Dallas Mavericks: Rick Carlisle

Remodeled Mavs are built to run

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11
1:14
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Expect to see a lot of Rick Carlisle’s impression of a third base coach sending a runner home next season.

That’s what the Dallas Mavericks coach does when he wants his team to get out in transition, cranking his arm around and around. His shoulder might be sore if the Mavs play at the pace Carlisle wants next season.

Carlisle
Brendan Maloney/USA TODAY SportsThe Mavericks believe an increased pace will help them be even more efficient on offense.
Then again, if the Mavs get the message, maybe Carlisle won’t have to wave as he watches his team push the tempo on a consistent basis.

The Mavs ranked in the middle of the pack in pace last season, averaging 95.7 possessions per game, almost six fewer than the team that played at the fastest tempo. Carlisle hopes the remodeled Mavs, a team he believes is built to run, will be among the leaders next season.

“We want to play faster,” Carlisle said. “We’re going to have to do it by playing with our depth and playing with intelligence. We should be able to do that because we’ve got a lot of high-IQ players.”

That includes three point guards with significant starting experience in Jameer Nelson, Raymond Felton and Devin Harris. Of that trio, only Harris could be considered fast by NBA point guard standards. However, the Mavs’ hope is that their three-man rotation at the position gives their point guards the luxury of playing at maximum speed without concern for conserving energy.

The idea isn’t necessarily for the point guards to run the transition offense on a regular basis anyway. The best way for them to push the pace is often via the pass, something Jason Kidd was a master of as an old man during his second tenure in Dallas.

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Gal Mekel leading, proving he's reliable

July, 15, 2014
Jul 15
12:41
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Gal MekelGarrett W. Ellwood/Getty ImagesGal Mekel is averaging 9.7 points on 48.0 percent shooting with 2.0 assists in the Summer League.
LAS VEGAS -- The desert delivers hope, promise and ultimately disappointment. For the NBA's Summer League, players like Mavs swingmen Ricky Ledo and Eric Griffin are the prized possessions due to their youth and potential. Sometimes a reliable hand falls through the cracks because they're no longer new and flashy. That's likely where Gal Mekel is now.

With the preliminary round of the league under his belt, Mekel averaged 9.7 points on 48.0 percent shooting while averaging 2.0 assists per game. The averages for the assists will raise red flags, but he's creating good looks for his teammates and those leading passes he makes have led to teammates missing shots or hockey assist-like passes. The low number of assists are deceiving.

Mekel raised some eyebrows last summer with his ability to run a team, near-effortless ability to facilitate for others and underrated perimeter defense. Within a couple of days, many wondered if Mekel was playing in Vegas without an NBA contract. They were turned away as the Mavs signed the Israeli guard to a three-year deal at the league minimum.

While the results haven't been as flashy, Mekel has been the reliable hand of Dallas' offense.

"Gal has done a great job into our offense and establishing what we want to do offensively," Mavs summer league coach Kaleb Canales said.

Mekel has been asked to take on more of a leadership role with this roster due to his experience in this format and in general.

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Mavs strike with aggression this summer

July, 15, 2014
Jul 15
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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."

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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.

Coach K: Excited for Parsons on Team USA

July, 14, 2014
Jul 14
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LAS VEGAS -- ESPN.com's Marc Stein first reported that newly acquired Dallas Maverick Chandler Parsons was set to join another roster: Team USA. The news was made official Monday morning.

Featuring 19 players, including four members of the 2012 U.S. Olympic basketball team that won gold, national team managing director Jerry Colangelo announced this summer’s USA team from which the 2014 USA World Cup team will be selected. The 2014 FIBA (International Basketball Federation) World Cup, featuring a total of 24 national teams, is scheduled to be held Aug. 30-Sept. 14 in Spain.

The 2014-16 U.S. team coaching staff features head coach and Duke University’s Naismith Hall of Fame mentor Mike Krzyzewski. Serving as assistant coaches are USA Basketball, Syracuse University and Naismith Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim; Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau and New Orleans Pelicans head coach Monty Williams.

In addition to defense and rebounding, coach Krzyzewski noted that a strong emphasis on the team will be shooting and passing. When it comes to the addition of the newest Maverick, Krzyzewski is looking forward to what Parsons can bring to the group.

"His versatility is a huge strength," Krzyzewski said via conference call. "He’s one of the most intelligent players in the league. ... We’re excited to have Chandler."

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As far as coach Rick Carlisle is concerned, the possibilities for Chandler Parsons are practically limitless.

[+] EnlargeChandler Parsons
Craig Mitchelldyer/USA TODAY SportsChandler Parsons has improved his statistics in each of his three seasons.
The Mavs wouldn't have paid Parsons more than $15 million per year if they didn't think he had star potential. They believe he's just beginning to blossom after averaging 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists for the 54-win Houston Rockets last season, improving his numbers in each category for the third consecutive year since arriving in the NBA as a second-round pick.

