miami Heat are close to locking up Luol Deng to a two-year deal in the $20 million range.

If Deng does commit to Miami, that leaves Stephenson and Marion as the starting-quality small forwards left in free agency, in the eyes of the Mavs. Of course, the 6-foot-5 Stephenson is really a shooting guard whom the Mavs would shift to small forward out of necessity in the Mavs' starting lineup. And the Dallas decision-makers have done everything in their power to replace the 36-year-old Marion, with all due respect to a man who has arguably earned the right to have his No. 0 hang from the American Airlines Center rafters in the not-too-distant future.

If denied Parsons, the Mavs probably will swallow hard and try to sign Stephenson, who has a five-year, $44 million offer on the table to return to the Indiana Pacers.

They'd be betting on the upside of a talented if erratic 23-year-old who joined Kevin Durant, Kevin Love and Nicolas Batum as the league's only players to average at least 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists last season. The Mavs might try to minimize the risk by offering a higher salary on a short-term deal.

An offer for Marion, who has said he hopes to play two more seasons before retiring in the Dallas area, would obviously be short term. It probably would be in the range of $5 million per year, leaving the Mavs plenty of wiggle room under the salary cap, not that there are many appealing options left at any positions in the market.

Cuban: Stephenson 'certainly on the list'

July, 12, 2014
Jul 12
11:37
AM CT
Add Lance Stephenson to the list of the Mavericks’ targets if the Houston Rockets exercise their right to match the three-year, $46 million offer sheet to Chandler Parsons.

Stephenson, who was considered toxic by the Mavs due to his character issues a couple of months ago, is somewhere on the top tier with Trevor Ariza and Luol Deng, a source told ESPNDallas.com. There is not a consensus opinion among the Dallas decision-makers about the rankings of those three unrestricted free agents.

"We're exploring a lot of options, a lot of different people," Cuban told reporters at the Las Vegas summer league later Saturday, after Ariza agreed to a four-year, $32 million deal with the Rockets. "Hopefully, the Rockets won't match and we'll have Chandler and that changes what we're able to do but Lance is certainly on the list."

The 23-year-old Stephenson, who has balked at the Indiana Pacers' attempt to re-sign him to a five-year, $44 million deal, unquestionably has the highest upside of the Mavs’ options if Parsons returns to the Rockets. He averaged 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists for the 56-win Pacers last season.

However, there are significant concerns about how Stephenson’s antics would affect the Mavs’ chemistry. His immaturity and tendency to rub his teammates the wrong way was cited as one of the factors for the Pacers’ slide in the second half of the season.

There are several examples of players who were considered character risks when the Mavs acquired them flourishing in Dallas. There are also cases such as Josh Howard and Lamar Odom, where character issues led to painful endings.

It's a matter of how much the Mavs are willing to pay to roll the dice on fire and ice.

At 6-foot-5, Stephenson played primarily shooting guard in Indiana but would start at small forward in Dallas.

It would not be ideal to pair 6-foot-3 Monta Ellis and Stephenson on the wings, making the Mavs a little undersized at both spots. But the rugged, 230-pound Stephenson is an upgrade over Shawn Marion as a rebounder – and Marion led the Mavs in rebounding the last three seasons. The Mavs also believe the presence of Tyson Chandler would minimize the defensive issues of being so short on the wings.

The Mavs also continue to be in contact with the agents of Paul Pierce and Marion, but they are on a tier below Ariza, Deng and now Stephenson.
Luol Deng, Shawn Marion, Trevor Ariza Getty ImagesLuol Deng, Shawn Marion and Trevor Ariza could be among the Mavs' options at small forward.
The Dallas Mavericks, well-aware of the Houston Rockets’ ambitious plan to match the Mavs' offer to Chandler Parsons and hopefully sign Chris Bosh, must make exploring alternative scenarios at small forward their priority.

The Mavs will be handcuffed until the Rockets officially match the offer, which could happen as late as 10:59 p.m. CT Sunday.

There is still a possibility that Houston can’t execute its plan and Parsons ends up in Dallas, but the Mavs are moving on. Actually, they never stopped their conversations with the agents of other small forwards on their short list.

Of course, those agents are talking to several teams around the league. There’s no guarantee that these guys will be available when the Mavs can get back to doing business.

A look at those players:

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If the Rockets match the Mavs' offer to Chandler Parsons, who will be the best option for Dallas at small forward?

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Luol Deng

What he wants: A multiyear deal with a starting salary of at least $12 million

Pros: The 6-foot-8 Deng is an elite defender capable of guarding multiple positions and a versatile scorer who has averaged 16 points per game in his career. He’s also considered to have outstanding character and would be a great fit for the Mavs’ culture. Coach Rick Carlisle raved about Deng’s toughness when he came to town with the Cleveland Cavaliers last season.

