For better or for worse, the Dallas Mavericks were relatively stress-free heading into draft night. While other teams were finalizing their draft boards, fielding trade offers and going through last-minute scouting reports, the Mavs front office may have even had a night off.
After all, Dallas didn’t have any picks.
This wheeling and dealing around draft night is nothing out of the ordinary for this franchise. Dallas has established a pattern as of late by moving around in the draft or trading picks altogether. So it’s fair to say fans aren’t too shocked by the move.
And the trade offers a glimpse into Dallas’ offseason plans. By sending away two picks and a young player in Larkin for an older Chandler and Felton, it shows that the Mavs are in something of a win-now mode.
So if "win now" is the mandate, which isn’t too surprising, we can start to get an idea of what the next moves are for this team.
And it all starts with Tyson Chandler.
Ever since he left after winning the 2011 NBA championship, the Mavs have been starved for someone like him. Chandler had a unique blend of size, mobility and smarts that allowed him to protect the rim and anchor the defense. That combination of skills is in very short supply, so it’s no surprise he won the Defensive Player of the Year Award as a Knick in 2012.
Having Chandler back should do wonders for this team. With the search for a Chandler-like center over, Dallas can turn its attention toward other goals.
Goals like wooing Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James.
Yes, it feels a little like deja vu, but like an old ex, the front office swears that this time it’s going to be different.
According to ESPN Dallas’ Tim McMahon, the front office believes that adding Chandler makes the Mavs a much more appealing destination for the likes of James and Anthony. And Earl K. Snead of Mavs.com heard something similar straight from the horse’s mouth.
So it seems that yet again, the Mavs are ready to roll the dice on a big-time free agent. And since that seems to be the case, the first move is to get those recruiting pitches up and running.
Though it seems like the team’s two best recruiters might be Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler.
And looking at the situation in the big picture, the Mavs have plenty to offer. They won 49 games last season and made the playoffs. Rick Carlisle is one of the best coaches in the NBA, and Nowitzki is still performing at a peak level. Texas has no state income tax and Mark Cuban is a player’s owner. All things told, Dallas is pretty attractive.
But that isn’t the Mavs’ only move. Even if Cuban and general manager Donnie Nelson manage to bring Melo or LeBron to Dallas, the roster needs more work.
According to Spotrac, the Mavericks have roughly $28.4 million in cap room to work with. Beyond re-signing Nowitzki and going after LeBron or Melo, Dallas also wants to re-sign guys like Devin Harris, Vince Carter and Shawn Marion.
And since Jose Calderon is gone, the roster could use another shooter. Maybe someone like Mike Miller or Jodie Meeks. That would be another thing to add to the free-agent to-do list.
In other words, the Mavs have some salary-cap magic to work.
There’s just no way all these things can be accomplished by simply using salary-cap room. Nelson and Cuban will break out the mid-level exception, Bird rights and anything else they can find to mold the roster they need.
But before the salary-cap magic can happen, the team has to know if it can lure Carmelo or LeBron to Big D. That first domino has to fall before the Mavericks can make another move.
If they strike out again on an A-list guy, look for someone like Luol Deng to be next on the list. Or for the front office to target restricted free agents like Eric Bledsoe and Gordon Hayward.
Whatever happens, hopefully it happens quickly. If LeBron and Carmelo take their time picking a team and Dallas doesn’t come away with one of them, the available free-agent pool will be seriously limited. And then that aforementioned magic might have to be a miracle.
Moving forward, look for Dallas to make a really strong run at Carmelo. ESPN Dallas’ Bryan Gutierrez thinks the shot at LeBron is a small one, so Carmelo is probably the first option.
And the next move will be to re-sign Harris, Nowitzki, Carter and whoever else Dallas can fit under the cap.
But if Melo goes to Chicago or any of the other myriad of potential destinations, things could get very hectic very quickly for the Mavs.