The following is a roundtable-style discussion between two Dallas Mavericks Community Members, Alex McVeigh and Janet Kessler.
It is the first in a series of articles that will look at the offseason moves that the Dallas Mavericks can/should make.
This one looks at several free agents, from the very possible to the improbable, in roughly that order, followed by the one scenario each of us would like to see.
First off, as hard-core MFFLs (Mavs Fans For Life), it's easy to forget and not be objective about other teams players. It's like I'm pre-programmed to hate this guy, because he plays for the enemy.
But given a second thought, I've come to a sobering realization that the Mavericks need help. Without a miracle pick in the draft, trading with other teams deems are best hope.
So I can warm-up to anybody if they are in a Mavericks uniform. After all, I'm not trading my colors, they are.
Jason Kidd: No longer under contract, Jason Kidd is an unrestricted free agent.
His $21.3 million is off the Mavericks books. The question is, will he stay in Dallas, or will he be lured elsewhere? The Cavs, with their Chinese money, are making serious noise about wanting Kidd.
We gave up so much to get him here that it seemed to be too much at times. No one will forget the Harris/Kidd trade. It's looking more like Antoine Wright will be the only thing the Mavericks got in the deal.
Unless the Mavs are able to move up to select Rubio or Tyrkee Evans, they need to sign Kidd. They should be able to, but with the Cavs' early ouster, they could be a team that will overspend on Kidd, even if it is just to keep Bron Bron around.
Shaq: Shaq's contract expires after the 2010 season, meaning he could be trade bait for the Suns to get under the luxury tax.
Janet: At first thought, I would jump on the bandwagon for a trade that involved Shaq for Dampier and Stackhouse. Shaq would be an upgrade over Damp. He's a better shot blocker, he averages 15 points more, and is a better rebounder. Even if Shaq's minutes were limited, I think he could provide enough game to make a big impact.
On the other hand, this a buyer's market. The Mavericks would be very smart to wait and see who will be available. Shaq would be good for an "if all else fails" deal.
The Mavericks need to get younger and more athletic.
With the current economic climate, there are a lot of NBA teams hurting for cash. With salary and Luxury tax lowered, teams with money to spend can hold out for the best deals.
I think with the financial situations some teams are facing, we could see deals the could make the Gasol deal look, well...expensive.
So with this thinking in mind, I believe the Mavericks can do better than Shaq.
Another thing to remember: Owner Mark Cuban is willing to play Monty Hall with his pocketbook, but only if the price is right.
Renting Shaq for a year could solve a huge problem for the Mavs. Inconsistent-center play has plagued them since the '06 run, when Damp/Diop formed a two-headed monster.
Plus, we've seen what Shaq can do when motivated. The quest for another ring, particularly if Kobe wins this year, could be started in Dallas, where Shaq could do what he did to (gulp) Miami.
Shaq's presence would take a lot of low-post pressure off Dirk, and hell, maybe Shaq could teach Ryan Hollins how to pack on some pounds.
Chris Kaman: Kaman is signed through 2012-2013, and could be used as bait by the Clips, who suddenly have a glut of big men, assuming they pick up Griffin.
Janet: My personal favorite for center. Not only is he young enough, but his points and rebound averages are close to what we are looking for.Most of all, he has history playing with Dirk, as the two of them played together last summer at the Beijing Olympics.My biggest concern about Kaman, who will be starting his seventh season, is he has had only one healthy season.It may have come when he was on a losing team, but that does nothing but motivate one to play through anything. I would love to know, if he could gut it out if need to, just like Josh did. Alex: While his chemistry issues with Dirk cannot be understated, there's no guarantee Kaman can play healthy. White players over seven feet have trouble staying healthy, and I don't know if Kaman is necessarily an athletic improvement over Dampier.
Baron Davis: Davis has another long contract with the Clippers, and could be traded due to the Clippers' financial woes.
