Free agency starts Tuesday and the Dallas Mavericks are poised to be one of this summer’s major players.
The Mavericks have $26.5 million of salary cap space available, which is the fifth-best of the 30 NBA teams.
While owner Mark Cuban is expected to make an attempt to get a major player on his roster before Dirk Nowitzki’s skills start declining, the Mavericks have targeted Carmelo Anthony as their No. 1 free agent hopeful.
Here are the top five free agents — not including their own — who are on the Mavericks’ wish-list for this summer.
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1. Knicks SF Carmelo Anthony: He is exactly what the Mavericks need. Anthony can score with the best of them, is coming off his best rebounding season ever, and should blend in well with Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler. There will be a lot of available open jump shots with Nowitzki and Anthony on the floor. The only question is whether Anthony be OK with taking fewer shots.
2. Cavs SF Luol Deng: A strong defender, Deng is a two-time All-Star and solid all-around player. The 10-year veteran has the potential to match Shawn Marion’s defensive performance over the past five seasons, but is a much better scorer. Deng has career averages of 16 points and 6.3 rebounds. Deng turned down a three-year, $30 million contract extension from Chicago last year, and the Bulls traded him to Cleveland in January.
3. Lakers PF/C Pau Gasol: Although Gasol, 32, has endured foot and knee problems the last two seasons, he’s still viewed as a player who can make some meaningful contributions. Gasol averaged 17.4 ppg and 9.7 rpg in 60 games last season, and only played 49 games two years ago. Oklahoma City, Chicago and Golden State are among the teams pursuing Gasol, who must take a considerable pay cut from the $19.3 million he made last year if he wants to play in Dallas.
4. Wizards SF Trevor Ariza: A quality player who is coming off one of his best seasons. Ariza averaged 14.4 points and a career-high 6.2 rebounds, and shot a career-best 40.7 percent from 3-point range in a career-high 77 games. Ariza was with the Los Angeles Lakers when they won the 2009 NBA title. While he brings solid contributions, he also played for six teams over the past nine seasons and earned $7.7 million last year.
5. Rockets SF Chandler Parsons: The Mavericks would love to get their hands on Parsons because he’ll serve multiple purposes. First, he fits right in to the team’s gaping hole at small forward and is a young talent at age 25. But Parsons is a restricted free agent. However, a team could chase the Rockets out of the running for Carmelo Anthony if it offers Parsons a massive contract, forcing the Rockets to either match it or let him go.