Cons: There are significant concerns about the 29-year-old Deng’s durability after years of being a workhorse for the Chicago Bulls, particularly after he missed 19 games last season, primarily due to a sore Achilles tendon. The fear is that Deng’s decline has begun prematurely, although he’d likely benefit from the supervision of the Mavs’ outstanding medical staff. He’s also a subpar 3-point shooter (32.9 percent for his career), an issue for the Mavs with a backcourt that lacks perimeter shooters.

Trevor Ariza

What he wants: A multiyear deal with a starting salary of $9-11 million

Pros: His strengths suit the Mavs well. Ariza is a very good defender and shoots the 3 well (40.7 percent last season), especially from the corners. He has championship experience as a role player with the 2009 Lakers, and his leadership was a critical element of the Washington Wizards winning just their second playoff series in three decades.

Cons: Ariza’s price tag is based on his production (14.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG) as a 28-year-old in a career year/contract year. That’s a massive commitment to make to a journeyman who has career averages of 9.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game while shooting only 43.4 percent from the floor.

(Read full post)

What will Mavs do if Rockets match?

July, 10, 2014
Jul 10
4:01
PM CT


DALLAS – What would the Dallas Mavericks do if the Houston Rockets exercise their right to match the three-year, $45-plus-million offer to Chandler Parsons?

The short answer: Keep searching for a starting small forward.

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Who would be the best option for the Mavs if Houston matches the offer made to Chandler Parsons?

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“I tell you, we’ve got a lot of greaseboards in that office up there with lots of different scenarios,” Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said. “I can’t tell you which scenario is going pan out, but one of them is going to pan out. We will have a small forward with the Mavericks next year. Guaranteed.”

The Mavs will stay in contact with the agents of Trevor Ariza and Luol Deng, the two unrestricted free agents on Dallas’ Plan B tier of small forwards. They’ll also keep in touch with the representatives of Plan C small forwards Paul Pierce and Shawn Marion. Same with Lance Stephenson and so on.

Of course, the agents for those players will actively pursue deals with other teams during the three-day timetable the Rockets have to make their decision on Parsons. There are several teams in the market for small forwards, so there is a chance the market could be picked pretty thin by Sunday night.

Maybe the Mavs, with no leverage, are left to look through the leftovers Monday. The Dallas decision-makers will hope for the best with the Parsons situation and do everything possible to prepare to avoid the worst if that doesn't work out.

“We have some pretty good ones in the mix now, too,” Nelson said. “Our worst-case scenario is give young Jae Crowder an opportunity.”

Players have leverage in SF market

July, 9, 2014
Jul 9
10:20
AM CT
Chandler ParsonsBill Baptist/NBAE/Getty ImagesChandler Parsons is a long shot because of the Rockets' intention to match any offer he receives.
One NBA front office executive compares free agency to watching frogs in a pond.

There are only so many lily pads for the frogs to hop onto. As those lily pads start getting claimed, the frogs tend to get a little more frantic, or at least more willing to negotiate deals that could be perceived as team friendly.

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Who is the most realistic option for the Mavs at small forward?

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Case in point: Monta Ellis, who settled for a lot less than his initial asking price last summer when the Dallas Mavericks were the lone lily pad left in the pond.

Could a similar scenario unfold in this summer’s market for small forwards? Don’t count on it. There are simply too many lily pads.

The Mavs are one of several teams who have ample space under the salary cap and a glaring need at small forward. Other teams on that list include the Los Angeles Lakers, Charlotte Hornets, Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls and the couple of teams competing for LeBron James, the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Several other teams hold cards because they own Bird rights or can match offers made to restricted free agents. That list includes the New York Knicks (Carmelo Anthony), Utah Jazz (Gordon Hayward), Houston Rockets (Chandler Parsons), Washington Wizards (Trevor Ariza) and Brooklyn Nets (Paul Pierce). And the Los Angeles Clippers are a contender determined to upgrade at small forward, via a sign-and-trade deal.

That’s almost half the league that’s looking for an upgrade at small forward or trying to keep their starter from last season. The Mavs consider only six small forwards to be Plan A or B options in this free-agency market.

(Read full post)



Once upon a time, the Dallas Mavericks were heavily criticized for passing on polished Kansas prospect Paul Pierce to draft some goofy German kid who wasn’t ready for the NBA.

Dirk Nowitzki turned out to be a decent player, to say the least. So did Pierce. They are both destined to spend eternity in Springfield, Massachusetts, the site of the Basketball Hall of Fame.

But Nowitzki and Pierce believe they still have some good basketball left in those legs that have logged 16 NBA seasons. Ages after they went back to back in the 1998 draft -- the ninth and 10th picks, after forgettable players such as Michael Olowokandi, Raef LaFrentz and Robert “Tractor” Traylor went off the board -- there’s a possibility that Pierce and Nowitzki could play together.

