Realistic Free Agency Targets for the Dallas Mavericks
After a 41-41 season, the Dallas Mavericks are in need of some serious regrouping as they move forward into the 2013-14 campaign.
The Mavericks had their 12-year playoff streak ended this season. They will be looking to make some renovations as nine players currently on their current roster are eligible for free agency.
It's likely the Mavs will be bringing back some of their players. Still, they will certainly be looking improve their roster in every area and will have the necessary cap space to do so.
Many Mavs fans are clamoring for the team to go sign a superstar like Dwight Howard, but considering that the team was mediocre this season, attracting a free agent of Howard's profile will be challenging. Dallas has very few young up-and-coming players and the team's best player is nearly 35; the Mavericks realistically won't be in the running for a player of that magnitude.
Instead, they would be smart to go after second-tier free agents who will still greatly improve their club but who should be easier to get under contract.
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Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings is a restricted free agent, but it seems fairly unlikely that his $4.3 million qualifying offer will be enough to keep him. After a forgettable four seasons with the club, Jennings is likely looking to go elsewhere in 2013.
The Mavericks could be a fit for Jennings, as he certainly could bring some offensive firepower to the backcourt.
It's unclear how Jennings' personality would clash with Dirk Nowtizki, but he certainly is one of the most talented free-agent guards available.
Calderon is an underrated passer and scorer who has the capability to either run the first or second units.
He averaged an impressive 11.3 points and 7.2 assists this year while shooting 49 percent from the field and 46 percent from three-point range.
Paired with Darren Collison could encourage the two point guards to push each other and create some friendly competition for the starting spot.
Devin Harris spent the first four seasons of his career in a Mavericks uniform and was their starting point guard when they went to the NBA Finals in 2006.
Harris has publicly stated that he would like to return to Dallas, and he could be a good fit with them next year.
Like Calderon, Harris is a veteran who could push and mentor Collison.
Harris may not the be the player he was in his best years in Dallas or with the New Jersey Nets, but he is still a capable floor general; he scored in double figures in three of Atlanta's six playoff games this year.
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If the Mavericks want to improve on their 27th-ranked defensive unit next season, Tony Allen certainly wouldn't be a bad place to start.
There a few better perimeter defenders in the NBA than Allen, and he is the type of player who can instantly turn around a team's defensive culture.
He's also a capable offensive player and would be a great fit in the Mavericks' locker room.
Yes, he is a volatile personality. Yes, he takes too many ill-advised shots. Yes, it's going to probably take a giant check to get him. But there are still very few better scorers on the market than J.R. Smith.
The reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year wouldn't have to come off the bench for the Mavericks, and he could hopefully provide more consistent scoring than Dallas' O.J. Mayo did this past year.
Plus, there are few coaches in the league who could handle Smith's personality better than Rick Carlisle, and when Smith's shot is falling, his on-court antics become less of a problem.
Nick Young is kind of a poor man's J.R. Smith. As such, he wouldn't be a terrible option to bring to the Mavs.
Young's one-year stint with the Philadelphia 76ers didn't really pan out, so maybe he could get a fresh start in Dallas next year. Young showed in his two seasons prior to joining the Sixers that he is capable of putting up big scoring numbers, so perhaps shifting the scenery to Dallas could bring back some of Young's explosive offense.
If Young improved his shot selection, he could be a capable member of the Mavericks rotation.
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The Mavericks are pretty much set at starting small forward with Shawn Marion, but one guy they could look to to help bolster their bench is Matt Barnes.
Barnes is a journeyman, but he has been effective in his role almost everywhere he has played.
Dallas already had the best scoring bench in the NBA, and bringing in a guy like Barnes who averaged double figures for the Los Angeles Clippers could only improve that area.
Plus, Barnes brings a sense of toughness that the Mavs were lacking this season.
For those who have been watching the New York Knicks this season, they have seen flashes of a promising rotation player in Chris Copeland.
Copeland has had to compete for minutes off of a deep Knicks bench, but he has shown that he can really put up points when given the opportunity.
If he was able to go to Dallas, Copeland could provide a spark off the Mavs bench at the small forward position.
Similarly to Copeland, Earl Clark seemed to have a bit of a breakout year for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Clark didn't play many minutes and certainly wasn't relied upon to score much, but he made the most of his opportunities and will find a home through the free-agent market where he can play more minutes.
That destination could be Dallas, as the 6'10'' Clark could backup Marion and Dirk Nowitzki. He's a solid rebounder and defender as well as a capable scorer off the bench.
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I have been a big proponent of the Mavericks going after J.J. Hickson for a while now. Hickson averaged a double-double for Portland this past season, and he would greatly improve the Mavericks' terrible rebounding from this past year.
He is also a good post scorer who isn't afraid to mix things up and could bring a much-needed physical toughness to the Mavs' frontcourt.
The issue is obviously having to move Dirk over to center, but Rick Carlisle would find a way to make it work. Besides, Hickson is strong enough to play center if he really needed to.
While there has been much speculation about Al Jefferson potentially ending up in Dallas, his battery mate Paul Millsap seems a more likely possibility.
Millsap's numbers were down slightly this year, but he continues to be an underrated scorer and rebounder.
Millsap is capable of getting you 15-20 points a night and 8-12 rebounds, which is what the Mavericks need from their big men.
Having a Nowitzki-Millsap combination would certainly make the Mavericks one of the top scoring frontcourts in the NBA.
If Dallas wants to focus more on the bench at the power forward spot, DeJuan Blair could be their man.
Blair's minutes have been inconsistent in his four years in San Antonio, but in Dallas he could take Elton Brand's role as the primary power forward off the bench.
Blair can mix it up inside and uses is 6'7'' 270-pound frame to overpower his opponents down low. Having a guy like Blair coming off the bench would certainly bring a physical toughness to the Mavericks as well as bolster the team's rebounding.
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It might be silly to put all of your eggs into the Greg Oden basket, but taking a flyer on him couldn't hurt the Mavericks.
There is little evidence that Oden, when healthy, isn't capable of living up to the promise that made him the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2007.
Dallas would certainly need to have a back-up plan in place in case of the likely possibility that Oden goes down with an injury but bringing Oden to Dallas for a reasonable price would at least be something work looking into for Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson.
Andray Blatche showed this season that while focused and healthy, he is an extremely capable big man at the NBA level.
Blatche shot over 50 percent for the first time in his NBA career, and scored in double figures despite coming off the bench for Brooklyn.
If he doesn't go back to the Nets, Blatche could be another big weapon in the Mavericks offense playing alongside Dirk Nowitzki.
In addition, at 26, Blatche still is developing as a player and could be going to Dallas at just the right time.
Timofey Mozgov probably wouldn't do much to excite the Maverick fanbase, but Mozgov could grow into a steady NBA contributor.
The 7'1'' big man had a hard time getting off the bench this year in Denver, but his defensive skills are evident, and he could be a big body that the Mavs bring off the bench to help them boost their biggest areas of weakness: rebounding and protecting the basket.