New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony met with the Dallas Mavericks brass Wednesday afternoon in what was the third stop on his free-agency tour.
Owner Mark Cuban, president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, coach Rick Carlisle and superstar forward Dirk Nowitzki headed the Mavericks’ contingent that met with Anthony and his agent, Leon Rose. Anthony and Rose were picked up at Dallas Love Field in a black limousine and driven to Cuban’s North Dallas home for a private meeting that lasted less than three hours.
After his meeting with the Mavericks, Anthony flew to Los Angeles, where he will meet with representatives from the Lakers on Thursday. He also is expected to meet with the Knicks before deciding his basketball future.
Anthony, 30, is the first player the Mavs have brought in for a meeting who didn’t play for Dallas last season. Since it appears that LeBron James is not leaving Miami, Anthony is the Mavericks’ No. 1 off-season free-agent target.
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The Mavericks desperately need a scorer like Anthony, a seven-time All-Star who can take some of the scoring load off Monta Ellis and Nowitzki. Anthony led the NBA in scoring two years ago at 28.7 points a game and was second to Kevin Durant this past season at 27.4 points a game.
If Anthony decides to pass on the Mavericks and sign elsewhere, Dallas will likely turn to Houston’s Chandler Parsons, Cleveland’s Luol Deng or Washington’s Trevor Ariza for help at small forward. The Mavericks also have their eyes on their own free agents — Shawn Marion, Vince Carter, Devin Harris and Nowitzki.
Of course, Nowitzki has already agreed to take a sizable pay cut from the $22.7 million he earned last season. This way the Mavericks will have more cap flexibility to sign players of Anthony’s caliber.
While the Bulls and Rockets made big splashes which included depicting Anthony in one of the team’s jerseys on a huge billboard when he came to their city, the Mavericks basically took the low-key approach. The Mavericks apparently didn’t want the media or fans getting in the way of what they know is the serious recruitment of the most meaningful free agent to visit Dallas.
Behind James, Anthony is the No. 1 free agent available this summer. And he’s searching for a place where he can get his first NBA championship ring.
The Mavericks believe they can fulfill Anthony’s need.
Nowitzki, who turned 36 on June 19, is a 12-time All-Star who defied odds when he was the oldest player in the 2014 All-Star Game.
Last week, the Mavericks filled a void in the middle when they traded for center Tyson Chandler, a beast on defense and a Knicks teammate of Anthony’s the past three seasons.
The Mavericks figure if Anthony was fond of playing with Chandler in New York, he would really enjoy playing alongside him in Dallas, where Chandler was the defensive centerpiece and vocal leader when the Mavericks captured the 2011 NBA title.
Asked last week how he would sell the Mavericks to Anthony, Chandler said he would start by discussing “the coaches and the organization, the winning mentality; coming in day-to-day and understanding exactly what you’re going to get yourself into, what to expect, what to expect in the offense, what to expect in the defense.
“That’s key for a player because that’s how you flourish and, ultimately as a team, that’s how you win. Because you want to know what you can work on, how you can be great at whatever it is that the team needs of you.”
The Mavericks hope that whenever Anthony makes his free-agency decision, he will know that he needs them as much as they need him.