The Mavericks struck early this offseason, pulling off a trade with the Knicks to bring Tyson Chandler back to Dallas, giving them the rim protection that was severely lacking last season, despite the best efforts of Samuel Dalembert. However, sending Jose Calderon away in the same trade leaves the team with a vacancy at the starting point guard position, one which many don’t feel Raymond Felton can fill.
The recent bargain re-signing of Devin Harris provides continuity and depth at the position, and I’m sure every Mavs fan remembers the heroics he pulled off late in the season as the Mavs were trying to secure a playoff spot, as well as in the playoffs against San Antonio. That said, given his ‘Monta-lite’ playing style, it stands to reason that it would make more sense if the Mavs brought in someone who could space the floor better while still being a smart passer to start alongside Monta Ellis.
Nelson is a solid, well-regarded veteran who has playoff experience from playing on those Dwight Howard-led Orlando teams. He might not be the flashiest or most exciting name on the market, but he would bring a steady presence, and the Mavs don’t usually do flashy anyway. He would also be relatively cheaper than most other free agent options, with Jared Zwerling indicating that he could be had for something in the $5-7 million range. This would be a steal considering the contracts Jodie Meeks and Avery Bradley (to say nothing of the Ben Gordon deal) have received this offseason.
With a bigger need (and therefore more money to be spent) at the small forward position, and Monta evolving into the primary ballhandler last season, the Mavs don’t need an expensive, big-name star to be their starting point guard. Nelson would be a reliable and affordable option, passing intelligently and knocking down open threes.