As a foundation piece in Dallas, Parsons will have a bigger role than ever before. For that matter, it sounds as if he'll have more roles than ever before, as Carlisle considers Parsons capable of playing four positions.

"I think he can play the 3, 4, 1 and 2," Carlisle said, listing every spot from point guard to power forward for the Mavs' new starting small forward. "He can do a lot of different things. He can facilitate, he can drive it, he can shoot it and he and he can defend a lot of different positions. It's a really good fit for us."

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The Mavs are enamored with the 6-foot-9, 227-pound Parsons' skill, size and versatility. His age (26 at the beginning of the season) is part of the reason the Mavs identified Parsons as their clear preference among Plan B targets after their pipe-dream plans of signing LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony didn't pan out.

Parsons has proved he is a good NBA player. The Mavs are confident he can become great with the coaching of Carlisle, whom calls Parsons "an outstanding all-around player."

Dallas filled a glaring hole at small forward when the Rockets declined the right to match their three-year, $46 million offer to the restricted free agent. But that position will be just the beginning of Parsons' responsibilities with the Mavs.

The Mavs' are counting on their new $15 million man to do a lot of everything as a point forward who can fill it up.

Larkin clarifies his father's comments on Carlisle, Cuban

July, 11, 2014
Jul 11
6:52
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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.
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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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.

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Mo Williams meeting with Mavs

July, 7, 2014
Jul 7
11:40
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Veteran guard Mo Williams is scheduled to meet Tuesday with Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, sources said, but the team’s primary focus in free agency remains finding a starting small forward and coming to terms with sixth man Vince Carter.

The Mavs might have to use up all of their remaining cap space to add a small forward and re-sign Carter, potentially leaving only the cap room exception (approximately $2.7 million per year for no more than two seasons) or a minimum-salary slot for Williams.

The Mavs have a one-two punch of Raymond Felton and re-signed free agent Devin Harris at point guard, and Monta Ellis should play the vast majority of minutes at shooting guard again this season. The Mavs could also try to move Felton, who is due $3.79 million this season and has a player option for $3.95 million in 2015-16, to create more cap space.

Williams, 31, who lives in the Dallas area during the offseason, averaged 9.7 points and 4.3 assists as Portland’s sixth man last season. He’s capable of playing both guard positions, and his veteran savvy and history of hitting big shots appeals to the Mavs, who could use a 3-point threat in their backcourt rotation.

The meeting with Williams, first reported by Yahoo! Sports, is not indicative that a deal is imminent.
DALLAS -- Maybe this math won't matter, but it's hard to consider it an encouraging sign that the Dallas Mavericks got less than half as much face time with Carmelo Anthony as the Houston Rockets and about a quarter as much as the Chicago Bulls.

But the Mavs knew all along that it was a long shot for them to talk Anthony into taking a less-than-max deal to come to Dallas.

Realizing their dark horse status in the Melo derby, the Dallas decision-makers have put a lot of thought into their Plan B options. They'll be prepared to pounce if they don't pull off the upset of signing Anthony.

The problem is it could be pretty slim pickings on that tier of small forwards in free agency.

Houston's Chandler Parsons and Utah's Gordon Hayward are fine young small forwards who would fit especially well offensively with their perimeter strokes and ability to create for themselves and teammates. Too bad they are restricted free agents whose teams have made it clear they intend to exercise their right to match any offers.

Maybe the Mavs call the bluff of the Rockets or Jazz, but that would mean they either pay more than the value point they placed on one of the players, or are left still looking after the three-day waiting period.

The Mavs would certainly have to pay a premium price to pry Trevor Ariza, a 3-point and defensive specialist coming off a career year, away from the Washington Wizards.

That leaves Luol Deng, a defensive stopper and 16-point-per-game career scorer who would arrive in Dallas without a reliable 3-point shot and with significant durability issues. He also doesn't want to take much of a pay cut from the $14.7 million salary he made last season, while the Mavs view his value in the high seven figures annually.

In this market, it's a good bet Deng would get his eight-digit salary. There are simply too many teams with salary-cap space that are searching for a starting small forward, with the Bulls (if they don't get Anthony), Atlanta Hawks and Los Angeles Lakers among his other suitors.

The question the Dallas front office might have to ask itself: Would the Mavs be better off giving Deng a $12 million-per-year deal or attempting to build a roster with great depth?

Say they do the Deng deal. At that point, they probably have to choose between Devin Harris or Vince Carter with the $5 million or so of cap space they'd have left at that point, and attempt to fill a glaring need for bench scoring or point guard with their cap-room exception ($2.7 million per year for no more than two seasons).

