In free-agency, you never know for sure where you stand until you get an agreement in principle and, eventually, signatures on the dotted line.
But indications are that the Mavericks have bolted to the lead in the Marcin Gortat derby, if there ever was such a thing.
Gortat is the 6-11, unrestricted free-agent center who played for Orlando the last two seasons. He averaged 3.3 points and 3.2 rebounds in the playoffs while playing behind Dwight Howard.
But in the one game he started against Philadelphia when Howard was suspended, Gortat had 11 points and 15 rebounds in 40 minutes.
The native of Poland has become one of the hottest free agents in the league with Houston and San Antonio also hot for him.
The Mavericks aren't saying anything about whether they are on the brink of an agreement with Gortat. He likely would cost the entire mid-level exception (about $5.5 million for the first year). If that were stretched out five years, the deal would be worth more than $30 million.
Sounds like a lot, until you realize Gortat is only 24 and that the total money would be less than half of what they paid Erick Dampier, who is in the last year of his deal.
The interesting aspect, if the Mavericks do corral Gortat, is that it would mean they could trade Dampier as part of a package, perhaps with Jerry Stackhouse, and they still would have the center position accounted for.