How should the Mavericks round out their team


With all the hoopla surrounding free agency, the league awaits the one guy that could cause enough chaos for an entire year…King James.

The Mavericks have been one of the busier teams this offseason, first making news of trading for 2011 champion, Tyson Chandler. By now you should know the deal also included Raymond Felton, Shane Larkin, Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert and Wayne Ellington. The Mavericks also sent both their 2014 draft picks, No. 34 and 51, in which the Knicks drafted Cleanthony Early and Thanasis Antetokounmpo, both very good small forwards…something the Mavericks needed entering free agency.

A slew of calls followed once July 1 came around. Of course, Dirk was their main priority, but at the same time, in back of their mind. It was known for quite some time that Dirk would take a significant pay cut to get better players around Big D.

Phone calls erupted as Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson were in contact with Luol Deng, Chandler Parsons, Trevor Ariza among others that first day.

Other names that have been linked to the Mavs were Marcin Gortat, Isaiah Thomas, Lance Stephenson, Chris Bosh, Paul Pierce and of course, the two biggest fish in the sea, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony.

Five small forwards, the Mavs needing just one to solidify their entire starting lineup.

Shawn Marion has taken a back seat in all of this, but should know where he stands among Dallas. He was a good fit for Dallas in his five years here, but at his age, he’s better off following in Vince Carter‘s footsteps and adding depth and energy off the bench.

Marion and Carter could AND should return, but both have sparked interest elsewhere, such as the Miami Heat.

After the trade for Chandler, the Mavs’ next biggest move came for another Chandler, in Parsons, the young rising star from Houston.

Having not able to sign until July 10, the restricted free agent and Dallas agreed on a 3-year, $46 million offer sheet and officially signed when all others could the very next day.

If Parsons does end up in a Mavs jersey, he’d become the highest paid player on the team. With a high market, especially in the small forward position, that’s something to really think about, but it’s a good fit for Rick Carlisle.

Marion has always been known for his defense and he did improve his 3-point shot last year, but he’s not getting any younger so the question had to be asked, how long could he keep it up.

Parsons is young and no slouch on the defensive end, but the reason he’s a good fit is his floor spacing. Parsons has a far better shot than Matrix and he can be deadly from behind the arc.

At the time of the official offer-sheet signing, the Rockets had three days to match, which gives them until Saturday to do something.

Both teams are also discussing a sign-and-trade. The Rockets are trying to give Chris Bosh the max, but need to dump some role players to make enough room. They also want to match Dallas to bring back Parsons, but that’ll be difficult if Bosh wants the max.

All of this is like a pyramid, waiting to collapse. Bosh will most likely go to Houston if James leaves Miami for the Cavs. Bosh’s decision then hinders onto Houston’s decision on Parsons and the Mavs…so after more than 550 words, the question is where should the Mavs go from there?

With Felton starting at point and announcing to the world that “he can still be an elite point guard,” center and probably the point are the two most likely positions the Mavs need to fill.

Losing Calderon hurts their three-ball. Now it’s only Dirk that’s leading in the category and it’s quite a dip to get to Monta Ellis and Devin Harris, who are next on the list.

Mo Williams has interest with the Mavs and so does Dallas.

Others include Chris “Birdman” Andersen, although that’s my speculation, I have yet to hear any news on the two sides, and bringing back Marion, Carter and DeJuan Blair.

Now the Heat have interest in the last four, primarily because they need to fill up their roster. They currently have Norris Cole and that’s it. D-Wade will return, but it’s looking like Bosh and James will leave. Ray Allen is still out there and Shane Battier retired. I guess I forgot, they also have Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts, who recently agreed to join a team coming off four-straight Finals appearances.

Now back to the Mavs.

Rumor has it, they should offer Vinsanity their $2.7-million cap-room exception, but some are saying that Carter wouldn’t mind joining Miami as he grew up in the state of Florida. It isn’t much, but at his age and role, it fits and he gets to be treated like family in Dallas. He may want to leave for just a little more money, somewhere say a million more? Who knows.

There’s no real room for the Mavs to get any other big names, coming in with around $26 million in cap. Parsons would be set for 15, Dirk signed on for 10 a year and Harris also resigned. But they need a bench.

After Harris, there’s Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, Gal Mekel, Ricky Ledo and some on the summer-league roster in C.J. Fair, Bernard James, Chris Goulding and Ivan Johnson.

Bringing back Marion would be tough. He wasn’t cheap last season, making near the $9 million range, so he’d have to take a significant drop off, but what better way than to learn from Nowitzki.

