Commentary

Mavs will try to keep band together

Roster analysis shows 2011 champs have chance to keep changes to minimum

Updated: November 28, 2011, 12:30 AM ET
By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

In an ideal world, Donnie Nelson declared, while possibly still drunk from championship champagne, the Dallas Mavericks' entire roster would return intact this season.

"They're all part of the family," Nelson said in mid-June. "We'd like to get the crew [back]."

It's not an ideal world as the NBA lockout is all but officially over, though it's not nearly as bad as once feared for the Mavs' hopes of keeping the champions together.

There isn't a hard salary cap, and it will be a couple of years before the much harsher luxury-tax system kicks in.

After the addition of Rudy Fernandez in a draft-day deal with Portland, at least one member of the Mavs' first championship team won't be able to return. However, it's feasible for a reasonable facsimile of last season's title team to be in Mavericks uniforms for the merry Christmas rematch against the Miami Heat to open the 66-game season.

Here's a look at the Mavs' roster from last season and one addition (salaries not adjusted for prorated 2011-12 season) with educated guesses about the likelihood of each player remaining in Dallas:

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Nowitzi

PF Dirk Nowitzki

Contract status: Three seasons, $62.7 remaining
Fit: The sweetest shooting 7-footer in NBA history will continue to be the franchise centerpiece for at least the next few seasons. There's no doubting Dirk's status as one of the game's all-time greats after he filled in the only missing line on his resume with a NBA Finals MVP performance.
Chances he'll be back: 100 percent. He'll play for the Mavs as long as he wants, and then they'll put a statue of him outside the AAC.

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Chandler

C Tyson Chandler

Contract status: Unrestricted free agent
Fit: Nowitzki calls the best big man he has ever played with the Mavs' MVP. That's a humble exaggeration by the big German, but Chandler unquestionably was the major missing piece to the Mavs' championship puzzle. That makes it a must to re-sign him.
Chances he'll be back: 70 percent. Nowitzki took less money last offseason to make it easier for Mark Cuban to stomach spending what it takes for a championship-caliber team. Hammering out a deal for Chandler is the first major test. It helps immensely that the much harsher luxury tax system won't kick in until the 2013-14 season.

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Kidd

PG Jason Kidd

Contract status: One season, $8.6 million
Fit: The surefire Hall of Fame point guard is in his twilight, but he remains the Mavs' on-court brain, especially in the clutch. His passing sets a tone of unselfishness; his defense sets a tone of tenacity.
Chances he'll be back: 100 percent. The question with Kidd is whether his career continues into his 40s.

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Terry

SG Jason Terry

Contract status: One season, $10.7 million
Fit: The Mavs' self-appointed spokesman is on the short list of the NBA's most explosive sixth men. Terry is a fearless shooter who has been Dirk's clutch scoring companion for years.
Chances he'll be back: 100 percent. He's made it clear he wants to retire as a Mav -- with his jersey in the rafters. The intrigue is with his next (potentially last) contract.

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Marion

SF Shawn Marion

Contract status: Three seasons, $25.2 million
Fit: The versatile veteran forward is fresh off spearheading phenomenal defensive efforts against Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and LeBron James during the Mavs' title run. He's also a solid rebounder and efficient scorer as a complementary offensive threat. Chances he'll be back: 98 percent. Marion has been mentioned as a candidate for the amnesty clause, but it makes no sense for the Mavs to part ways with a player who plays such an integral role, especially now.

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Butler

SF Caron Butler

Contract status: Unrestricted free agent
Fit: Butler was the Mavs' second-leading scorer and a hard-nosed wing defender when he suffered a season-ending knee injury on New Year's Day. If he re-signs, he'll likely return to his role as the No. 2 offensive threat in the first and third quarters.
Chances he'll be back: 40 percent. All due respect, but having "Tuff Juice" on the roster is obviously a luxury. The Mavs would like to have him back, but it would be surprising if they paid Butler big money. The length of the contract could be the deal-breaker.

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Barea

PG J.J. Barea

Contract status: Unrestricted free agent
Fit: The pride of Puerto Rico is a premier penetrator, a pick-and-roll maestro who fits perfectly on a team loaded with perimeter shooters. He makes up for his defensive limitations with his expertise in the art of flopping.
Chances he'll be back: 75 percent. Barea loves his role and everything else about being a Maverick. If the Mavs make a fair offer, he won't move.