[+] EnlargeDirk/Pierce
AP Photo/LM OteroPairing Paul Pierce with Dirk Nowitzki might make sense for the Mavericks.
A case can be made that signing “The Truth” to a short-term deal is the best realistic scenario for the Mavs to upgrade at small forward.

That’s assuming the Mavs can’t pull off the miracle of signing LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony. And that the Houston Rockets will exercise their right to match any offer made to Chandler Parsons, as the Utah Jazz will with Gordon Hayward.

That would leave Luol Deng and Trevor Ariza among the Mavs’ Plan B targets, and they are looking for long-term deals with eight-figure salaries.

Would the Mavs be better off paying a steep price to one of those players for four seasons or making a lesser commitment to Pierce in salary and years?

Pierce, who turns 37 in October, can still play. He isn’t going to add to his 10 All-Star appearances, but he was a productive member of a playoff team last season, averaging 13.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 28 minutes per game for the Brooklyn Nets. He still has the offensive skills to flourish in Rick Carlisle’s flow system next to 7-foot shooter extraordinaire Nowitzki and dynamic driver Monta Ellis.

If the Los Angeles Clippers and Nets can work out a sign-and-trade agreement, Pierce would love to be reunited with Doc Rivers on a contender in Lob City, but those talks have reportedly bogged down. The Mavs, who tried to trade for Pierce a couple of years ago, should be an attractive option to Pierce if his ideal scenario of going to L.A. doesn’t pan out.

After all, the Mavs have a glaring need at small forward and a great recent track record with aging former All-Stars such as Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion and Vince Carter, in part due to their outstanding medical team and Mark Cuban’s commitment to being on the cutting edge of sports science.

The price for Pierce, which figures to be north of the midlevel exception but significantly south of what Ariza and Deng are asking for, would likely leave the Mavs enough room to re-sign Carter as the sixth man and fill out the rotation with a backcourt shooter (Mo Williams or D.J. Augustin?) plus a backup power forward (Jason Smith?) or big-man banger (DeJuan Blair or Emeka Okafor?).

The years of a deal might be as much of a sticking point as the salary in negotiations with Pierce.

Maybe the Mavs could give him a partial guarantee for a second year. Perhaps there could be performance-related triggers that turn it into a player option. The front office could work out those kinds of things with agent Jeff Schwartz, whose long-standing, strong working relationship with the Mavs’ management most recently includes Devin Harris’ new deal.

Pierce makes sense for the Mavs if signing him instead of a Plan B target would allow Dallas to have more depth next season. He makes sense for the Mavs if they value future financial flexibility and fear overpaying for Deng or Ariza.

It also would make a great story, pairing Pierce with Nowitzki years after the daily comparisons between the two.


The Dallas Mavericks believe they have a legitimate shot of landing Carmelo Anthony and will hope for the best, but they better have alternate plans.

That’s why the Mavs were so aggressive in exploring the small-forward market in the first day of free agency.

LeBron James would obviously top the Mavs’ list if he looked to leave Miami, but the belief is he’ll be back with the Heat next season. The Mavs have registered interest in at least seven other small forwards who started last season.

The Plan B group consists of four players who are likely to sign contracts with starting salaries between $8 million and $12 million. The small forwards in the Plan C group are projected to land in the neighborhood of $3 million to $5 million. In either case, the Mavs would have cap room to make moves other than filling the starting spot at small forward.

PLAN B

[+] EnlargeChandler Parsons
Bill Baptist/NBAE/Getty ImagesChandler Parsons is close to a perfect fit for the Mavs on the offensive end, but the Rockets can match any offer he receives.
Chandler Parsons: The 6-foot-9 Parsons can knock down 3s, create off the dribble, averaged 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists as a 25-year-old last season and is pals with Dirk Nowitzki. He’s pretty close to a perfect fit, at least offensively.

Dallas, we have one huge problem: Parsons is a restricted free agent, meaning the Rockets have the right match any offer. If Anthony chooses the Rockets, maybe Houston declines to match a big offer for Parsons, but those two would be compatible in an offensive system that wants its power forwards to be perimeter threats.

It’s probable that Parsons will make eight figures next season after being a six-figure bargain as a second-round pick the last few seasons. The Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics, Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns are among the teams reported to have shown interest.

Gordon Hayward: The 24-year-old Hayward has a lot of similarities to Parsons – a young player who has a versatile offensive game (16.2 ppg, 5.2 apg last season) and is a restricted free agent. All indications coming out of Utah are that the Jazz plan on exercising their right to match any offer that Hayward receives.

But the Mavs might call the Jazz’s bluff. Hayward’s suitors reportedly include the Cleveland Cavaliers, Suns and Celtics, where he could reunite with college coach Brad Stevens.

