The Mavs came up short in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes, over the weekend. The quickly shifted their focus to plan B (or whatever letter), and have made moves to give a little more insight for what the Mavs are looking to do this offseason.
Questions lead to answers and answers lead to more questions. It’s a vicious circle. Let’s go over some key notes as we head into the next phase of free agency.
What are the thoughts of the Jose Calderon signing?
When you compare it to Jarrett Jack’s deal (four years, $26 million), I’d rather have Calderon. There still remains some doubt in regards to the specifics of Calderon’s deal. It was reported that Jack’s final year is not guaranteed. Any wiggle room that is created in the final year or two of Calderon’s deal would be a win for the Mavs, but they also know that the stretch provision can help them out if things do go south.
Immediate history also shows us that deals can be moved (thanks, Golden State). Calderon will be 32 going into the year, but 30-year-old point guards can still play in this league. You get concern with shooting guards once they hit the other side of 30 due to the wear and tear on their bodies. Recent history also shows us that guys, in general, are able to play later into their 30s due to training habits and dieting.
He was my top choice for a point guard acquisition, outside of Chris Paul, in free agency. Dallas simply didn’t have control on offense and Calderon will be able to help correct that in a timely fashion.
What do you make of the Devin Harris signing?
I was pretty puzzled when I first heard the news. I then thought about the fact that he did see a fair amount of time as the shooting guard, next to Jeff Teague, in Atlanta last season. His athleticism and footwork will allow him to defend off of pick-and-rolls. He would be a solid balance with Calderon in that regard. There’s no beating around the bush though. It’s a given that would truly be an undersized backcourt if the Mavs wanted to operate with them as the starting guards.
The value on the Harris signing is tremendous. With his ability to play either guard position, getting him at roughly $3 million a year is great. It’s great for on-the-floor ability and asset management. That has clearly been an issue for the Mavs over the last two years. It surely looks like they’re starting to build up some tangible assets.
It does make the role of Shane Larkin somewhat of a question mark now. It’s possible that he’ll have plenty of time to develop now with two capable guards ahead of him. It’s also just as possible that their draft pick becomes an immediate asset in the trade market. One thing is for certain, everyone is eager to see him work in Vegas for the Summer League.
What holes do the Mavs still have to fill?
They still need to find a true shooting guard and a starting center. Currently, Dallas has $50.4 million in payroll. It is expected that the cap will be $58.5 million. That leaves them with $8.1 million left. It could theoretically go up to over $17 million if they trade Shawn Marion for cap space.
Andrew Bynum and Monta Ellis have emerged as names of interest for Dallas. Neither of them are necessarily my cups of tea. They each have their notable faults, but the market and the current situation for the Mavs dictate that they need to look at these two players. It’s hard to get a feel for what either will fetch on the open market. The Mavs will clearly hope they break in Dallas’ favor. They’ll surely protect themselves if they do pursue Bynum and he gets a clean bill of health. The news over the weekend seems to dictate that Ellis might officially be out of Dallas’ price range.
They still have the ability to go over the cap to re-sign Brandan Wright. They will also be able to pay someone $5.4 million over two years with the room exception.
Trading Marion still is a possibility. They could package him with another asset and obtain either a shooting guard or center. I think it’s a lot less likely now that they simply trade him for cap space and simply trade him for an asset that is a little cheaper.
They’re still going to be looking for 3-and-D guys (guys who can defend and stretch the floor with their ability to shoot). They’ll also want depth with backup bigs. Filling all of their roster “holes” or needs will be tough. Do they decide only to really address the main components, the shooting guard and center, and go cheap on the rest, or do they evenly distribute the remaining funds to ensure everything is covered?
What about Vegas?
The Summer League will start later this week. It will be the first opportunity to really see Shane Larkin, Ricky Ledo, Gal Mekel and potentially Nick Calathes in action. The final roster has not been announced yet. It will be finalized early this week.
Everyone needs to remember to temper expectations once they see results or stats from the games. The simple cautionary tale would be Dominique Jones. It appeared that he could dominate at the Summer League level, but he clearly couldn’t translate that, for whatever reason, to the big show. You just want to see how these players react in the game situation. Do they look comfortable? What are their immediate weaknesses? Those are the big things you want to see immediately. The next thing is you want to see how they develop over the course of the league.
We’ll also want to see how Jae Crowder and Bernard James do. The summer between year one and year two is incredibly important to a player’s overall development. They know the rigors of the league and they know what they need to do to improve. We’ll see if they’ve “done their homework” or not.
Does Brandan Wright still have a chance of returning?
As I mentioned earlier, the Mavs can go over the cap to sign him as the Mavs have his Early Bird Rights. It still appears there is some interest around the league in the versatile big man, but there haven’t been any major breaks in terms of heading towards the finish line and signing a deal.
Reports surfaced over the weekend that the Mavs and the Golden State Warriors are interested in Jermaine O’Neal. O’Neal was in his prime when he was coached by Rick Carlisle on the Pacers from 2003 through 2007, averaging 21.4 points and 9.5 rebounds while making All-Star appearances in each of those four seasons. Since then, he’s basically hit father time hard. The Mavs have also been in contact with Elton Brand and would like to see him return.
All of that makes Wright’s role in Dallas somewhat of a question mark. They do want depth at the position but that may stunt his overall growth if there are multiple options at center. Do they want him to emerge as the primary backup and balance to Dirk Nowitzki?
I still think it’s relatively likely that Wright can return, but the news/speculation over the weekend does make me wonder. It’s always possible he could be used as an asset in a sign-and-trade, like Ian Mahinmi was last summer.
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He also attended Ball So Hard University. Bryan channels his inner-Clark Kent on a day-to-day basis. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.