Mavericks' Top 5 Free Agent Options If Deron Williams Doesn't Come to Dallas
Everyone knows by now that the crown jewel in this year's free agent class is Deron Williams. And almost everyone knows that the Dallas Mavericks are interested in his services.
But what if Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson can't bring the All-Star point guard to his hometown for a good number of years?
Obviously they're going to have to look at other options in an attempt to put a quality squad around Dirk Nowitzki as he approaches 34 years of age, and the Mavericks management needs to plan as if those whose contracts are expired will not be coming back.
Even though they're a year removed from an NBA title, Dallas will head into the offseason trying to solve the same problems they've been enduring for the longest time—finding players who could play quality minutes at shooting guard and center.
Luckily for the Mavs, Cuban will have money to spend for the first time ever since buying the team over a decade ago, and there are quality players that can be signed at the right price.
The problem that faces Dallas is that the majority of great players available are restricted free agents and still cling to a microscopic obligation to their current team.
So just in case there needs to be a backup plan, here are the top five free agents that the Mavs could target in July if D-Will doesn't come back home.
No. 5: Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers
This seems like a major stretch due to the plethora of cap space that the Pacers will be getting at the start of the summer, but there wouldn't be any complaining if Cuban went ahead and displayed interest in the 7-foot beast from Indiana.
There's a good case to be made that Roy Hibbert is the second best center in the league, and if he's on the market, he'll get a good look from other teams who can use a defensive difference maker.
Dallas lacks a starting center who can play around 30 minutes a game, and the case can be made that the guy for that job would be Ian Mahinmi. But at this point, Brendan Haywood should be amnestied to create a spot for someone to come in and rejuvenate the Dallas defense.
Hibbert averaged close to 13 points, nine rebounds and two blocks a game in the regular season this year. He would be a perfect replacement for Haywood and would be a great player to put alongside Nowitzki.
And on top of every stat you could pile on Hibbert, he's only 25 years old. There wouldn't be anything wrong with not only infusing youth into the Mavs, but get someone as good as Hibbert.
No. 4: Goran Dragic, Houston Rockets
It's almost unfair to see the kind of treatment that Goran Dragic has been given since he came into the league.
He was projected to be the one who would eventually replace Steve Nash in Phoenix as he continues to age graciously. Then he was shipped off to Houston where he added on to the logjam of point guards that the Rockets had at their disposal.
When franchise point guard Kyle Lowry went down with an injury, Dragic did a magnificent job as the starting point guard for Houston, averaging 18 points and over eight assists a game while shooting 49 percent from the field in 28 games.
Dragic is most certainly someone who has earned the right to be a starter for any team who needs a point guard, and it wouldn't hurt if the Mavs took a look at the 26-year-old talent.
No. 3: JaVale McGee, Denver Nuggets
It's safe to say that this would be a high risk, high reward situation if the Mavs wanted to bring JaVale McGee to the Lone Star State.
The high risk isn't just his bonehead plays that he's made for his entire tenure in Washington. The risk will be if he can keep up the high level of play that he displayed when he was traded to Denver. Funny how most people thought Denver lost in that trade for Nene.
McGee is one of the most athletic, talented big men in the NBA and has the capability of being a star in this league. If he goes to the right team with a coaching staff that can keep his head level, then he can be one of the best.
He's already a talented shot blocker and rim rattler when he gets in the paint, but the potential is high and the sky's the limit for this guy. His best bet would be to stay in Denver and be one of the pieces of the future for that rising franchise.
But Cuban's been known to make big risks before, and they've paid off in a big way.
No. 2: Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns
It's no well-kept secret that almost all Dallas fans would love to see a Nash/Nowitzki reunion in Big D.
And while Steve is no spring chicken as he was when he was leading the Mavs to Western Conference prominence in the last decade, he's continued to put up eye-popping stats and average a double-double throughout a season.
Just like McGee, this would be a high risk, high reward scenario. You're not going to get many years out of Nash like you would with the young guys that are available. And in terms of an 82-game season, Rick Carlisle would have to monitor his minutes more than ever before.
But Carlisle's style of coaching would work very well with Nash and his age. I mean, hey, it worked for Jason Kidd, and Nash put up better stats on a team with less talent and star power.
With his asking price at around $20 million over the next two years, it would seem like a stretch. But come on, would anyone truly deny Nash coming back to Dallas?
No. 1: Eric Gordon, New Orleans Hornets
I wouldn't be surprised if anyone's eyes popped out of their head if they saw Eric Gordon as the top choice on this list.
But it doesn't seem that much of a shocking selection.
When people like to talk about players coming to Dallas with prior injury history, it's easy to pinpoint that the Mavs' training staff is, or is one of, the best in the entire NBA. The major example that can be brought up would be Tyson Chandler.
I'm not saying that if you cure Gordon's injury problems, he's bringing a championship to Dallas. But the Mavs need someone who can score 20 points a game and take the load off of Dirk. And if anyone on the possible free agent list has that ability, it's the former Indiana Hoosier sharp-shooter.
Plus, he deserves to be a big piece in the puzzle for title contention. After being pushed aside by the Los Angeles Clippers for Chris Paul, playing for the Hornets isn't the best situation for the time being. His role isn't as someone who can be a star, but can provide a large amount of points as a No. 2 option.
If D-Will can't come to Dallas, Cuban should throw as much money as he can for Gordon. Again, another high risk, reward kind of player.
But again, the reward outweighs the risk when it comes to the Mavs.