Trevor Ariza: The 6-foot-8 Ariza is set to cash in after having a career year in a contract year at the age of 28. The Washington Wizards are determined to keep him their 3-and-D guy after Ariza averaged 14.4 points and 6.2 rebounds while defending the opponent’s best wing scorer all season, playing a key role in the franchise winning a playoff series for only the second time in three decades.

While most of the market at this position will wait for Anthony to make his decision, the Wizards are trying to lock up Ariza as soon as possible after giving center Marcin Gortat a five-year, $60 million deal to stay in Washington. Ariza’s other suitors include the Suns, Lakers, Heat, Jazz, Cavaliers and Los Angeles Clippers.

Luol Deng: There is a large difference between Deng’s asking price and the Mavs’ perceived value of him, but that was the case with Monta Ellis at this point last summer. The parties meeting somewhere in the middle is certainly possible if Deng’s other suitors don’t step up.

Deng would likely be the Mavs’ last choice out of this tier for two reasons. He’s a below-average 3-point shooter (32.9 percent for his career), which is particularly concerning for a team that has a subpar perimeter-shooting backcourt. Perhaps more importantly, there are significant concerns about his durability after he played heavy minutes for years in Chicago and has missed double-digit games in five of the last seven seasons.

The Bulls, Lakers, Heat, Clippers and Hawks are among the teams to express interest in the 6-foot-9 Deng, an outstanding defender who has averaged 16.0 points and 6.3 rebounds during his career.

PLAN C

[+] EnlargeShawn Marion and Rick Carlisle
Chuck Myers/MCT/Getty ImagesShawn Marion isn't likely to return to the Mavs unless it's in a starting role.
Shawn Marion: The Mavs aren’t going to get Marion, who played such a critical role on their 2011 title team, to take a discount deal after aggressively trying to replace him in the starting lineup.

Marion would be a great fit as retired Shane Battier’s replacement in Miami, and there’s a strong feeling that he ends up chasing another ring as part of King James’ supporting cast. It’s doubtful that Marion, the Mavs’ best defender during his five-year tenure and leading rebounder the last few seasons, returns to Dallas unless he’s a starter again.

Paul Pierce: At 36, he’s no longer one of the premier wing players in the league, but Pierce can still play. He averaged 13.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists in his first season with the Brooklyn Nets, who hope to keep him.

Doc Rivers, the coach of Pierce’s championship team in Boston, is attempting to convince the future Hall of Famer to join him in L.A. The Bulls, Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies have also put out feelers for Pierce.

Al-Farouq Aminu: He’s a freakishly athletic, 6-foot-9, 23-year-old former lottery pick project who would look much better coming off the bench than in the starting lineup for a playoff team. His poor perimeter shooting is a major concern, but Aminu has the tools to be a terrific defender and rebounder for a small forward and might be ready to take off in the right system.
Small forward tops the Dallas Mavericks’ summer shopping list.

Houston’s Chandler Parsons, Cleveland’s Luol Deng, Washington’s Trevor Ariza and Brooklyn’s Paul Pierce are among the small forwards that the Mavs registered interest during the opening hours of free agency.

All of those players are expected to have several suitors, and the Rockets have the right to match any offers for Parsons because of his status as a restricted free agent. Those small forwards are also fallback plans for the Mavs if they fail to successfully recruit one of the available superstars.

The Mavs have a meeting scheduled with Carmelo Anthony on Wednesday afternoon. They are one of five teams Anthony plans to visit.

The Mavs are also attempting to set up a meeting with LeBron James’ agent, Rich Paul.

The Mavs remain interested in re-signing Shawn Marion, but they are aggressively trying to replace him in the starting lineup.

Free-agency preview: Small forwards

June, 25, 2014
Jun 25
8:30
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Luol DengAP Photo/Mark DuncanLuol Deng is one of the few players in the league as defensively versatile as Shawn Marion.
The Dallas Mavericks hope to finally land a big fish in free agency.

They also firmly understand that they’re in a long line of teams trying to sign LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony. Put it this way: The Mavs had better odds of getting Deron Williams or Dwight Howard the last couple of offseasons than signing one of the superstars available this summer.

The Mavs are on a short list of teams that have the cap space to offer a full max contract to either of the available in-their-prime, future Hall of Fame small forwards, but several teams can maneuver to create room. And the superstars’ current teams can trump offers from anyone with contracts featuring an extra year and more than $30 million. Plus, don’t assume that the Mavs would be willing to give Anthony a full max offer with a starting salary of more than $22 million.

The Dallas front office isn’t approaching this summer with a big fish-or-bust mentality. They’ll have strong Plans B, C, D, etc. in place, particularly at small forward.