Williams, who played in Portland last season, would be a good fit in Big D. If Carter declines the Mavs’ offer, that exception would go right to the 31-year-old point guard.

It would be his seventh team if he joined Dallas, but he would bring back some of the threes that Calderon took to New York.

A career 38.5 percent shooter from distance, he went for 37 percent in 74 games last season. Mind you, it’s no 45 percent like Jose, but he did make 83 of them in 24 minutes per game off Terry Stotts’ bench.

If I’m looking at the current Mavs bench, Harris, Mekel, Crowder, Ledo and Wright, they combine to have made 89 3-pointers a season ago.

Williams met with Dallas on Tuesday and does live in the area during the offseason.

I’ve always liked Blair and Wright, but have always said, the Mavs need more help at the center position. Both players are more power forwards than anything and added spark plugs, but if the Mavs don’t resign Blair, where does that leave them?

Like I said, Heat are interested in him, still…maybe, that was two days ago and I haven’t heard much since.

Mavs would get him for cheap, probably would pay him close to a million next season, and even though he’s a big load, he’s just not big enough to be a center. Coming off the bench, however, there’s a good chance he and his 6-9 body of work can take the hits.

As for Wright, he’s probably the most athletic on the team, Ellis could be too, but with him being so long, he’s a good source for boards and swats. The truth of the matter is he’s too skinny, hence, he didn’t play much in the playoffs due to match up problems. I’d like to see Brandan come in 10, 15 pounds heavier, but he probably won’t.

Birdman recently popped into my mind, but it’s far from what’s actually going to happen…unless he’s a dark horse and no one sees it coming. He’s long, athletic and a good defender. He adds depth to the five, takes some of the load off Chandler and Wright and adds spark and tons of energy. I’ve like Birdman since his Denver days, but I know a lot of Twitter doesn’t. To me, that’s only because he was in Miami the last couple years. If he was still in Denver, no harm done.

He’s a 1.5 career swatter, blocking 1.3 a game last year. I am far from calling him another Tyson Chandler, but he has the same feel as the former Defensive Player of the Year. He can get under people’s skin, he can be intimating (more so from all his tats than anything else), rebounds and blocks well, alters shots and energizes the crowd.

That’s my case for the Birdman, but again, with no news out there, I’m sure he’s not coming near Big D any time soon.

If all fails, I’ve mentioned some young guns in Goulding, 6-4 shooting guard, Ledo, 6-7 shooting guard, Fair, 6-8 small and Johnson, 6-8 power.

Johnson really catches my eye. If you’re not familiar with him, he spent the last two seasons with the Hawks. He’s well-traveled and a thickly muscled, 6-foot-8 power forward, who headed overseas again last year. He’s trying to earn a spot on the Mavs and even worked out with Carlisle earlier in the week on Wednesday.

That too will shed some of the load on some others like Wright or Crowder or even Blair, if he comes back.

As for the rest, Ledo saw time last season and is a lengthy two-guard. He probably could play the small and will be asked too.

Fair spent four years at Syracuse so he has a high basketball IQ and can score. Like Ledo, he could play other positions like shooting guard.

Goulding is a relatively new name, but the Aussie has lots of basketball experience as he’s played down under since 2006. In March, he scored a career-high 50 points in an NBL game and was named NBL All-Star MVP in 2013, won the scoring title this year and named to the 2014 All-NBL First Team.

In a perfect world, the Mavs could have a starting lineup of Felton, Ellis, Parsons, Nowitzki and Chandler and a bench of Harris, Williams, Crowder, Carter, Wright, Blair, Birdman, Johnson, Ledo and maybe one or two other guys depending on how you look at it.

A more realistic roster would feature the same starting-five, but no Carter and no Birdman…adding in someone like Mekel to the opening-night roster.

Worse case scenario would be something like Carter coming back, most of our summer league squad on the roster to start the season and no Parsons.

James isn’t helping much with the waiting and such, but I still give Parsons a 85 percent chance he’ll come to Dallas and I’m giving Dallas a 75 percent chance it’ll sign another “big name” small like an Ariza or Deng or Stephenson, if Parsons returns to Houston, because all three will want the same amount, and the Mavs would be willing to pay.

Whatever happens, happens. It’s sports and as people on the outside looking in, we have to accept it. Mavs fans just know one thing, and one thing only…Cuban loves this team and takes great care of it and he’s a great guy to trust.

This offseason is bigger than last year for the Mavs, who usually don’t make any headline news, but always have ways to do just fine and compete in the Western Conference. They’re just one or two tiny steps from a repeat of 2011, stay tuned……………………………………………….