Time is beginning to run out for the Dallas Mavericks in the 2012-13 season.
At just 26-33, the Mavericks have been unable to make up any significant ground in the playoff race, and they remain five-and-a-half games out of the No. 8 spot.
While the Mavericks will still keep their dim hope of making a playoff push alive, for many fans and executives, the focus has already shifted to the 2013-14 season.
The Mavericks will no doubt be looking to improve their squad through free agency this offseason. The 2013 free agency class is loaded at every position with star players, role players and everything in between.
Dallas would be wise to keep their eyes open for the rest of this season to see how each free agent fares in the remainder of the schedule to evaluate what the best moves are for them in the offseason.
A quick glance at Tony Allen's statistics seem to reveal that he is nothing more than an average player on a good team.
Allen is scoring at just 8.9 PPG with 4.5 RPG in more than 27 minutes of action. However, for anyone who has watched Allen play over the past few years, it is obvious that what he brings to the table doesn't always show up on a stat sheet.
Allen is one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. He has the ability to change the game with his defense, which is something that few NBA players can legitimately say.
Capable of shutting down even the best of perimeter scorers, Allen will be a heavily sought after free agent this offseason when his $3.3 million contract with the Memphis Grizzlies expires.
Allen would be a perfect fit in Dallas if they are able to sign him. The Mavericks' biggest weakness thus far this year has been defense. They rank 27th in the NBA in points allowed per game, and they have relied almost exclusively on Shawn Marion, who is well past his prime, to be their perimeter stopper.
Bringing Allen to the fold wouldn't improve the Mavs offense, but that is not their issue. They need as many stoppers as they can find this offseason, and there is no one better available than Tony Allen.
Seven-year pro Jarrett Jack has really come into his own as an NBA player over the past two seasons.
This year for Golden State, he has put up similar numbers, but he is doing it all coming off the bench.
The combination of Jack's scoring and passing ability as well as his veteran leadership and willingness to accept a sixth man role makes him an invaluable player to have on any NBA roster.
Dallas would be wise to keep tabs on him after his one-year, $5.4 million contract with the Warriors expires at the end of this season.
The Mavericks still are very uncertain about their future at the point guard spot. While Darren Collison has played well, he has been inconsistent and his contract does expire after this year.
If Dallas decides to go in a different direction, or they want to have some insurance at the 1, Jack is a solid, affordable option.
J.J. Hickson is quietly having a breakout year up in Portland.
The Trail Blazers don't often garner much national attention outside of future Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard, but they are still in the mix for a playoff position in the West, and it has been in large part due to Hickson's contributions.
Hickson is averaging 13.2 PPG, but more impressively, he is averaging a dynamite 10.5 rebounds playing the center position at only 6'9".
Those numbers mean that Hickson is one of only 10 NBA players averaging a double-double this season.
While much of the attention has been paid to the Mavericks going after more high-profile centers this offseason, Hickson certainly would not be a bad consolation prize.
For starters, at age 24, Hickson still has plenty of room to grow as a player, and if locked up for the long term, he could be a staple in the Mavs' frontcourt for the next half decade or more.
Hickson is making $4 million this season, and even if his play does warrant a raise, he won't demand more than the Mavericks can give him, meaning he is a player that the Dallas front office should seriously look into in free agency.
Calderon does have the ability to score the basketball when needed, but his primary objective is to pass it off to his teammates, and he is one of the best in the NBA at doing that.
This year, Calderon is averaging 11.3 PPG, and 7.3 assists (split between Toronto and Detroit), the latter of which places him ninth in the NBA in that category.
Where Darren Collison excels in the transition game, Calderon is better at setting up his teammates in the half court. Slowing the game down is something the Mavericks are more suited to doing, especially with Dirk Nowitzki still their primary scoring option.
A point guard battle between Collison and Calderon next season would certainly spice things up in Dallas and give the Mavericks the ability to change pace with each player on the floor. Plus, Calderon would have Nowitzki and possibly O.J. Mayo (if the Mavs re-sign him) to pass it to, who are better options than he has had at any point in the past several years.
Calderon is a solid NBA point guard, but the more than $11 million he is making right now is slightly ridiculous. If he is going to come to Dallas, they won't want to pay him close to that amount, but if the market is thin for him this offseason, Calderon and Dallas could be a perfect match for 2013-14.
There is a reason why that Andrew Bynum picture is of him in a suit and not a 76ers uniform.
That's because Bynum has yet to play a game this season for the Sixers due to a knee injury and the complications he has suffered because of it.
With setback after setback, the chance that Bynum will end up playing for Philadelphia at all this season continues to decrease.
If that is the case, it could mean that the 76ers traded away several key pieces for nothing.
Bynum is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and will be on the open market unless the 76ers sign him to an extension before free agency hits.
Several teams may be wary of signing Bynum due to his injuries, but Dallas simply has to get in on the action of trying to lure Bynum to Texas this offseason.
While there certainly are questions about Bynum's toughness and worries about his knee, the Mavericks are in no position to talk themselves out of making a big move.
They do not have the pieces to be a contender without one more star player on the roster, and they aren't young enough or bad enough to try to hit the lottery in the draft.
Dwight Howard has been getting much of the attention when it relates to the Mavericks, but the fact is Bynum is just as realistic of an option and could potentially end up being a better fit.
Bynum when healthy is without a doubt one of the best big men in the NBA today. Last season when he was on the Lakers, Bynum put up monster numbers, getting 18.7 PPG to go along with 11.8 RPG.
In fact, Bynum has posted a PER of at least 20.0 the past five seasons; the only other big man to do that was Tim Duncan.
If Bynum plays this year, Dallas would certainly be wise to see how his knee holds up. However, regardless of that, if the Mavericks feel as though they are in a good position financially to go after Bynum, it would be foolish of them not to.