One of those is re-signing Shawn Marion, the Mavs’ best defender and rebounder over the last five seasons and a critical piece of the 2011 championship puzzle. There is strong mutual interest in Marion’s return, although it is uncertain whether the 36-year-old “Matrix” would be enthusiastic about staying in Dallas if the Mavs envision him as a reserve.

The Mavs are optimistic that they’ll re-sign sixth man Vince Carter, who plays the majority of his minutes at small forward.

A look at some of the Mavs’ other small forward options in free agency:

Luol Deng: There’s a lot to like about the 6-foot-8, 29-year-old Deng. He’s one of the few players in this league as defensively versatile as Marion, but he’s seven years younger and a much more productive offensive player at this point of their careers.

As Rick Carlisle said when Deng came to Dallas with the Cavs last season, any coach would love to have Deng on their roster due to his toughness, intelligence and talent.

(Read full post)

The third in ESPNDallas.com’s position-by-position series previewing the free agency market that opens July 1:

This isn’t an immediate need for the Mavericks … unless they move Shawn Marion to create more space under the salary cap.

Another possible scenario: The Mavs could decide to move the 35-year-old Marion and his $9.32 million salary after acquiring a small forward they feel is an upgrade.

There are only one or two small forwards on the market – depending on a decision made in Boston – who are in that class. A look at those players and some other small forwards who low-dollar fits for the Dallas bench:

Andre Iguodala is an outstanding finisher at the basket and is one of few wings who are arguably better perimeter defenders than the Mavericks' Shawn Marion.
Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY SportsAndre Iguodala is an outstanding finisher at the basket and is one of few wings who are arguably better perimeter defenders than the Mavericks' Shawn Marion.
Andre Iguodala: You can make a strong case that he’s the third-best player in this free agency class behind Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. The 29-year-old Iguodala’s athleticism, defensive prowess and passing certainly make him intriguing to the Mavs’ front office.

The 6-foot-6, 207-pound Iguodala is a premier athlete, blessed with speed, quickness and leaping ability that allow him to excel in transition and as a defender.

Iguodala’s explosiveness makes him an outstanding finisher. According to hoopdata.com, he made 74.1 percent of his shots at the rim last season. Only five starting wings (including Marion, by the way) converted a higher percentage of those rim attacks.

Iguodala is one of precious few wings who are arguably better perimeter defenders than Marion, although Iguodala doesn’t have the versatility to occasionally cover power forwards. Former Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri called Iguodala’s omission from the All-Defensive team “mind-boggling,” pointing out that the U.S. Olympic team called on him when it needed a defensive stopper.

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Other than LeBron James, there isn’t a better passing wing in the NBA. Iguodala averaged 5.4 assists per game last season, which is about the norm for him over the last seven years. He’s intelligent, unselfish and has the ability to create for himself and others.

Iguodala’s biggest flaw: He’s a below-average perimeter shooter (31.7 percent on 3s, 31.0 percent on long 2s last season). That limits him as a halfcourt offensive threat and would make it difficult to play him with Marion if the Mavs ended up with both players on their roster.

Iguodala isn’t going to come cheap, either. He exercised his early termination option instead of making a $16.2 million salary in Denver next season. He won’t get that much per year again, but he’ll get at least $40 million over four years.

Paul Pierce: It remains to be seen whether the longtime Celtics star will hit the open market. He’s due to make $15.3 million in the final year of his deal this season, but Boston can buy him out for $5 million as the Celtics begin the rebuilding process. Pierce has also been the subject of a lot of trade talks.

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If Mavs move Shawn Marion, which free agent would you like to see with the team?

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The Mavs almost traded for Pierce at the deadline last season, but the Celtics backed out of a deal that would have sent Atlanta’s Josh Smith to Boston and Pierce to Dallas. The security of Pierce’s buyout was a small factor in the Mavs’ interest at the time.

There is no question that Pierce, who turns 36 in October, can still play. He averaged 18.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists for a playoff team last season. But does he fit Mark Cuban’s two-year plan?

Even if the Mavs pursue Pierce, the interest might not be mutual. At this point of his career, would a two-year plan to contend appeal to him? Of course, the fact that the Mavs could offer more money than most, if not all, readymade contenders could affect Pierce’s thought process.

Carlos Delfino: He was relatively effective as a 3-point-firing sixth man for the Rockets, but Houston will decline his team option as they try to carve out enough cap space to get in the Dwight derby. Donnie Nelson says you can never have enough shooters, and the 6-foot-6, 230-pound Delfino hit 37.5 percent of his 421 long-range attempts last season. He’s also a savvy player, which makes him intriguing as the Mavs attempt to drastically improve their basketball IQ.

But Delfino is limited athletically, can be exposed defensively and has seen his rebounding numbers drop significantly in recent years (3.3 per game in 25.2 minutes last season). The room midlevel exception ($2.652 million) might be a decent value for Delfino.

