If soon-to-be free agent Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks has the Dallas Mavericks planted on his radar screen as a desired destination, the Mavericks should pull out all the stops and try to sign him.
That was the strong message sent from Mavericks superstar forward Dirk Nowitzki on Friday morning at Dr Pepper Ballpark.
About two weeks ago, word came out of Anthony’s camp that the 30-year-old small forward has the Mavericks on a short list of teams — including the Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls — that he would seriously consider when he becomes a free agent July 1. A high-scoring small forward is high on the Mavericks’ off-season wish list.
“Somebody in his camp or he brought up the Mavericks first,” said Nowitzki, who hosts his Heroes Celebrity Baseball Game at 6 p.m. Saturday in Frisco. “It’s not like we brought him up.
“So if we’re actually on his radar, then it’s great. Then we obviously have to look at it.”
This past season, Anthony averaged 27.4 points and a career-high 8.1 rebounds in a career-high 38.7 minutes per game. For his career, the 11-year veteran is averaging 25.3 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest and is one of the more difficult players in the league to guard.
Nowitzki is urging owner Mark Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson to make an attempt to sign Anthony.
“He’s one of the most explosive scorers that we have in this league,” Nowitzki said. “If a player like that has your team on the radar, then Donnie and Mark obviously have to look at it.”
Under the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, once Anthony opts out of his contract, the Knicks can offer him a five-year, $129 million deal. The most he can get from any other franchise is a four-year, $96 million contract. That, in a way, dampens Nowitzki’s enthusiasm.
“Do I think it’s realistic [that Anthony will sign with the Mavericks]?” Nowitzki asked. “No, but you’ve got to definitely explore all your options.
“I learned with Mark and Donnie that anything is possible.”
Nowitzki will also be a free agent July 1. While he’s reluctant to discuss the hometown discount he’ll give the Mavericks so they’ll have more money to pursue other free agents, the 16-year veteran has said he’ll never play for another NBA franchise.
“I think we all know that’s what needs to happen — both parties want the same thing,” Nowitzki said. “We just need to find a middle ground for me to feel respected and for the franchise still to have enough cap room left to do some good things this summer.”
And that includes making a hard run at Anthony.
Nowitzki hopes the Mavericks’ fortunes can change after they swung for the free-agency fences two years ago and missed out on Deron Williams, and swung again last summer when they whiffed on Dwight Howard.
“We’ve pulled deals off over the length of my career that nobody saw coming,” Nowitzki said. “Within a couple of hours, they made something happen.
“I remember, I think we were still at Reunion [Arena], and we pulled off a deal for Juwan Howard and we played the game with like six or seven people.”
Nowitzki was referring to trade deadline day Feb. 22, 2001, when the Mavericks shipped Christian Laettner, Hubert Davis, Loy Vaught, Etan Thomas, Courtney Alexander and $3 million to the Washington Wizards for Calvin Booth, Obinna Ekezie and Juwan Howard.
Thus, Nowitzki is not ruling out anything when it comes to the pursuit of Anthony or any other free agent.
“Anything is possible with [Cuban and Nelson] in the summer, draft day or at the [trade] deadline,” Nowitzki said. “I don’t know what they’re up to for now, I don’t know who we’re looking at for the draft, so I’m clueless for that.
“We’ll just have to wait and see with the next two weeks. It’s going to be busy and exciting and just kind of see-what- happens type of mentality.”