Coming off of a 41-41 season, the Dallas Mavericks are looking to make a major splash in free agency to try to creep back into the Western Conference playoff mix.
With their three top returning players (Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter, Shawn Marion) all being in their mid-30s, the team knows that now is the time to put all of its resources into building a contender.
Much of the focus thus far has been on the Mavericks trying to land one of the top two free agents available in the summer of 2013, Chis Paul and Dwight Howard.
We've been here before, just a season ago when Dallas gave up key pieces from its 2011 NBA championship team to pursue Howard and Deron Williams in free agency. But the strategy failed, and even with some other high-profile free-agent signings, all the Mavs could do was manage a .500 season.
This year, even though the team has high hopes for signing one of the two, Dallas also has to prepare for the possibility of striking out again. If it does, it could make some surprise moves in free agency to try to shake up the roster.
While conventional wisdom may not have these players landing in Dallas, Mark Cuban and company may pony up to make one last attempt to try to turn the Mavericks into a championship team while Dirk Nowitzki is still playing at a star level.
The initial reaction to J.R. Smith coming to Dallas for most Mavs fans may be an exaggerated groan, but when you really think about it, Smith may make more sense than you think.
Smith is, after all, the reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year, and even if there are questions about his attitude and work ethic, you can't question his offensive talent.
Smith can fill up the stat sheet, and while he is a high-volume shooter, Dallas is almost in need of a player like that to compliment Dirk Nowitzki.
O.J. Mayo failed in Dallas partially because he wasn't aggressive enough after Dirk returned from injury.
J.R. would not have that problem.
Signing Smith allows the Mavericks to still revolve the offense around Nowitzki, but have that solid second option capable of having a big scoring game from the perimeter.
Yes, the Mavs already have Vince Carter, but he is much more suited for a sixth-man role at this point in his career, and having him and Smith out there together would give the Mavericks two legitimate perimeter scoring threats.
Plus, after his poor performance in the Eastern Conference Semifinals this year, Smith's price tag may have gone significantly down, just enough for the Mavericks to swoop in and grab him.
There are few more eccentric characters in the NBA right now than Chris "Birdman" Andersen currently of the Miami Heat.
While Birdman may currently be preparing for Game 7 of the NBA Finals, don't be surprised if it is his last game in Miami as a member of the Heat.
Andersen is an unrestricted free agent after this season, and he may find a home on a Dallas team desperate to add frontcourt depth.
Birdman isn't the perfect matchup for every NBA big man (like Tim Duncan), but he does bring toughness and a strong presence in the paint, something the Mavericks were severely lacking this past season.
Andersen has also shown the ability to be a proficient scorer, shooting over 80 percent from the field in the playoffs.
The Mavs wouldn't bring in the Birdman to start for them, but for a team looking to get tougher and play more aggressively in the paint, there could be much worse fits than Chris Andersen coming off the Mavericks bench.
There are a lot of reasons why Manu Ginobili wouldn't make sense in Dallas.
He is 35, seems to be running out of gas and has played some God-awful games in the NBA playoffs.
He has played his whole career in San Antonio, one of the chief rivals of the Mavericks, and has won three going on four championships with the Spurs.
Dallas already has an aging shooting guard coming off the bench in Vince Carter, and bringing in Manu would only make the team older.
All of those are valid points.
But if the Mavericks are looking to make a splash, there are few bigger ones than bringing in two-time All-Star Manu Ginobili.
Plus, there is a real good chance that they could catch lightning in a bottle even if it's just for one season of whatever Ginobili has left in the tank.
There is little harm in bringing in Manu if they could pry him away from the Spurs and he decides not to retire (which would seemingly be much easier if the Spurs win Game 7 Thursday night, completing their run of the last decade.)
Manu's price likely wouldn't be too high. And as he showed in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, when he's right, he can still be one of the most dynamic players in the NBA.
If you keep Manu on limited minutes, let him come off the bench and come to terms with some of his bad games, the pros could outweigh the cons.
After all, it's not like Ginobili is chopped liver. He still averaged nearly 12 points per game and 4.6 assists in the regular season, and has almost mirrored that in the playoffs.
It's highly unlikely Manu Ginobili will ever play a game in a Mavericks uniform, but the team wouldn't be doing its due diligence if it didn't at least entertain the possibility of bringing him on board for the 2013-14 season.
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