Dallas Mavericks: 8 Summer 2012 Free Agent Targets Post Dwight Howard Opt in

Ethan Grant@DowntownEGAnalyst IMarch 18, 2012

Dallas Mavericks: 8 Summer 2012 Free Agent Targets Post Dwight Howard Opt in

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    After their brutal 2-7 slide amidst nine games in 12 days, the Dallas Mavericks now find themselves winners of three straight, knocking off the San Antonio Spurs 106-99 in one of the most impressive wins of the season for Dallas.

    This next stretch will likely shape the postseason expectations for the Mavs, who play 15 of their last 20 games against teams with a .500 winning percentage or better. Throw in the Portland Trail Blazers, who've blown up their roster, fired their coach and sit only two games under that mark, and the number jumps to 17. 

    Not only will this month likely define the season, but it also might be a precursor to knowing how different the roster might be come summer time. Even though this season is far from over and the Mavs will fight to the end to defend their title, however, it's never to early to get a jump on what the 2012-2013 roster could be.

    Since Dwight Howard elected to waive his opt-out clause, the idea of creating a "Big 3" in Dallas with Dirk Nowitzki and Deron Williams came to an end. In honor of Williams' No. 8 jersey number and his decision to test free agency this offseason, here are eight guys Dallas could chase come July. With cap space and a desire to make the biggest splash in franchise history, it could get real interesting, real fast. 

PG Deron Williams, New Jersey Nets

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    Let's get 'Captain Obvious" out of the way early. The Dallas Mavericks want Deron Williams. Rumors and speculation on a return to his home state have run rampant since the season began, and general manager Donnie Nelson did nothing but spark rumors when he hinted at the possibility of a "big fish" landing in Dallas during summer 2012 free agency.

    It's now easier for the Mavs to sign Williams, keep more of their cap and still put together a solid roster, considering most numerical analysis had Williams and Dwight Howard combining for about $32 million if they both landed in Dallas.

    If Williams takes that $16 million or even asks for the full $20 million, there is still $12-16 million to add additional pieces around him. Dirk Nowitzki will be the best power forward he's ever played with, (sorry, Carlos Boozer) and young guard Rodrigue Beaubois is one of the most exciting players under contract in 2012-2013.

    Most of the Mavs' offseason plans center around adding Williams, so it's no surprise he's first on this list and at the top of any offseason shopping list. If he severs ties with the Brooklyn-to-be Nets and decides to come home, you can bet no one in Dallas will complain that Howard isn't coming with him.

SG/SF C.J. Miles, Utah Jazz

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    If Williams is the priority in Dallas, Miles could be right behind him, waiting for the phone call to join his old Utah Jazz teammate in his hometown. Miles also hails from the Dallas area, he played his high school ball at Skyline before declaring for the 2005 NBA Draft.

    Williams and Miles are considered to be close friends, and the Nets even explored a trade at the deadline to reunite the two before eventually making the Gerald Wallace deal. Miles would be another affordable fit on a team centered around Dirk and Williams. He would play tough "D" and stretch the floor off the bench.

    It's unknown how keen Miles would be on returning home and teaming up with one of the better franchises in the Western Conference. He is in the prime of his career, and at 25 years old, he'll likely be offered more than the $3.7 million he's currently making in Utah.

    That being said, if chasing a championship in Dallas is more attractive than the zeroes on a potential contract, and Williams comes to Dallas day one of free agency. I'd say Miles is a no-brainer target.

SG Michael Redd, Phoenix Suns

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    Redd is a shell of his former self. The man who averaged more than 20 points per game for six straight seasons as a Milwaukee Buck only averages 6.7 in a reserve role for the Phoenix Suns.

    But as Vince Carter has done with the Mavericks this season, Redd could look to rejuvenate himself under the watchful eye of Rick Carlisle and the offensive ease of playing with a Hall-of-Famer like Dirk Nowitzki. 

    It's no secret that Dallas has been fond of Redd in free agency and at the trade deadline in recent years. So. it wouldn't be too surprising if Donnie Nelson does what he does best and adds Redd to the fold in an attempt to put together guys thirsty for a championship.

