NBA Free Agency 2011: Where Tyson Chandler and 5 Other Dallas Mavericks FAs Land
The Dallas Mavericks are world champions.
They have definitely celebrated accordingly, but it's been more than a week, and now they must turn their attention to free agency and the NBA Draft. With Tyson Chandler, Jose Juan Barea and four other key players becoming free agents this summer, Dallas has a lot of decisions to make.
Each of its six free agents helped in its quest for a championship (except Caron Butler, but he was a key to their hot start at the beginning of the season), and now they must be weighed for their pros and cons.
How will Dallas make unbiased decisions on these players who the fan base fell in love with this season?
What's going to happen with sniper Peja Stojakovic? How about one of their emotional leaders and Finals hero, DeShawn Stevenson? Where does "The Custodian," Brian Cardinal, fit in?
With the lockout looming, players are anxious to find work. The Mavericks need to make these moves soon.
Otherwise, desperate teams are going to throw big money at these guys, and it might be too late.
6. Brian Cardinal, 2011 Salary: $854,389
Cardinal was better than anyone could have imagined in the NBA Finals.
In fact, I don't think anyone imagined him even playing in the NBA Finals. He sat out the previous six games of the playoffs before making a short cameo in Game 2 in Miami.
Maybe not so surprisingly, in the the three games that Dallas won (in a row), Cardinal had a legitimate impact, playing seven, nine and 12 minutes, respectively. He obviously brings something to the table.
He brings toughness, effort, emotion, size, and the do-whatever-it-takes-to-win attitude that Dallas badly needed following the disastrous loss in Game 3.
He is one of Dirk's best friends, and he is beyond extremely cheap. I'll take my chances.
Final result: Cardinal comes back at an extremely team-friendly discount. Cardinal knows a good thing when he sees it, and Cuban would be silly not to pay him. 2 YRS/$3.2 MIL
5. DeShawn Stevenson, 2011 Salary: $4,151,786
Abe Lincoln neck tattoo? Check.
Swagger of a champion? Check.
Stevenson really showed a ton of heart this series. After being benched in Game 3, Stevenson didn't say one word. Not one complaint. He sat on the bench, cheered his teammates on, and when called upon, calmly drilled 7-of-14 three-pointers.
This is a guy you want on your side. Mr. Three-Goggles.
Aside from the antics and the three-pointers, Stevenson is a terrific perimeter defender who can defend the NBA's best.
Final result: Stevenson would love to remain a Maverick, but I don't think Dallas puts together a sweet enough deal. DeShawn either takes a "home-town discount," or he flees for greener (yes, money) pastures. What he will get: 3 YRS/$12 MIL—What Dallas can afford: 2 YRS/$7.5 MIL
4. Peja Stojakovic, 2011 Salary: $402,065
Peja Stojakovic, dead eye shooter.
With Dallas running a pick and roll style offense through Dirk, Peja was able to find open space on the wings and in the corner. He has always been able to get off the quick three, but it seemed this playoff run that he did it with amazing accuracy (although he clearly was worn down by the time Oklahoma City came to town).
His flawless Game 4 against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers, when he shot 7-of-7 from the field (6-of-6 from three-point range), only cemented his legend as one of the great shooters of our time.
There is one glaring problem with Peja, though:
It is almost sad to watch him attempt to guard someone. Watching him play defense literally makes me cringe. But, luckily for Peja, Tyson Chandler was able to mask his defensive deficiencies, so he could play extended minutes.
Although Peja has stated that he has no desire to retire, Dallas is going to have to think long and hard about bringing him back. The Mavs have Marion. They could have Butler (Caron), and they have plenty of three-point bombers.
The result: Dallas opts to let Peja go. His defense is killer, and it was very obvious that he couldn't play with the more athletic teams in the league (OKC, Miami, etc.) No one wants to see him go, and there is obviously a possibility that he stays for cheap, but I would be extremely surprised. Expect him to stay in the Western Conference though. What he will get: 1 YR/$1 MIL (Dallas could match, but won't)
3. Caron Butler, 2011 Salary: $10,561,960
Caron Butler is a terrific basketball player. He can score from anywhere, he can rebound and he is a solid defender.
He is also expensive as hell.
But could he be worth it?
Dallas was 24-7 before he went down with an injury. Following his departure, the Mavericks dropped seven of nine. Obviously, they were able to get back into a groove and finish third in the West. And clearly they won a championship without him. But if Dallas is going to get through the explosive Western Conference again, it is going to need Caron's scoring and energy.
Butler has been a fantastic teammate, even through the knee injury and subsequent rehab. He enjoyed the championship with his team with a big smile on his face. He wants it so bad, and he wants to do it with Dirk and all his guys.
This is his team. He wants in.
Final Result: Caron, in a move that will surprise quite a few people, stays with Dallas. Cuban will have to open the piggy bank, but Caron has proven his worth in this league. Butler is a veteran leader that will flawlessly transition back into his starting role in place of the missing DeShawn Stevenson. 3 YRS/$24 MIL
2. Jose Juan "JJ" Barea, 2011 Salary: $1,815,000
If Peja was perfect for Dallas because of the pick and roll, than I guess Barea is perfect for Dallas because he is the pick and roll.
Obviously, it's because of Dirk, but Barea runs it best with him.
J.J. had a tough time at the beginning of the Miami series. He couldn't find his range, wasn't working within the flow of the offense, and he was forcing some pretty terrible shots.
Then came Rick Carlisle's brilliance.
Once J.J. got inserted into the starting lineup, everything changed. The fluidity of his offense was there, the three ball was back, and all of a sudden, Dallas started winning.
Even though the Mavs definitely could not have won without Barea, he needs them a lot more than they need him.
What other team in the NBA can run the high pick and roll as well as a team with Dirk Nowitzki—the most prolific perimeter big-man scorer in the game today?
Barea needs Dallas, and Dallas loves Barea.
Final result: J.J. almost has no choice but to return. He could easily sign somewhere else, but he knows that his ability and his style will only work in Dallas. What he will get offered from other teams: 4 YRS/$22 MIL—What he accepts from Dallas: 3 YRS/$15 MIL (three years coincides with the end of Dirk's contract)
1. Tyson Chandler, 2011 Salary: $12,600,000
Tyson Chandler is the single most important free agent in the NBA in the summer of 2011.
Yes, I am including the likes of Tim Duncan (who has an early termination option which he will obviously not trigger—he's a Spur for life), Ray Allen (who already committed to Boston), Jamal Crawford and Nene.
Chandler is more important than all of those guys. I didn't see any of them swinging a title this past year. Tyson brought to Dallas the toughness, swagger and athleticism it was missing this past decade.
He stepped in and immediately became the heart and soul of the defense.
Chandler worked extremely hard, and now he is going to be sweetly rewarded—and he deserves it.
If Dallas is for some reason dumb enough to let him go, there will be about 25 teams (no exaggeration) who would inquire about his services. And why not? He is the only center available (aside from Nene, who is terrific) who can actually start on a championship team.
We learned this season that he can lead one too.
The result: Cuban proves to Mavericks fans, once again, that he will do whatever it takes to win. With his wallet $65 million dollars lighter, the dot-com-boom billionaire gives Tyson a five-year deal, and goes to sleep with a smile on his face.
All of Dallas will be smiling with him.
Let me know what you think!
Hit me up in the comments section below, and I will respond as soon as I can. I hope you enjoyed!