A superstar from contending, Mavs wait

By Jeff Caplan, NBA.com

VIDEO: Dirk Nowitzki will have to be patient with the Mavs’ plans to add help

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — The Dallas Mavericks are waiting on a superstar. They’re not holding their breath. Still, they must sit tight.

When Dirk Nowitzki agreed to a three-year, $30 million contract with Dallas on Thursday it likely signaled the end of the club’s very brief courtship of Carmelo Anthony. Dallas was also among a select few teams to speak with the agent of LeBron James, and no they wait to see if they’ll be summoned to speak with the King himself, perhaps next week.

Still, it’s difficult to see James selecting the Mavs over a return to the Heat or teaming with James Harden and Dwight Howard in Houston, or even with newly minted max point guard Kyrie Irving and No. 1 pick Andrew Wiggins in Cleveland, which possesses the added pull of James’ heartstrings.

The willingness of Anthony and James this week, and Howard a year ago, to visit with the Mavs seems more a hat tip to highly visible and player-friendly owner Mark Cuban than bona fide interest in giving it a go alongside Dirk Nowitzki in his twilight years.

Even so, the fact James’ agent granted face-to-face meetings means you’re in the running, even if you’re a long shot. Cuban certainly believes that where there’s an ear, there’s a way. So you wait, holding off on chasing other big-ticket free agents until James and Anthony make their decisions. Only then can the dominoes begin to fall.

Some might believe a more prudent step for Dallas is to strike now at coveted targets, such as Luol Deng (Cleveland) or Trevor Ariza (Washington) or restricted free agent Chandler Parsons (Houston).

Agreeing to terms with any of those players would financially eliminate Dallas from the superstar sweepstakes, and until James or Anthony officially tells Dallas no, the front office must operate as if yes remains a possibility. Houston, Chicago, Phoenix and the Los Angeles Lakers all must do the same.

Anyways, it’s a virtual guarantee that none of those players, unless offered an unimaginatively lucrative contract, will agree to a deal anywhere until James and Anthony — and possibly even wild card Chris Bosh — set the landscape.

So they wait.

On Saturday, Dallas did move forward with its own free-agent point guard Devin Harris. ESPN.com reported the two sides were closing in on a three-year deal for approximately $9 million. If those terms are accurate, it would be an identical deal to the one Harris signed last summer with Dallas before discovering he needed toe surgery and then agreed to a one-year contract at a reduced rate. This deal would be a bargain for the Mavs considering some the terms reached by guards in the first few days of free agency.

Harris is a key returnee for Dallas, which sent starting point guard Jose Calderon, along with three other players and two second-round draft picks, to New York in exchange for center Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton, who Cuban had to take back in order to get Chandler. Unless the Mavs can move Felton, he is expected to compete for the starting job with Harris.

Three-point specialist and free agent Mo Williams (Portland) is also tied to Dallas. The Mavs want to re-sign Vince Carter, who has suitors, including contending teams, and Shawn Marion, while Dallas would like him back is looking to upgrade the position in its starting lineup.

If the Mavs don’t land LeBron or Melo, it will be an intriguing race to sign the likes of Deng and Chandler (and his future is totally hinged to the Rockets acquiring James, Anthony or Bosh). Deng has interest from Atlanta and was reportedly meeting with Miami on Saturday.

This is the third consecutive summer that Cuban has entered free agency with the cap space to sign a max (or near-max) free agent. With Nowitzi, Monta Ellis and Chandler back, they truly are one superstar away from once again becoming contenders in the brutally competitive Western Conference.

Yet without one, matching last season’s 49 wins, good for the last playoff spot, stands to be a difficult task.

So they wait.


  1. Kirby Record says:

    To all those idiots whining about James’ max contract, two questions: 1) Did Jordan, Magic and Bird or Durant take pay cuts?
    2) Has there ever been the top ranking player in the league–or even a top five–who NEVER was the top paid player on his own team so many years into his career, as James has been? Think before you post `”#$%

    • oasis511 says:

      Actually, when Jordan came out of retirement, he made a whopping $3.85 million for his first full season, and when the Bulls played Seattle in the finals, Jordan was getting paid less than Detlef Schremp and Sam Perkins. He won three straight titles in the early 90’s and didn’t make more than $4 million a year despite being the biggest name in basketball. He finally got paid his last two years in Chicago, but it’s kind of hard to blame him at that point. And when he came back and played for Washington, he played for $1 million a year.

      For Jordan’s entire career, he made $90 million. Lebron is only 30 and has already made $129 million. You can’t even begin to make a comparison.

      • Carlo says:

        Ehm… In case you didn’t notice, there’s a 20-year gap between MJ and LBJ salaries.

      • Basketball Fan says:

        Yeah, Lebron! don’t take any pay-cut. You’re the only player who actually did something useful against the spurs last finals. You should “reap what you sow”.

      • #dwade#flash says:

        how much was 4 million back then? ummmm so ima pay you a quarter! coz 50 years ago, quarter has value.

  2. lenny says:

    A superstar isn’t what the Mavs need, it’s good players and youth.

  3. Xer Charles says:

    Better getting Deng or Chandler, but I believe Deng would be a better fit for Dallas because of his defense.

  4. Jc says:

    Mavs don’t need a superstar to contend in the west, they are good to go if Vince n matrix resign

  5. Kirby Record says:

    They contended last year, coming close to knocking off the almighty Spurs. They don’t need a superstar just a good fit player to help inside.

  6. johnnyhoops1980 says:

    They should really, really start concentrating on Plans B-Z because LeBron is not going to Dallas, sorry. In fact, he’s not going anywhere except back to Miami – the opt out was just a restructuring thing to see if they could bring in some help like Lowry, Deng, maybe Jameer Nelson. Sorry, no LeBron in a Mavs uni: http://straighthoops.com/sorry_youre_not_getting_lebron.html

  7. harrythehawk says:

    The Dallas Mavericks try really hard to get star players. I don’t know why they can’t attract. They have an excellent coach and Dirk is so selfless. Maybe this year they will go further in the playoffs.

    • Carlo says:

      Maybe ’cause they’re run by Cuban firsthand.
      A team shouldn’t be directly managed by the owner, who’s a man from a different trade (apart from MJ, and that’s not a guarantee of success), focused on other businesses.

      • NCastles says:

        Donnie Nelson runs the team and personnel Cuban fronts money and gives sales pitches

      • Carlo says:

        @ NCastles: Really? Didn’t occur to me. Maybe because every time the Mavs speak about buying or hiring it’s out of Cuban’s – not Nelson’s – mouth. Not what it happens in other franchises (expecially Spurs).

  8. Bill says:

    Poor Lebron , he is having a hard time getting what he wants. Quite frankly I hope nobody signs that money hungary, overrated and suerly egotisticle guy. he wants a max contract, what are the other players on that team going to get?? He wants help but he has to have a max contract, every body should take a pay cut except him , what does that tell you about his character or lack of.

  9. Hunter says:

    Mavs don’t need Carmelo nor James. Resign Carter, Harris, Matrix, Blair. Dump Felton and get another cheap decent wing defender and or get a good backup pg, or just keep Felton. That team would be enough to title contend.


  10. ThatOneGuy says:

    It’s no surprise the Mavs are still under the radar they always are and maybe always will be and they will still prove doubters wrong


  11. bootlegregg says:

    everyone always tries to upgrade…they have to figure out ways on how to beat the SAN ANTONIO SPURS

  12. A.J. says:

    Pretty stupid sportswriting. 80% of the NBA is “a superstar from contending.”