Janet: Davis would definitely be someone to replace Stackhouse's role as an enforcer. If he was on the Mavericks, we wouldn't have to worry about him pestering Dirk. By that, I mean Davis is a good defender.Just like Kaman, Davis has a record of not staying healthy. And like Kaman, he has never had a reason or motivation to play hurt.Alex: Another player who has torched the Mavs in the past, but isn't necessarily the answer to their future. Davis' contract would completely destroy any chance the Mavs would have of getting a big free agent in 2010, and for someone who struggled to stay healthy in his 20's, that concerns me.If they sign Davis, they're basically going all-in for the rest of Dirk's contract, and I don't know if he's the player you wager that on.
Chris Bosh: Bosh is eligible for free agency after the 2009-10 season, and has declined to extend his contract with Toronto. He is seeking a max deal.
Janet: I'd like the idea of having the Dallas native on the Mavericks. But he would have to be second to Dirk, and play the center position.Unfortunately, Bosh also wants a max deal. From Mark Cuban? Yeah, right. With all the free agents this summer to pick and choose from, I don't see that happening. But then again, Dampier got one.
While Bosh would initially seem to be a good fit, I'm not so sure he would be. He doesn't seem capable of carrying a mediocre team, which could be a real issue after Dirk finishes with the Mavs.
He also seems to have peaked as a player, averaging 22 points per game for the last few seasons. While he is athletic and a good shooter, I don't like the idea of him and Dirk fighting for minutes at the four spot, nor do I like him playing most of his minutes at the center, which is out of his position.
Tracy McGrady: T-Mac is an expiring contract, and an expensive one for a team that didn't need him to advance in the playoffs. He could be turned into something the Rockets could use.
Janet: A hot-shooting two guard. Also great at creating his own shots, someone who can score in bunches. T-Mac only needs the ball and to stay healthy.But can he stay healthy? That's the million dollar question, or $19.6 million to be exact. T-Mac is in the final year of a $80.2 million contract. Alex: An expensive gamble, but the kind that could have the Mavs hoisting the Larry O'Brien in a year's time. A starting lineup of Kidd, T-Mac, Josh Howard, Dirk, and Mikki Moore/Ryan Hollins (see below) with Terry, Bass, Wright and company coming off the bench would be dynamite.
Chris Paul: Now we get to the less likely. A once-in-a-lifetime point guard entering his prime, Paul could be a casualty of the Hornets dire financial straits, as well as the possibility of the team moving in the future.
He would be an awesome catch. With him, we would not have to worry about the point-guard position for several years. He's younger, more athletic, always near the top of the league in assists. A legitimate All-Star that will drive to the hoop and take his own shots. Paul has already proven that he can lead from the point.
I like the idea if you can't beat 'em, buy 'em. I've heard he has a contract extension, with a hefty price tag attached. But it can't be as big as Kidd's $103.5 million deal that has expired. Kidd's salary last season was $21.3 million, so anything less than that is added cap space for the Mavericks.
It's funny how the addition of a superstar can fix a lot of problems. Sign Paul, and you've got him in his prime along with a young Howard, a Dirk that can still ball, plus whoever they can attract at a discount, like the Celtics did last season.
However unlikely it is, it would be awesome, but crazier things have happened.
Kobe Bryant: Should the Lakers not win a title, Kobe has to face reality that he might not get there again with the Lakers, due to the departures of Ariza and/or Odom. Dallas was once a possible destination for him, an possibly could be once again.
Why would I want this egomaniac on my team? Okay, so he's a one-man basketball freak show. He also has a history of not playing well with others, unless he's getting his way.
Unless Mark Cuban is planning a reunion of Kobe and Shaq in Dallas, I'm not going to hold my breath for this one.
I don't think Kobe will leave the Lakers should they fail to win a title this year. They got a miracle trade with Gasol and everybody is healthy. Also, I don't think they'll be able to go back next year, not with another year of LeBron, a healthy Garnett, another year for the Blazers, and Chris Paul having another season under his belt.
Kobe wants to win a title for the Lakers, even though he could make an immediate impact on any team (again, funny how a superstar does that). However the Mavs are one of a handful of teams that is perfectly suited for Kobe's skill set.
With unselfish stars like Dirk and Kidd, Kobe could thrive, and not have the chemistry issues that he would with other teams.