The Dallas Mavericks are trying to make the most of Dirk Nowitzki's final years on the job, and they know they'll need some help. While that help would ideally come in the form of the New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony, he apparently isn't their only big-name target.
ESPN.com's Marc Stein reports that the club also has its sights set on big man Paul Gasol:
Gasol would theoretically relish the opportunity to join fellow Spaniard Jose Calderon. But as of yet, he hasn't publicly included the Mavs on his list of preferred destinations. Back in May, he mentioned several possibilities, including the Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies, Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs.
The soon-to-be 34-year-old would certainly help any one of those teams, but he'd be a pivotal difference-maker in Dallas. As Bleacher Report's Ben Leibowitz notes, "It’s clear that the 13-year pro still has plenty left in the tank. He dominated in January by averaging 20.8 points, 11.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.7 blocks while shooting 51 percent from the field."
With Samuel Dalembert manning the center position for Dallas this season, the club is due for an upgrade. Even if Dalembert returns—as he's expected to—the Mavericks could use a better scorer in the starting lineup, and Gasol would certainly qualify as that.
While a number of teams will no doubt be interested in Gasol's services, several factors will come into play—chief among them cap space.
That's one thing that may put Dallas in the lead, especially with other potential suitors (like the Bulls) eyeing Anthony as their prized free-agent addition.
The Mavericks have just over $27 million in salary commitments scheduled so far for next season. Re-signing Nowitzki will no doubt eat into some of the remaining cap space, but he's set to accept a steep pay cut so that the team can land some additional talent.
Gasol may have a similar attitude. Per Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix, he said,
I want to be in a team that is going to be built to win a championship. That's my top priority. Money won't be the main priority. Length and money are factors, but we'll see. Until I know all the options, I won't be able to measure them. But we're getting close to the end of my career. I want to be in a good situation. It's an important decision to make.
The Lakers will also have plenty of room to re-sign Gasol, but it's unclear whether the aging veteran wants to hang around for Los Angeles' rebuilding process. He butted heads with former coach Mike D'Antoni this season and seemed generally uncomfortable with his role for much of the season.
A change of scenery could be in order, and Dallas may be the solution.