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Smart move is to re-sign Tyson Chandler

Tyson Chandler owes us nothing.

He helped deliver a title to a city and a franchise starving to join the exclusive fraternity of NBA champions.

He was a model citizen and teammate, while showing us the Dallas Mavericks can play championship defense.

For you misguided souls who think Chandler will give Dallas-Fort Worth a feel-good discount that allows the club to keep J.J. Barea and Caron Butler, forget about it.

It ain't happening.

This is the largest contract the 29-year-old will ever sign because he's in high demand. Solid teams such as the Denver Nuggets and Houston Rockets want him, as do scrub teams such as the Toronto Raptors and Sacramento Kings.

He'll have options, which equates to dollars.

"I really think I'm going to be on a new team come training camp," Chandler told ESPN.com in a telephone interview Wednesday night. "I'm really taking a hard look at all of my options, trying to see what best suits me."

That's because he doesn't think Mark Cuban will shell out the big dollars it will take to keep him.

Cuban should.

And he will -- at least I think he will.

Cuban and Donnie Nelson are a couple of smart dudes, but this Chandler dilemma is a doozy.

If the Mavs sign Chandler, an unrestricted free agent, to the massive contract he has earned and deserves, say goodbye to any and every realistic chance to sign Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard in the summer of 2012.

If the Mavs don't sign Chandler, you can forget about signing Williams, Paul or Howard next summer anyway.

The best thing every MFFL -- Mavs Fan For Life -- can do is accept that your Mavs are an aging team with limited salary-cap flexibility.

So enjoy the ring ceremony and the raising of the championship banner on Christmas Day. Revel in the memories and relive them with the help of your DVR, while wearing your blue "The time is now" T-shirt, if you must.

I'd suggest Game 4 against the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder. Game 2 and Game 6 against the Miami Heat.

There's no guarantee those championship days are returning any time soon. This isn't about gloom and doom; it's the Mavs' reality.

The smart move -- the only move -- is for the Mavs to do what it takes to sign Chandler and take their chances they can attract other elite players in the future.

Understand, doing so probably means saying bye-bye to Barea and Butler. Hoping and praying to sign one of the three stars available next summer is pure insanity.

You don't build a franchise's future on hope.

The problem, if we're honest, is that Chandler doesn't need to be the Mavs' second- or third-best player.

Sure, he's a leader with a deep set of intangibles that begins with an infectious spirit. And he's a terrific shot-blocker and defensive presence, who plays better with Dirk Nowitzki than we could have ever hoped.

But even though he's improved on the free throw line and as a jump-shooter, Chandler remains offensively challenged. Dirk is 33, and the Mavs can't ask him to be their best player forever.

If Chandler is the Mavs' second-best player, they'll need more than 10.1 points and 9.4 rebounds -- his per-game averages last season -- which isn't fair to him since he's never been a scorer.

That said, any number of guys, including the big three available next summer, would love to play for a team with Dirk and Chandler as the focal points of the roster.

The only problem, as we've mentioned, is the Mavs won't be able to afford them.

This is the difficult part of pro sports, and what sets the best organizations apart from the others.

The best organizations understand there's no room for sentiment. If this were a sentimental business, we'd implore Cuban and Nelson to re-sign Chandler, Barea and Butler, and give Jason Terry the contract extension he wants.

But that isn't going to happen. It can't.

Barea probably isn't coming back. We know Butler isn't. Terry won't be re-signed after this season, and neither will Jason Kidd when his contract ends.

So remember the championship run and how good it felt. Keep the sound of Dirk's rendition of "We are the Champions" in your mind forever.

The best we can hope is the Mavs do whatever it takes to re-sign Chandler, while Cuban and Nelson figure out a way to add another stud to the roster.

Otherwise, the summer of 2012 is going to be pretty boring in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Jean-Jacques Taylor is a columnist for ESPNDallas.com.