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Haywood

C Brendan Haywood

Contract status: Four seasons, $34.8 million (plus nonguaranteed $10.5 million in 2015-16)
Fit: When Haywood's motor is revving, he's one of the league's best backup big men. His offensive contributions are basically limited to dunking (which he does well) and shooting free throws (which he doesn't), but he's a good shot blocker and rebounder.
Chances he'll be back: 95 percent. Haywood is another amnesty clause candidate, but it's much more likely that the Mavs wait until the megatax kicks in during the third season of the CBA to push that button.

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Beaubois

G Rodrigue Beaubois

Contract status: Two seasons, $3.5 million (including rookie option year)
Fit: His future seemed so bright after he showed flashes of brilliance as a rookie, but Beaubois doesn't have a clearly defined role right now. He has a shooting guard's game in a point guard's frame, much like Terry, and struggled during his brief stint as a starter during an injury-plagued second season.
Chances he'll be back: 97 percent. Trading Beaubois now would be the epitome of selling low.

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Fernandez

SG Rudy Fernandez

Contract status: One season, $2.2 million
Fit: Acquired in a no-risk, draft-day deal, Fernandez could be the Mavs' starting shooting guard. He regressed the past two seasons in Portland, but the Mavs' coaching staff thinks it can maximize the potential of a long, athletic, skilled wing.
Chances he'll be back: 99 percent. Fernandez might not be here long, though. His camp made it clear during the lockout that the Spaniard considers this season a trial period in Dallas. It's likely that he'll return home for a more lucrative career with Real Madrid.

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Stevenson

SG DeShawn Stevenson

Contract status: Unrestricted free agent
Fit: He's the kind of crazy that coach Rick Carlisle wants on his team, and he's immensely popular among the Mavs' stars. He's a muscular, max-effort defensive force on the wing. As a bonus, when he's in a groove, he's a good spot-up 3-point shooter.
Chances he'll be back: 60 percent. Stevenson will have to take a significant pay cut from his $4 million salary last season, but there's room on the roster for a pro comfortable bouncing from the end of the bench to the starting lineup to any role in between.

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Brewer

SG Corey Brewer

Contract status: Two seasons, $6.3 million
Fit: He's a long, wiry bundle of boundless, athletic energy. He's an asset as a wing defender and is working to progress to the point that he's enough of an offensive threat to merit consistent playing time.
Chances he'll be back: 100 percent. The Mavs outbid other contenders for Brewer when he received a midseason buyout because they believed he could be a significant contributor this season.

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Cardinal

PF Brian Cardinal

Contract status: Unrestricted free agent
Fit: They call him "The Custodian" for good reason. He embraces the dirty work like few NBA players -- specializing in hard picks and harder fouls -- and he'll hit the spot-up 3 from the corner. He's limited athletically, to put it kindly, but he's loved in the Mavs' locker room.
Chances he'll be back: 90 percent. If the Mavs offer him a one-year deal for the veteran's minimum, he'll jump at the opportunity. Just not very high.

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Mahinmi

C Ian Mahinmi

Contract status: One season, $947,907
Fit: He's a young project who played a bit role for a championship team. He's plagued by fouls but is an athletic big man who gets burn off the bench against teams with small-ball second units.
Chances he'll be back: 99 percent. He has a six-figure salary and some potential.

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Stojakovic

SF Peja Stojakovic

Contract status: Unrestricted free agent
Fit: He's still a premier perimeter shooter, which made him valuable in the first two rounds of the playoffs. His cement feet make him unusable against certain matchups -- see 2011 NBA Finals -- but the Mavs can use an inexpensive end-of-bench sniper.
Chances he'll be back: 50 percent. He said after last season that he wants to keep playing. He's another solid candidate for a veteran's minimum deal.

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Jones

G Dominique Jones

Contract status: Three seasons, $4.8 million (including rookie options)
Fit: The Mavs' 2010 first-round pick is a project. Maybe he can develop into a big point guard. Maybe he can improve his jumper enough to be a quality shooting guard. He could be the Texas Legends' go-to guy.
Chances he'll be back: 99 percent. He could be included in trade discussions, but it would be surprising if the Mavs pulled the trigger on a deal with another team before the season started.

Tim MacMahon covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.

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