Chase Budinger: He could be a good buy as a low-risk, high-upside guy. The 25-year-old Budinger has good size (6-foot-7, 218 pounds) and is a great leaper. He’s shown the ability to score (9.4 points in 21.6 minutes per game in his career), but his offensive game could certainly benefit from the kind of one-on-one time Corey Brewer put in with Rick Carlisle. There are knocks on Budinger about his inconsistent motor, and he went into free agency on a low note after injuries limited him to 23 games for Minnesota last season.

C.J. Miles: It’s uncertain whether the Dallas Skyline product will be a free agent. He’s Cleveland property, but his $2.25 million salary is fully unguaranteed. The Mavs had discussions with Miles last summer. He’s a high-character guy who averaged 11.2 points and shot 38.4 percent from 3-point range for the Cavaliers last season. If nothing else, he’d be a great guy to have coming off the bench for the veteran’s minimum.

Dorell Wright: The 6-foot-9 Wright is just a perimeter shooter offensively. He’s a decent rebounder and not a dreadful defender. If the money is right – meaning not much – he could make sense for the Mavs as a bench player.

Corey Maggette: He has scored more than 13,000 points while playing most of his career on bad teams. He essentially took last season off, playing only 18 games for the Pistons. Not sure if the Mavs would want a declining player with a selfish rep on the roster, even at the minimum.
Grantland's Bill Simmons has finally completed his 13th annual NBA trade value rankings, a trilogy this year.

Dirk Nowitzki came in at No. 12. The Sports Guy's take on the big German:

One of my favorite NBA lists …

Dolph Schayes
Hal Greer
John Havlicek
Kobe Bryant
Tim Duncan
Paul Pierce
Dirk Nowitzki

That's the 15-Year Club — the only seven NBA players who spent their entire careers with the same franchise, played at least 15 seasons AND won at least one title. You don't just stumble onto that list — all seven are Hall of Famers, with 21 rings among them. Think about what the list means: excellence, durability, longevity, loyalty, championships … it's your best-case scenario for a basketball career, basically.

And you need a little luck along the way. I don't know how Schayes and Greer played that long with all the bad sneakers, bad food, bad medical care, scary travel, second-hand smoke and everything else that should have stopped them back then. Havlicek had a Secretariat-size heart and superhuman stamina. Duncan nearly signed with Orlando. Kobe's Lakers career nearly fell apart twice. Pierce was nearly traded 935 times. Dirk lucked out with a wealthy owner who always spent enough money to compete (so he never had to pull a KG), as well as one sizable break: During the summer of '04, Dallas was the consensus favorite in the Shaq Sweepstakes when Kobe forced the Lakers to trade Shaq the Lakers decided to trade Shaq, only Mark Cuban (astutely, as it turned out) made Dirk untouchable.

At the time, that decision was a much bigger deal than anyone remembers now. A rejuvenated, pissed-off Shaq guaranteed you one title, maybe even two. We all knew it. (As it turned out, Miami won in 2006, and probably would have won the previous year had Dwyane Wade not gotten injured.) When the Lakers could only get Lamar Odom, Caron Butler and Brian Grant's contract for him, I ended up creating the Vengeance Scale to figure out exactly where Angry Shaq ranked among the most vengeful people ever, ultimately assigning him an 8.7 (just behind Charles Bronson in every Death Wish movie). And yeah, I ridiculed the Mavericks for keeping Dirk over dealing him for Shaq, too, even calling Dirk "the German Bob McAdoo" (not a compliment). I never thought you could build a championship team around Dirk's offense. A lot of people felt that way. Looking back, resisting that enticing Shaq trade was probably Cuban's third-greatest NBA moment, trailing the time he stared down David Stern after Game 5 of the 2006 Finals, and, of course, this picture.

What happens with Dirk going forward? Kobe, Pierce and Dirk have one thing in common: They don't have to chase a title like Karl Malone did. Dirk controls his own destiny; if he wants to retire in Dallas, Cuban would be delighted. Kobe probably controls his own destiny, even if there's increasing buzz (no, really) that the Lakers would amnesty him if it guaranteed them Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. Sadly, Paul Pierce doesn't control his destiny — he's probably getting traded this summer by a team that wants to rebuild. That's the difference between being a star and being a superstar. But if you think Dallas isn't going balls-out after CP3 this summer to give their loyal superstar one last run, you're crazy. We might even see Mark Cuban skip a Shark Tank taping this time around! Don't count out Dirk Nowitzki just yet.

Click here to read the entire trade-value trilogy finale on Grantland.

3-pointer: Jet grounded in AAC return

March, 23, 2013
3/23/13
9:00
AM CT
DALLAS – Jet never really got off the runway during his return to the American Airlines Center.

