Oceans have dried up and mountain ranges have crumbled since the Dallas Mavericks drafted Nick Calathes in 2009, but the team’s specific circumstances — while entirely different — are eerily familiar. The Mavs are still in need of a successor to Jason Kidd (who is almost assuredly gone), could still benefit from a cross-matching playmaker to pair alongside Rodrigue Beaubois or Dominique Jones, and are — as is team custom — very thin in terms of developmental depth. Calathes could oblige in many of those capacities, and for the first time since Dallas drafted him, he’s contractually free to ply his trade stateside. Per Eurohoops.net, that’s precisely what he intends to do:
Nick Calathes’ contract with Panathinaikos ended, he is a free agent and he will try his best in order to get a roster spot in Dallas. That should be the natural evolution for him…Calathes is a 23 years old player, who believes that he learned all he could from European basketball and now feels that it’s the right time for him to try and achieve his childhood dream of playing in the NBA. He will play for the Greek national team at the FIBA Pre-Olympic tournament, but he wants also be present at the Las Vegas summer league and will chase his dream, something that can be done if Greece doesn’t qualify to London.
Eurohoops also cites Acie Law (IV) — a fringe NBA player claimed by Europe as a result of the lockout’s timing — as a potential Mavs target, though Calathes is infinitely more interesting. Law was a capable college scorer whose résumé was built on outclassing the NCAA’s slower and smaller defenders, but his relative lack of athleticism and limited playmaking abilities make his pro potential painfully slim. There’s a chance that Law could turn into a worthy fourth or fifth guard if given a chance to slowly boil, but the investment of time, resources, and a roster spot in his development doesn’t seem all that likely to pay off.
So instead, we turn our attentions to Calathes, who is stylistically a very similar player to the one who left Florida three summers ago, but has fewer problematic habits, more experience against professional-level competition, and some legitimately exciting defensive potential. Should Calathes indeed be interested in making a run at the NBA, the Mavs would almost assuredly be his destination, and based on how badly this team needs useful, cheap rotation players in order to complete their offseason plans, his delayed arrival could make for a delightful coincidence. Had he been ready to cross the Atlantic a year ago, Calathes would have been buried alive in the depth chart, left to dig his out from under an assortment of talented veterans. But now the Mavericks need Calathes just as much as — if not more than — he needs them; the international offers will be on the table for a 23-year-old guard who’s proven himself useful in Euroleague play, but the affordable roster options for Dallas will be far more sparse.