Updates from Thursday, July 24
Marc Stein of ESPN passed along the latest contract details for Jameer Nelson:
Mavs & Jameer Nelson finalizing two-year, $6M deal that will include player option in Year 2. ESPN sources say deal will be completed today— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 24, 2014
As expected, the Dallas Mavericks and veteran point guard Jameer Nelson will officially come to terms on a one-year, $2.7 million contract on Thursday.
Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears confirmed that Dallas will use its so-called "room" exception to help shore up its point guard depth. Teams that operate under the salary cap can use the room exception to sign a player and go over the cap.
Once the deal is official, the Mavericks will only be able to use minimum contracts to sign players.
When Jameer Nelson and Al-Farouq Aminu sign their deals, the #Mavs will have 14 players with guarantee contracts. And 1 min. contract left.— Dwain Price (@DwainPrice) July 24, 2014
Nelson, 32, was initially planning to visit Dallas on Thursday for a recruiting visit. According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, the Mavs were also interested in fellow veteran Mo Williams. John Reid of NOLA.com suggests the New Orleans Pelicans also reached out to Nelson earlier in the free-agency process.
Nelson spent the first decade of his career with the Orlando Magic. A 2009 All-Star, he averaged 12.1 points and 7.0 assists per game last season on 39.4 percent shooting.
The rebuilding Magic moved on this summer by drafting Louisiana-Lafayette's Elfrid Payton and signing veteran Luke Ridnour. Nelson, whose name floated on the trade block late in his Orlando tenure, was always expected to leave for a contender.
Wednesday was a busy day at Dallas headquarters overall, as it brought in two players and jettisoned another.
David Aldridge of NBA.com confirmed the Mavs and forward Al-Farouq Aminu came to terms on a two-year, $2.1 million contract. Aminu will help eliminate concerns after NBA.com's Jeff Caplan reported the Mavericks voided Rashard Lewis' deal due to a knee injury that came to light during a physical.
The Mavericks expect Aminu to fit a need for a defensive presence on the wing and work as a small-ball power forward in certain lineups.
Adding Nelson should complete the Mavericks' backcourt depth. He will compete with Devin Harris and Raymond Felton for the starting point guard job, and head coach Rick Carlisle will likely spend a ton of time playing two natural point guards.
Owner Mark Cuban told ESPNDallas.com's Tim MacMahon Wednesday that Felton, who recently signed a plea deal on federal gun charges, according to The Associated Press (per ESPN.com), would not be traded.
"We like him and think he will have a great year," Cuban said. "Do quote me on that."
Felton was acquired from the New York Knicks in a deal highlighted by Tyson Chandler and Jose Calderon. With Felton, Nelson and Harris, Carlisle will have three lead ball-handlers who each bring something different to the table.
Nelson is a steady caretaker and solid passer who can flat-out shoot the basketball. Basketball-Reference.com indicates he's a career 37.4 percent shooter from three-point range and has hit the elusive 40 percent mark in four seasons.
He also has a wide, 190-pound frame on his 6'0" body that allows him to atone for his lack of height with toughness and strength.
The Mavs are banking on a return to contention reawakening some of his competitive spirit.
Harris' shot was essentially broken last year, but he brought Dallas something it desperately needed: perimeter defense. With Calderon and Monta Ellis serving as the starting backcourt, the Mavs were typically a revolving door on the outside until Harris came in to spell one of them.
Dallas was borderline unstoppable when Harris was on the floor last season, as NBA.com indicates it outscored teams by 11.2 points per 100 possessions in such situations.
It'll be interesting to see if Harris starts or if Carlisle uses him to help prop up bench-heavy units.
Felton is the wild card after slogging through a miserable 2013-14 in New York. According to SNY.tv's Adam Zagoria, the case was made multiple times that he was the worst starting point guard in the NBA.
His scoring and efficiency numbers dipped across the board, and his defensive effort was nonexistent on a team that needed every ounce of defensive help it could get.
Nelson and Harris should safely slot ahead of Felton going into camp. If Carlisle can deal with having two defensive minuses in his starting backcourt again, Nelson is probably the favorite to start. Harris is versatile enough that he can slip into the shooting guard role when Ellis sits. Nelson is not.
Even if he doesn't start, the Mavs got another excellent, bang-for-their-buck signing. They might not be a title contender at the moment, but they're getting more dangerous by the day.
Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.