Free agency is upon us again and, brace yourself this time because this will be the summer the Dallas Mavericks finally make a big splash.
No, free agents LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh aren’t leaving their plush digs and safety nets in Miami to sign with the Mavericks. That trio will stay with the Heat, where getting to the NBA Finals as is easy as getting to the NIT Final Four.
With Wednesday’s acquisition of Tyson Chandler from the New York Knicks, the Mavericks drastically improved their position as one of the league’s top free agency destinations.
It didn’t hurt that the Mavericks posted a 3-4 record against the eventual NBA champions from San Antonio in the first round of the playoffs, while the Spurs’ other three playoff opponents — Portland, Oklahoma City and Miami — combined for just a 4-12 record against San Antonio.
Precious subtle things such as that are what free agents are considering when they’re making decisions about their future.
Carmelo Anthony, Luol Deng, Kyle Lowry, Trevor Ariza, Pau Gasol, Chandler Parsons and Gordon Hayward are the top free agents the Mavericks are pursuing.
Anthony’s agent needs to tell him that if you put Melo on a frontline that includes Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler, they will be the NBA’s best frontline.
Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said Chandler’s acquisition has heightened Dallas’ stature in free agency.
“My feeling is that if I’m a prospective free agent out there we became a lot more attractive,” Nelson said. “I don’t know many frontlines that not only have that kind of punch in terms of inside-outside, but also two great guys, great teammates, guys that you love to go to war with, night-in and night-out.
“That, with the fact that we can accommodate a max salary this year and next makes our future bright in the here and now. It also makes it bright in the future, next year. I think the future is bright here in Dallas.”
Anthony will visit Chicago on Tuesday, Houston and Dallas on Wednesday, and the Los Angeles Lakers next week.
Bulls star Derrick Rose is coming off major surgery and said he won’t be part of the team’s delegation to woo Anthony. Lakers star Kobe Bryant is recovering from major surgery, and the team is undergoing a major overhaul after not qualifying for the playoffs.
The re-tooling Knicks are still in the picture, mainly because they can offer Anthony the most money at $129 million over five years, while other teams are maxed out at $96 million over four years.
For my money, Anthony is destined to sign with the Mavericks or Rockets. For him, then it becomes a matter of who he trusts the most — the coaching skins of Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle or Rockets coach Kevin McHale.
Let the jury show that scale is tilted in Carlisle’s favor.
Houston has some heavy lifters in Dwight Howard, James Harden and Parsons, a restricted free agent who the Rockets could lose if someone throws some major bucks his way. But despite having home court advantage, that trio couldn’t even get out of the first round of the playoffs this past season.
In addition to Nowitzki and Chandler, the Mavericks have a very underrated guard in Monta Ellis. And they’re poised to re-sign one of the own free agents, guard Devin Harris.
The other Mavericks free agents are Shawn Marion, Vince Carter, DeJuan Blair, Bernard James and Nowitzki.
Nowitzki has already agreed to give a hometown discount to owner Mark Cuban so he can have more financial flexibility to attract a high-caliber free agent.
Chandler and Nowitzki will be in Anthony’s ears during free agency. My amateur advice — bring out the bling-bling that came when the Mavericks beat Miami’s Big 3 for the 2011 NBA title.
“I know that I was once there and it comes down to your family and what’s best for you career-wise,” Chandler said of free agency. “But I’ll tell you one thing — Dallas isn’t a bad place to be.
“It’s a great opportunity and clearly we’ve done it in the past. It’s not a hard place to sell. I’m going to do whatever it takes.”
This time, brace yourself. That big free agency splash for the Mavericks is about to arrive.