NBA Free Agency 2012: The Dallas Mavericks Should Sign Brook Lopez
Mark Cuban is about to be outdone by his Russian counterpart Mikhail Prokhorov. The Brooklyn Nets could possibly land Dwight Howard in a rumored four-team trade with the Orlando Magic, the Los Angeles Clippers and either the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Charlotte Bobcats.
If the trade goes through, it will immediately make the Nets title contenders or, at the very least, one of the most talked about teams in basketball. This means more prime-time games for the Nets.
It also means that the two players who the Mavericks threw away defending the title for, Deron Williams and Dwight Howard, will both be on the Brooklyn Nets.
It seems as if the Mavericks are scrambling to try and save some face this offseason while still maintaining maximum cap flexibility for next year so they can get shunned by Chris Paul.
Instead of worrying about how much of a bid to put on the recently amnestied Elton Brand or what the chances are that they can sell Dirk Nowitzki on the mediocre qualities of Ramon Sessions, the Mavericks should be exploring every avenue to stop Howard from going to Brooklyn.
The best way to do this would be to sign Brook Lopez to a max contract. It should be an easy sell to Lopez. Would you rather play for the Mavericks and team up with Dirk, or would you rather be part of a rebuilding process in Orlando? And if the Nets match the offer sheet, then he gets to stay in his preferred destination, Brooklyn.
By signing Lopez to a max offer sheet the Nets wouldn't be able to use him in any sign and trade deals with Orlando. If a restricted free agent is signed to an offer sheet by another team, and the team that owns his rights matches, they cannot trade that player till December 15 or three months after the deal is signed, whichever comes later. It's a strategy the Toronto Raptors used when they signed Landry Fields to an offer sheet, taking away a trade chip from the New York Knicks in their pursuit of Steve Nash.
While the proposed plan backfired on the Raptors because Nash ultimately ended up with the Los Angeles Lakers, there really is not a down side for the Mavericks. Here are the two most likely outcomes.
If the Brooklyn Nets Match the Offer Sheet
This is the most likely scenario, as the Nets do not want to lose Lopez for nothing.
Never mind the fact that he's probably not worth a max contract; after all, Omer Asik just got eight million dollars a year from the Houston Rockets, and he can't even catch the ball.
If the Nets match such an offer for Lopez, then the Magic would have to wait until December 15 to deal Dwight Howard to the Nets, and there is no way the Magic would wait that long. They don't want to have this Dwight saga drag through a quarter of the season. They would like to get him dealt before training camp starts and begin the season with a fresh start.
So, if the Nets don't get Dwight, then some other team, like the Rockets, would most likely rent Howard for a year, and with the Nets not having any salary cap space, the Mavericks, Howard's second choice, would be in a prime position to land him a year from now.
If the Brooklyn Nets Don't Match the Offer Sheet
This would be stupid because without Lopez, there is no possible chance of the Nets being able to do a deal with the Magic for Howard. But if for some reason they don't, then the Mavericks could do a lot worse than having a seven footer with one of the best low post games in the NBA. Lopez may also be the worst rebounder (for his size) in the NBA, but the Mavericks could do a lot worse in free agency—like say, Elton Brand for a year.
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