Mavs hope to keep key veterans
DALLAS -- The Mavericks hope to re-sign all of their key veteran free agents this summer. The interest is mutual, those players said Monday during their exit interviews.
Dirk Nowitzki, a 12-time All-Star forward who has spent his entire 16-year career with Dallas, verbally committed last summer to re-sign with the Mavs. He has repeatedly said he'll sign a two- or three-year deal with a significantly reduced salary after his four-year, $80 million contract expires on July 1. It's just a matter of figuring out the details with owner Mark Cuban.
Small forward Shawn Marion, sixth man Vince Carter and reserve guard Devin Harris all expressed optimism that they would re-sign with the Mavs, who went 49-33 this season and pushed the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs to seven games in the first round of the playoffs. Marion, Carter and Harris also indicated that they would weigh their options if other contenders show interest.
"Mark made it public in the locker room last night that he would like to have every one of those guys back, but there's negotiation," Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said. "There's opportunity for those guys to experience free agency. We're one of 30 teams in the NBA, so it's got to be right for both sides."
The Mavs will have approximately $30.5 million in salary-cap space this summer. A large chunk of that will go to Nowitzki. He said he hasn't thought about specific numbers yet, but he didn't dismiss the idea of signing a deal similar to Tim Duncan's three-year, $30 million contract.
"We want to get better as a team," said Nowitzki, who averaged 21.7 points this season, his highest since the Mavs' 2010-11 title campaign. "I'm pretty sure I'm not going to sign Kobe's deal, unfortunately [laughs].
"We'll find a good way where I feel respected for what I did and where we still have enough money left for us to get great players in here. Cubes has been great to me, has been loyal to me for a long, long time. I'm sure we're going to find a great solution for everybody."
Marion, the only other player remaining from the Mavs' championship roster, said he plans to play two more seasons before retiring. After making $9.3 million this season, the 15-year veteran expects to take a steep pay cut as a 36-year-old free agent, saying it would take "not too much" for him to re-sign with the Mavs.
However, Marion will consider offers from other contenders and is willing to transition to a reserve role in the right situation. He said the chance to win another championship is much more important to him than money at this point of his career.
"It's a great environment here," said Marion, who averaged 10.4 points and 6.5 rebounds while being Dallas' best defensive player this season. "Mark and Donnie have built an amazing franchise here. It's like a family here. I'm going to weigh my options out and see what it's going to take for me to get another championship ring. I would love to add to the ring I have."
Carter, 37, an eight-time All-Star who has reinvented himself as a sixth man during his three-year tenure in Dallas, expects to re-sign with the Mavs. Carter, who made $3.2 million this season, also said the chance to play for a contender is much more important than money.
"The situation matters, the right situation," said Carter, the Mavs' third-leading scorer with 11.9 points per game this season. "I don't want to play for free, but other than that, the right situation is what it's all about. At this point in my career, I just want to play for teams that compete for a championship. I just want that opportunity, so that's what I'm looking for."
The 31-year-old Harris is looking for a raise after playing for the $1.3 million veteran's minimum this season.
Harris, who played for the Mavs from 2004 to 2008, originally agreed to a three-year deal worth more than $9 million to return to Dallas. However, the parties mutually agreed to pull the offer off the table after a pre-signing physical examination revealed that Harris needed complicated toe surgery that sidelined him for the first half of the season.
Harris hopes to get a deal in the range of the Mavs' original offer from last summer.
"My intent is to come back, but only time will tell," said Harris, who averaged 7.9 points and 4.5 assists this season.