Dallas Mavericks Would Be Smart to Pair Chris Bosh with Dirk Nowitzki in 2014

D.J. Foster@@fosterdjContributor INovember 30, 2013

Getty Images

Chris Bosh and Dirk Nowitzki.

Doesn't seem like a natural fit, does it? Admittedly, there are quite a few concerns that spring to mind when you try to envision the pair playing next to each other.

Can a team really survive without a low-post presence? Can an offense be based around two 6'11" guys tossing up jumpers all game? Who will handle the dirty work? Do their skills overlap too much? Where does the rim protection come from?

These are all valid questions, but they shouldn't be enough to dissuade the Dallas Mavericks from putting the full-court pressure on Chris Bosh to leave Miami this offseason.

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 26: Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Western Conference All-Stars hugs Chris Bosh #1 of the Eastern Conference All-Stars prior to the 2012 NBA All-Star Game presented by Kia Motors as part of 2012 All-Star Weekend at the Amway Center on Feb
Jack Arent/Getty Images

Why Dallas?

There are a variety of reasons why luring Bosh from Miami may be difficult, but Dallas has as good of a chance as anyone else.

While LeBron James may flirt with the idea of returning home to Cleveland, perhaps Bosh will do the same, as he was born and raised in Dallas. Hometown cooking isn't enough on its own, though. The money needs to be there too.

Luckily, Dallas has only about $31.1 million committed to nine players for next season, and the salary cap for 2014-15 is projected to be at $62.1 million.

That leaves Dallas with right around $30 million in cap room, which is plenty, as Bosh will be able to demand a max contract worth about $20 million in his first season.

Of course, that's not factoring in Nowitzki's cap hold of over $22.7 million, which Dallas will have to renounce (along with Nowitzki's Bird Rights) at the outset of free agency to create the required room to sign a max guy like Bosh.

So then the question becomes this: Would Nowitzki accept a contract at right around $10 million a year to play with Bosh and stay in Dallas? 

Nowitzki's comments after Kobe Bryant's extension paint a positive picture:

I don’t really want to look forward too much...I’m not going to extend, obviously. I’m going to play the season out, and we can talk about it this summer. I want to have a good season, an injury-free season...and we’ll go from there...

My contract is coming off, Trix [Shawn Marion] is coming off, Vince [Carter]...Obviously, there’s a lot of money under the cap, and we can make this team better. But I’m more worried about this season.


No extension is coming, but Nowitzki has said in the past that he expects to take a paycut on his deal this offseason: "I guess that's something we need to look at next summer when it gets to the point, but I'm sure it will be a significant pay cut."

Bosh could be one of the very best players on the market if he opts for long-term financial security and exercises his early termination option to enter free agency. After striking out the last few years in free agency, it's hard to imagine Nowitzki would balk at taking a paycut that he's already geared himself up for.

From Bosh's side, he'll have another opportunity to team up with a superstar, but he'll also be able to take over the team in the upcoming years. 

The Los Angeles Lakers will present a similar opportunity with Bryant, but the supporting cast in Dallas with Nowitzki, Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon should be significantly better than what the Lakers would be able to cobble together.

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12: Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks shoots over Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat during Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals on June 12, 2011 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

Odd Couples

On the court, both Nowitzki and Bosh have proven capable of playing in highly nontraditional frontcourts. Putting Bosh at the 5 took the Miami Heat to new levels, and his game has adapted to the demands of that position. While you don't think "great defender" when you hear Bosh's name, his pick-and-roll defense has become one of the stronger points of his game over the years.

Nowtizki is another player who defends better than his reputation would have you think, as he's legitimately one of the better post defenders in the game. Nowitzki is a master of stripping opponents and causing turnovers in that setting, and he's solid when challenged directly.

While you would think that having Nowitzki on the floor without a true 5 would cause problems, the Mavericks have an offensive/defensive efficiency net rating this season of plus-10.1 in the 201 minutes Nowitzki has played with 6'7" forward DeJuan Blair, according to NBA.com. Smart, talented players in good schemes like Nowitzki and Bosh find ways to make it work. 

That's not to suggest that there wouldn't be challenges defensively and on the glass, but a rebounding, defensive-minded small forward like Shawn Marion could solve a lot of those problems.

More importantly, the Mavericks would be a nightmare to defend on the other end. Ellis has looked great in the pick-and-roll with Nowitzki so far, and giving him another potent pick-and-pop option in Bosh would be death for defenses. 

The driving lanes for Ellis would be cleaner than ever before, as Bosh and Nowitzki would keep the paint unoccupied with the threat of their jumpers. Jose Calderon has long been a master of getting teams into their sets in the half-court, and it doesn't hurt that he's one of the most efficient shooters in the game.

The creativity of head coach Rick Carlisle should be a huge selling point as well. Bosh experienced first hand the level of scheming Carlisle is capable of, and he can be rest assured that the type of looks Nowitzki regularly gets would be his steady diet as well.  

DALLAS, TX - JUNE 9: Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat drives against Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks in Game Five of the 2011 NBA Finals on June 9, 2011 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

Enough Incentive?

If Bosh is parting with LeBron James (or the other way around), he's also leaving the days of single-coverage behind unless he teams up with great shooters like Nowitzki and Calderon.

If the Mavericks signed Bosh and then brought back Nowitzki, acquiring veterans on the cheap and using mid-level exceptions to round out the roster wouldn't be difficult.

Dallas has long been regarded as one of the most player-friendly franchises thanks to Mark Cuban's presence, and it's the only NBA location outside of Florida that has no state income tax. That's a big deal when you're pulling in $20 million a year.

There are definite advantages Dallas has over other teams with cap space this season, even if they've struggled to land a marquee free agent in the recent past. The infrastructure is sound, ownership is willing to pay and Nowitzki should still have a few years of high quality basketball left in him. Dallas may not be a title contender now, but they aren't all that far away.

It seems likely that Bosh will stay in Miami so long as James and Wade do, but he'll have his options if that changes. With all that cap space, the Mavericks will have options as well.

And while it may not seem like a great fit at first glance, Bosh heading back home to Dallas to play with Nowitzki could be an explosive match. 


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.