Jason Terry, the man coach Rick Carlisle refers to as Mavericks royalty, received a standing ovation when he checked into the game but never made much of an impact for the Boston Celtics. Playing in Dallas for the first time since essentially being forced to leave in free agency, Terry was held to eight points on 3-of-9 shooting and had as many turnovers as field goals.

“It was a good feeling, but I was solely locked in on the game,” Terry said of the warm welcome from Mavs fans. “It was good to see everyone, but I’m a Celtic now.”

It’s been a tough week for Terry. People are still buzzing about LeBron James’ and-1 dunk over him Monday. He went scoreless in Wednesday’s loss to the New Orleans Hornets. And he was a nonfactor against his former team, when he had about 100 friends and family members in the stands.

“We have great respect for Jet and what he can do in a game,” Carlisle said. “I think our guys just gave him the respect he deserves and really played him hard. They just tried to make it tough. He got some shots. I’m not going to say we shut him down or anything like that, but guys battled him all night and that’s what we needed to do.”

Terry exchanged postgame hugs with Mavs owner Mark Cuban, Carlisle and a few former teammates, but he wasn’t in a good mood after the Celtics’ third straight loss.

“All I was worried about was getting a win,” Terry said. “We have to end this road trip on a good note. Right now we’re just not getting it done.”

A few more notes from the Mavs’ bounce-back game:

1. Dirk’s workload: Rick Carlisle considers Dirk Nowitzki’s recent low shot totals “an overblown conversation” – and Dirk concurs -- but the coach posed one question when asked about the subject.

“Did he have more shots than Mike James?” Carlisle said.

Yep:

James – 2-7 FG, seven points, six assists

Dirk – 8-15 FG, 22 points

“That’s good. That’s good,” Carlisle said. “It’s an awareness that we have to have. You guys can all see what happens. When we slow down and start calling plays, teams lock into us. It’s a harder game for us to play because of how we’re set up. We have to have an awareness. We have to involve Dirk in as many things as we possibly can without having to call plays.

“A lot of attention is on the point guards for that, but really it’s a responsibility for everybody on that.”

A big part of it is on Nowitzki, especially when the Mavs succeed at pushing the pace.

“I ran to the box a little more early in transition,” he said. “That’s what I’ve got to do if things are not going well. When our flow is going well and we’re scoring, then I’m fine. We can swing it and pick and roll it. But if I feel like it’s getting into a hole a little bit, then maybe I just have to run to the box and demand the ball a little bit more.”

2. OJ vs. KG?: It’s nothing new for Nowitzki and Kevin Garnett, the league’s premier jaw-jacker, to exchange a little trash talk.

But O.J. Mayo got involved this time, stepping between the two (along with a ref) and telling Garnett, “Back off my man!” Not that Nowitzki noticed.

“He said he had my back,” Dirk said, “but I’ve got to look at the film to make sure he was actually there.”

As far as the KG-Dirk trash talk, Nowitzki called it “nothing” to some of the on-court conversations over the years between the two legends, power forwards who will get to the Hall of Fame with completely different games.

“He’s the man. He’s just a fierce competitor,” Nowitzki said. “We had a few words there, but actually if you go way back, we got into it more than it was today. That was the soft version.”

Nowitzki could have reminded Garnett of their lone playoff meeting, when the Mavs swept the T-Wolves in three games with 23-year-old Dirk putting up 30-15, 31-15 and 39-17, but it didn’t come up in the heat of Friday’s moment.

Mayo (10 points, nine assists) also managed to get the last word on Garnett. After hitting a dagger 3, a mismatched Mayo stole a pass intended for a posted-up Garnett with a little more than a minute remaining, then made sure KG knew about it.

3. Matrix reloaded: Welcome back, Shawn Marion.

After eight games out due to a strained calf, Marion was up to his old tricks, putting up 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds in 31 minutes. He also was the key to keeping Paul Pierce (16 ponts) in check and guarded St. Patrick’s Day star Jeff Green (10 points) in spots.

“I was able to do a lot of things I normally do,” Marion said.

That’s good news to the Mavs, whose recent rebounding struggles turned around, beating the Celtics by double digits on the glass.

“We missed his abilities as a basketball player,” Carlisle said. “He’s one of our best athletes. His activity is something you can’t duplicate with any other normal player. He’s just a very unique guy.”
If Dirk Nowitzki put up his post-All-Star break numbers all season long, he probably wouldn’t have been able to take a midseason vacation on a Mexican beach.

PODCAST
ESPN Insider Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to talk about the Mavericks' big win and if Rick Carlisle should be considered for NBA Coach of the Year.

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Since his 11-year streak of All-Star appearances was snapped, Nowitzki has averaged 18.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, shooting 49.5 percent from the floor and 50 percent from 3-point range.

“What we’re seeing now with Dirk is what we can expect to see next year and the year after, if he stays healthy,” Mark Cuban said. “And the year after that.”