C Chris Kaman, New Orleans Hornets

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    Kaman is a team Germany teammate of Dirk Nowitzki, and he is another name mentioned quite frequently in trade discussions each time the possibility comes around.

    Since Howard is staying in Orlando, at least until next year's trade deadline, the necessity to amnesty center Brendan Haywood isn't as prevalent. Even so, the Mavs could decide long-term flexibility is more important than keeping Haywood for the next four seasons, leaving him in an unfriendly position.

    If that comes to fruition, Kaman might be the short-term tandem center to pair with Nowitzki until they can make another push for Howard. He's made close to $40 million over the last four seasons, so taking a lesser deal to play for a championship and with a good friend in Nowitzki might appeal to him.

C Jeff Foster, Indiana Pacers

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    Foster, the Texas native and Texas State University graduate (shameless plug), is set to hit the open market this summer. The 12-year veteran has played his entire career with the Indiana Pacers, so conventional wisdom suggests he might be more open to re-signing in town.

    But, as the elder member of a team clearly looking to get younger, Foster might be the odd man out. Pair that with a chance to come back to Texas and reunite with former Indiana coach Rick Carlisle, and the Mavs might be a perfect fit for Foster.

    This deal only happens if the Mavs don't amnesty Haywood, and also don't make a play for their own unrestricted center Ian Mahinmi (more info on that in a second).

    All Foster does is rebound and play tough "D." Those character traits have become a job requirement for big men in a Maverick uniform over the past couple seasons.

C Greg Oden, Portland Trail Blazers

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    Although it's too early to gauge the interest Dallas might have in the injury-ridden former No. 1 overall pick, Fort Worth Star Telegram writer Dwain Price hit the nail on the head when he posed the question of Oden's ability in comparison to the Mavs' interest.

    If he comes back healthy, Dallas could make a push for the all-world talent. They've had great success with former first round pick Brandan Wright this season, virtually turning him from a bust into a solid role player who brings energy and athleticism night-in and night-out.

    Oden would likely garner more interest than the other two centers on this list. But when he's been on the court, he's been one of the better big men in the NBA. With center being a coveted position, with not many options, it's tough to overlook a talent like Oden. Especially if he can cast his history aside and return to the form that made him a No. 1 pick.

C Ian Mahinmi, Dallas Mavericks

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    Now, on to the Mavs' own free agents. Mahinmi has come into his own this season, averaging 6.3 points and 4.7 rebounds in close to 19 minutes per game. He's been a serviceable reserve for Brendan Haywood, even starting five games when Haywood has had injury problems.

    Whether or not the Mavs amnesty Haywood, keeping Mahinmi should be a priority this offseason. The French-speaking center is a close friend of teammate Rodrigue Beaubois, and his pre-game scream has become quite the tradition in the warm-up festivities.

    Joking aside, Mahinmi is a very valuable big man. His energy, effort on the glass and his ability to guard the opposing big men will be pivotal in any stretch run Dallas makes this season.

    Bringing him back should be right up there with adding Deron Williams, even if he garners a little bit more attention in the free agent market than Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban would like.

SG Jason Terry, Dallas Mavericks

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    Terry wants to retire a Maverick. Then he wants his jersey to hang in the rafters with No.'s 15 and 22, worn by Dallas greats Brad Davis and Rolando Blackman, and the soon-to-be No. 41 of Dirk Nowitzki.

    He'll likely get his wish. It's no coincidence that Dallas' two NBA Finals appearances, one Finals win and current streak of playoff appearances center around his arrival in 2004. He's "Mr. Clutch" around Dallas, and he's also one of the most beloved players in the history of the franchise.

    The one catch: Terry won't make $10 million in a Maverick uniform again. If he wants that kind of money, he can kiss any kind of lifetime-contract out the window.

    But Terry loves Dallas, and despite the city and his differences, it would be good for both to have him here when he decides to unlace his shoes for the final time. Besides, maybe the "Big 3" was supposed to be Deron Williams, Dirk Nowitzki, and Terry all along. I'd hate to guard those three in the fourth quarter.