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The Dallas Mavericks are cautiously engaging in contract negotiations with Andrew Bynum after meeting with the free-agent center and his agent at a Dallas hotel Wednesday morning.
"They had a nice visit with our doctors and we had a lunch," Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said. "Beyond that, the negotiations are ongoing."
The Mavs were the third franchise Bynum and agent David Lee met with this week, following the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks. Sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein that Cleveland offered an incentive-laden, two-year, $24 million deal, including a team option for the second season, to Bynum, a 25-year-old with a history of significant knee problems who sat out the entire 2012-13 season for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Sources told Stein that $6 million of the $24 million offered by Cleveland is guaranteed. Bynum would be forced to reach a variety of incentive benchmarks to collect the full $12 million in Year 1, according to sources, while Year 2 was pitched by Cleveland as a team option year.
Yet it remains unclear how much guaranteed money Dallas will be willing to offer Bynum in a multiyear deal after launching the evaluation process in earnest with Wednesday's meetings. ESPN.com reported Tuesday that the Cavaliers regard the Mavericks as their only legitimate competition for the former All-Star's services.
Bynum, however, has resisted Cleveland's push for a quick answer, leading to the belief that he would rather land in Dallas.
Yet the combination of what is expected to be a higher overall guarantee from Cleveland and the success Bynum had playing for Mike Brown in Los Angeles would appear to have nudged the Cavaliers into the lead for his services.
The Mavs, who targeted Bynum after Dwight Howard decided to sign with the Houston Rockets, continue to proceed with caution while evaluating the medical risks of signing the former All-Star big man.
"At this point, we're having a medical discussion," Nelson said. "We'll have an opportunity to again get with him and his agent and better understand the risks involved and make a good decision for our franchise. We talk to his agent all the time. We're in the process of gathering information."
Bernard James, who played sparingly as a rookie last season and has a non-guaranteed minimum-salary contract, is the only center currently on the Mavs' roster.
The Mavs have approximately $8.2 million in salary-cap space after agreeing to terms with free-agent guards Jose Calderon, Devin Harris and Wayne Ellington. They can create more cap space in several ways, such as waiving players with non-guaranteed deals, renouncing the Early Bird rights of Brandan Wright [whom they'd like to return as a backup center] or trading core veterans Shawn Marion or Vince Carter.
Bynum averaged 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2011-12, the only campaign in the past six seasons in which he didn't miss at least 17 games due to injury.
Asked if Bynum could return to that form, Nelson said, "I think that all remains to be seen."
Sources told Stein that the Mavericks remain fully engaged with Bynum but have also targeted Milwaukee Bucks free-agent center Samuel Dalembert as a prime candidate.
The Mavs also are in advanced discussions to re-sign Wright, who averaged 8.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocks as a backup last season. Because they own Wright's Early Bird rights, the Mavs can exceed the salary cap to re-sign him.
"Dallas is the clear-cut leader," Wright told ESPNDallas.com in a text message Wednesday, adding that he anticipates getting a deal done with the Mavs "sooner or later."
ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Bryan Gutierrez of the TrueHoop Network's The Two Man Game contributed to this report.