If they go for depth, they could probably re-sign Shawn Marion as the starter, bring back Harris and Carter, have room for a high-upside project like Al-Farouq Aminu and still have the cap-room exception (D.J. Augustin?). With a roster like that, they could rely on coach Rick Carlisle to work his sideline wizardry, mixing and matching to get the most out of a rotation that would be 10 or 11 players deep.

In the depth scenario, the Mavs would also have several lower-priced pieces that could be assets in the trade market, while Deng would likely be difficult to move with a large, long-term deal.

The Mavs have put a lot of effort into Plan B options, but Plan C might be a better path.

The Mavs' five-pronged pitch to Melo

July, 1, 2014
Jul 1
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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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How much better can Monta Ellis be?

June, 30, 2014
Jun 30
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Monta EllisAP Photo/Sue OgrockiThe Mavs believe the addition of Tyson Chandler will help Monta Ellis be even better next season.
DALLAS -- Listen to the Dallas decision-makers long enough and you might begin to believe that Monta Ellis should be considered a Most Improved Player candidate in 2014-15.

How much better can a nine-year veteran with career averages of 19.4 points and 4.9 assists get?

A day after the Mavericks were eliminated, coach Rick Carlisle said he anticipated Ellis making “quantum leaps” in his second season in Dallas. Owner Mark Cuban has similar expectations.

“We haven’t seen the best of Monta Ellis yet,” Cuban said during his appearance on 103.3 FM’s “ESPN Dallas GameDay” on Saturday. “Now that he’s more comfortable, now that he knows what’s expected of him, he’s going to work on his game over the summer. ...

“I’m messaging him left and right all the time saying, ‘OK, what are you working on today? What are the things you’re adding to your game? Because you can’t come back with just the same game. You’ve got to be better to take us to the next level.’ And he’s all in.”

The Mavs’ brass also believes that the trade for center Tyson Chandler will mask two of Ellis’ biggest flaws.

First of all, as president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said, Chandler covers up for a lot of defensive sins. Ellis showed grit and commitment with his willingness to take charges and has always come up with a lot of steals, but he’ll never be known as a lockdown defender, to put it politely. The Mavs now have a premier rim protector to prevent a lot of the pain caused by dribble penetration allowed by Ellis.

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Why Mavs make sense for Carmelo Anthony

June, 30, 2014
Jun 30
12:06
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Drik Nowitzki and Carmelo AnthonyAP Photo/Jason DeCrowThe Mavs know Dirk Nowitzki would be the best player to ever be paired with Carmelo Anthony.
DALLAS -- How much is winning worth to Carmelo Anthony? How much does he value a legitimate chance to chase a championship?

The Mavericks, confident they can provide a title-pursuing opportunity immediately and for the duration of Anthony’s prime, intend to find out.

The Mavs know Dirk Nowitzki, coming off his 12th All-Star appearance, would be the best player to ever be paired with Anthony, whose teams have advanced past the first round only twice during his 11-year NBA career despite his consistently prolific production.

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With all due respect to George Karl, the Mavs firmly believe that Rick Carlisle would be Anthony's best coach. The Mavs’ front office will point to the 2011 title run and this season’s seven-game challenge of the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs as recent examples of Carlisle’s brilliance. They’ll surely mention Carlisle’s impact on Monta Ellis, who excelled in the Mavs’ flow offense after arriving in Dallas with a reputation as an inefficient, me-first gunner, harsh labels that often come out of Melo critics’ mouths, too.

The Mavs can make the case that a Monta-Melo-Dirk trio would be the NBA’s most explosive one-two-three offensive punch. They certainly will make the case that adding Anthony to Nowitzki and center Tyson Chandler, his former New York Knicks teammate, would give the Mavs the best frontcourt in the league.

Oh, and that frontcourt could get much better next summer, when the Mavs plan to have the financial flexibility to pursue another big fish in free agency, such as Kevin Love, Marc Gasol or Dallas native LaMarcus Aldridge.

But it’s the Chandler trade that made the Mavs believe they could convince Anthony that Dallas is the best fit for him now.

“My feeling is that I’m a prospective free agent out there, we became a lot more attractive, because I don’t know many front lines that not only have that kind of punch in terms of inside-outside, but also two great guys, great teammates, guys that you love to go to war with, night in and night out,” Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said. “That with the fact that we can accommodate a max salary this year and next makes our future bright in the here and now. It also makes it bright in the future, next year. I think the future is bright here in Dallas.”

Yeah, about that max salary, Melo ...

