Less than 24 hours after the Dallas Mavericks' season ended, the team said it wants to keep its core intact. That sounds great, but ... no 49-win team that lost in the first round of the playoffs is going to remain the same. At least it should not remain the same.
Last year, guys like Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo said they wanted to come back, and the team said they wanted them back. That worked out.
The Mavs free agents are:
Dirk Nowitzki (turns 36 on June 19)
Shawn Marion (turns 36 on May 7)
Vince Carter (37)
Devin Harris (31)
Dirk returns, the only question is at what number. It's hard to envision Marion returning.
The Mavs would want Carter back, provided it's a one-year deal that is team-friendly.
Carter may drive you nuts with his shot selection, but the guy is a pro who can shoot, and knows how to pass.
Devin Harris demonstrated once again why teams like him, and why he has bounced around between three other teams. He is a nice backup, and can play when he's not hurt. But he has been hurt pretty much since the end of the '06-'07 season.
This means the Mavericks will have approximately $600 million of salary cap space to court free agents who don't want to come here, or will only because there is no place else (see Williams, Deron; Howard, Dwight; Paul, Chris; James, LeBron; etc.)
Who can the Mavs (realistically) add as a free agent to improve a defense that tied for 19th during the regular season in points allowed? The Mavs have to find somebody who can guard the rim, and at least deter some of the dribble penetration from the perimeter that remains such a problem for this team since Tyson Chandler left.
1. The most obvious target will be Cleveland Cavaliers small forward Luol Deng. He is 6-9, long, and can defend. His career averages are 16 points and 5.1 rebounds
2. Do not be surprised if the Mavs target Wizards center Marcin Gortat, again. Gortat, 30, flirted with signing with the Mavs after the 2010-'11 season, but went to the Suns. He has averaged in double digures in each of his last four seasons, and right around seven rebounds.
Not sure he is a great rim protector, but he has a nice offensive game.
The best bet is the Mavs will deal to find a center to either replace, or at least challenge, Dalembert.
And know that not everyone is coming back.
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