Three more years of All-Star caliber play from a power forward who turns 35 this summer?

"At least," Cuban said.

“I’m not sure about all that,” Nowitzki said. “We’ll just have to wait and see. Hopefully I can finish this season strong and have a good summer like I basically did last year with a lot of lifting and running and hopefully not have a setback with a surgery. We’ll see how consistent I can be again next season.”

It’s only been a couple of months since Nowitzki was wondering whether he wanted to keep playing after his contract expires next summer. He recently declared that he’d stick around through at least the 2015-16 season, but Nowitzki openly discussed making a transition from go-to guy to a role player in the years to come.

But Cuban can’t see Nowitzki as a role player, not even if the Mavs succeed in their year-old mission to acquire a legitimate star to pair with him, if not remove the burden of the franchise from the future Hall of Famer’s shoulders. Not for the next few years, at least.

“Is Kevin Garnett a role player? Is Tim Duncan a role player?” Cuban asked rhetorically. “Do you think Tim Duncan is going to be a role player next year? You think Kevin Garnett is going to be a role player next year? And those guys are based more on athleticism than Dirk is, you know?”

Cuban’s point: If Dirk’s peers as legendary power forwards of this generation can be All-Stars at 36, as Duncan and Garnett were this season, why can’t Nowitzki?

Duncan and Garnett both returned to the All-Star Game this season, a year after their decade-plus-long streaks of appearances were snapped at least in part due to knee problems that tend to pop up a decade and a half into a heavy-minute NBA career.

Garnett’s production has dipped in recent years, but he’s still a force for a perennial playoff team. Duncan’s numbers are down, too, but that’s primarily because his playing time has decreased. On a per-minute basis, there’s not much difference between Duncan’s production now and in his prime, and his Spurs are still contenders.

The talent and work ethic of players such as Duncan, Garnett, Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce and Steve Nash gives them a chance to keep playing at a high level deep into their thirties. Advances in fields such as sports medicine, nutrition and strength and conditioning increase their odds to enjoy success as NBA old-timers.

“Just because of the technology, guys can stay healthy longer,” Cuban said. “The science of dieting and health is just completely different than when we let Nash walk nine years ago. I think it’s just a different animal.”

That’s why Cuban is counting on at least a few more years of the same, ol’ Dirk.
Mark Cuban apparently was shooting straight when he declared that the Mavericks almost pulled the trigger on a blockbuster deal before the trade deadline.

In fact, it appears he was speaking “The Truth,” aka Paul Pierce.

PODCAST
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle joins Galloway & Company to discuss who he wants to keep for next season, O.J. Mayo's impressive night and much more.

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According to a Yahoo! Sports report, the Mavs nearly landed the Celtics legend in a three-way deal that would have sent Josh Smith to Boston. That supports the coy claims that Cuban made after the deadline passed with the Mavs just making a minor deal to acquire Anthony Morrow from the Hawks.

“It was crazy,” Cuban said the day after the deadline on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. “We thought we had a bunch of things done, literally a bunch of things done. We had teams get cold feet at the last minute. … Things that would have used cap room next year, would have had money next year, that were high-dollar guys, difference-maker guys.”

Yahoo! reported that the Mavs would have sent a package of fringe rotation players (Jae Crowder, Brandan Wright and since-traded Dahntay Jones) to Atlanta, plus swapping positions with the playoff-bound Hawks in the upcoming draft. The deal reportedly didn’t happen because Boston refused to send its first-round pick to the Hawks.

It would have been fascinating to see Pierce and Dirk Nowitzki play together a decade and a half after the debate about whether the Mavs made a mistake by not selecting Pierce in the 1998 NBA draft. The pair of surefire Hall of Famers ended up being far and away the two best players in that draft, with all due respect to Mavs sixth man Vince Carter.

The 35-year-old Pierce, whose $15.3 million salary next season is only partially guaranteed, still has plenty left in the tank. He is averaging 18.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists this season.

Theoretically, Pierce would have started at small forward for the Mavs with Shawn Marion making room for him by moving to the bench to back up both forward positions. The addition of Pierce, a proven closer, could have done wonders for fixing the Mavs’ crunch-time misery this season.

Would the addition of Pierce have made the Mavs a championship-caliber team? Probably not, but it certainly would have increased their chances of making the playoffs and doing some damage in late April and early May.

It’s also proof that Cuban’s competitive fire burns as strongly as ever, as well as evidence that the Mavs are reasonably not very optimistic about their odds of winning the Dwight Howard summer sweepstakes.

The deal didn’t go down, but it’s serves as an example of the possibilities for a creative front office that has financial flexibility in today’s NBA. And that, as much as free agency, will make for a fascinating summer in Dallas.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsS. Marion 6.5
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9