As Mark Cuban clarified Saturday on 103.3 FM’s “ESPN Dallas GameDay,” the Mavs don’t plan on offering one of the available superstars a deal for the full max. It’s simple math, really. Dallas has about $26 million in cap space and needs to re-sign Nowitzki, whose hometown discount isn’t going to be steep enough to give Anthony a starting salary of $22.5 million.

Theoretically, the Mavs could move Brandan Wright and his $5 million salary in a cost-cutting deal and beg Nowitzki to take a bit less than the Tim Duncan discount to make max room for Melo, but that’s not the plan. The Mavs hope to convince Anthony that they present the best chance to win championships, which is probably pretty valuable to a man who has made more than $135 million but won only three playoff series during his NBA career.

Money aside, are the Mavs the best fit for Melo? It might take a little mud-slinging to convince him, but that shouldn’t be a problem for a shark like Cuban.

The Mavs’ case starts with Carlisle, who is clearly the most offensively creative coach among Anthony’s suitors. Would Kevin McHale, who is still searching for his first playoff series win on the bench, know how to keep James Harden, Dwight Howard and Anthony all happy? Do you trust a rookie head coach in Derek Fisher? Or the uncertainty of the Los Angeles Lakers’ Coach TBD?

Nowitzki is a dream teammate: a floor-spacing star willing and eager to hand over the keys to the franchise after he signs a team-friendly contract. How much is Harden willing to share the ball and spotlight? Will Derrick Rose overcome his unfortunate knee problems to be an All-NBA guard or end up as a max-salary albatross? (Hey, how did that work out with Amar'e Stoudemire?)

If Anthony wants to win now, his safest bet is the Mavs, whose front office also has a solid plan to sustain a contender around him throughout his prime and the recent track record that proves they’re capable of pulling it off.

Isn’t that worth a superstar with a nine-figure net worth sacrificing a few million dollars? Hey, have we mentioned that Texas has no state income tax?

Felton has 'fresh start' with Mavs

June, 27, 2014
Jun 27
2:08
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Raymond FeltonRobert Hanashiro/USA TODAY SportsRaymond Felton had the worst stats of his career last season, averaging 9.7 points and 5.6 assists.
DALLAS -- The Mavericks sadly bid farewell to Tyson Chandler a few years ago because they had their eyes on bigger prizes, such as Deron Williams and Chris Paul, a pair of All-Star point guards selected with the third and fourth picks in the 2005 draft.

A point guard who was the fifth pick in the 2005 draft is part of the price the Mavs paid to bring Chandler back to Dallas.

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Raymond Felton, who is coming off the worst year of his career on and off the court, wasn’t included in the six-player trade with the New York Knicks because the Mavs wanted him. The Knicks insisted on dumping Felton in the deal with Chandler.

The Mavs, however, are hopeful that the 30-year-old Felton can get his career back on track in Dallas.

“I think we’ve had a lot of success over the years in guys that went through a hard year previously,” Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said. “You look at Jerry Stackhouse when we acquired him. Here’s a guy that probably a lot of folks wouldn’t have touched. Nick Van Exel is another. You go down the line, we’ve done a pretty good job of bringing guys like that into the fold, having them buy in.

“Raymond has been through some tough times. It’s no secret that he’s made some mistakes and he wishes that he had them back. It’s no secret that he’s gone through some difficult times in New York. We certainly have the kind of locker room that has done good with those kind of players in the past.”

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DALLAS -- Tyson Chandler, the finishing piece of a championship puzzle during his lone season in Dallas, doesn’t think the Mavericks are far from being legitimate contenders for another title.

For proof, Chandler points to the Mavs pushing the San Antonio Spurs to seven games in the first round, by far the biggest scare the eventual champions encountered in the playoffs.

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“If you can challenge the champs like that and be a play or two away from actually advancing, that means you're close,” Chandler said. “So I think this team is close.”

Chandler’s checklist of elements the Mavs were missing just so happened to be strengths of his game. He mentioned rim protection, finishing at the basket and offensive rebounding as areas that the Mavs needed to improve.

Of course, Chandler fully expects to fill those voids during his second stint in Dallas, much like he did during the Mavs’ 2011 championship march.

“Yeah, absolutely,” Chandler said. “That was my role when I was there. Watching it in years past, I think it was lacking. My job is to be even better than I was the year that I had there. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to providing that and seeing what we can do.”

The Mavs felt that center Samuel Dalembert was a good value signing last summer, considering his $3.7 million salary a bargain in the second half of the season. However, the Dallas decision-makers entered the offseason determined to upgrade at the position and jumped at the chance to bring Chandler back while putting only a minor dent into this summer’s cap space while improving the team’s financial forecast in the near future.

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Free-agency preview: Small forwards

June, 25, 2014
Jun 25
8:30
AM CT
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.

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SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsD. Nowitzki 6.2
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9