With roughly 60 million dollars in cap space, entering free agency, the Dallas Mavericks can make a number of moves this off-season. While the priority is likely holding on to Dirk and Chandler Parsons, they also have to replace or re-sign their starting point guard and center. Unfortunately, the “summer of Durant” lacks the depth of most free agent classes.
The only returning starter, currently under contract, is Wesley Matthews. Unluckily for the Mavs, Matthews just finished the worst season of his career after returning from a torn-left Achilles tendon. While there is hope that another year removed from that injury will have Matthews at 100 percent, he turns 30 this year so he may never be the player he was in Portland. With that decline and the fact the Mavericks still owe him a little more than 50 million dollars, Matthews is the one player from last year that is definitely not going anywhere.
The first decision the Mavericks have to make is what kind of team they want to build. They can target young players and begin building a new core for the future, or they can chase star players to surround Dirk and try and make one last run with the aging star.
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Mark Cuban has never been one for patience, so in all likelihood the Mavs will be targeting the best players, regardless of age. They will surely be making calls to all the big name free agents they can place around Matthews and Nowitzki.
That list, unfortunately, is pretty slim. Outside of the slim hopes they can snag Kevin Durant or LeBron James, this free agent class is pretty shallow. Their best options are Mike Conley, Nicolas Batum, Al Horford and Dwight Howard. All four are quality players at their respective positions that could give solid value on a four year, maximum salary contract.
Realistically, Cuban can afford to re-sign Chandler Parsons and add one of these players, on top of re-signing Dirk. The question is whether or not those players have interest in the Mavs.
The best fit is probably Dwight Howard. When healthy, Howard is still one of the best defensive centers in the game. He has, quietly, been one of the best defensive centers this century. Even an aging Howard with a limited offensive skill set makes your team a lot better, but his health has long been a concern.
Horford and Conley would also be huge upgrades compared to the 2015 Mavs starters, but they will both be heavily sought after this summer. Batum is a similar player to Parsons, so the Mavs may choose to target whichever has a lower price tag, although cap space should not be an issue.
At the end of the day, the Mavs should ideally add Dwight Howard or Mike Conley, re-sign Dirk and Chandler Parsons, and sign another mid-level player with the remaining cap space. It will not be easy, but for one of the most passionate owners in sports, Dallas should be able to capitalize on their ridiculous amount of cap space and be a significantly better team next season.