The summer’s not halfway over, but the Dallas Mavericks are in a celebratory mood because of the numerous upgrades they’ve made to their roster.
First, the Mavs made a significant improvement at center when they re-acquired fan-favorite Tyson Chandler via a trade with the New York Knicks. Then, they outfoxed the rival Houston Rockets and secured versatile small forward Chandler Parsons.
The Mavs also got two of their own free agents — Dirk Nowitzki and Devin Harris — to take considerably less money than what they could have received on the open market.
The summer acquisitions likely led to some high-fives being exchanged around Victory Park. Still, Donnie Nelson threw out a warning sign to competing teams Monday as the Mavs crawled ever so gently back into championship contention.
“We’re not done,” said Nelson, who is the Mavericks president of basketball operations. “But we feel pretty good about where things are right now.”
Financially, the Mavs have commitments to 12 players for next season. The NBA allows teams to carry 15 players on their final roster, but the Mavs may not reach that limit any time soon.
“We may end up keeping a slot open because you just never know what happens down the line,” Nelson said. “We’ve got another frontline guy we want.
“We’re always looking for help in the backcourt, with an eye on 3-point shooting, and then kind of a rangy defender would be nice as well. We’re still in search of those, but those spots don’t necessarily need to be filled through free agency. Obviously, there are trades and all kinds of other ways you can do that.”
Mo Williams is likely to land in Dallas as a backup point guard. The Mavs are also looking at Carlos Boozer, Mo Williams, Lance Stephenson, Mike Miller, Al-Farouq Aminu and possibly re-signing Shawn Marion.
Nelson noted that the Mavs could retain center Bernard James, who is on the team’s summer league roster.
“We’d love to be able to have Sarge back because of his shot blocking,” Nelson said. “You can never have enough of that, and the integrity and just the kind of person he is.”
In addition, the Mavs are intrigued with 30-year-old Ivan Johnson, a 6-foot-8, 255-pounder who was with the Atlanta Hawks from 2011 to 2013. They view Johnson in the role of free-agent DeJuan Blair, who played last year with the Mavs and is closing in on a roster spot with the Washington Wizards.
“Ivan’s one of those kinds of tough guys that can play a couple of positions,” Nelson said. “He’s kind of in a Blair mode — kind of a [power forward] who can slide over to play some [center].
“He’s really a tough-nosed, knock-you-down defender and rebounder. But also we think he can show some promise being able to hit an outside shot, and he’s young and developing, so we’re keeping a close eye on him.”
The Mavs were hoping to re-sign 37-year-old Vince Carter. But he eventually signed with the Memphis Grizzlies for three years and $12.2 million.
Nevertheless, the Mavs moved quickly and signed 34-year-old Richard Jefferson to replace Carter. And the Mavs acknowledged that Jefferson’s numbers last year were similar to Carter’s.
Carter averaged 11.9 points and 3.5 rebounds in 24.4 minutes per game, shooting 40.7 percent from the field and 39.4 percent from 3-point range.
Jefferson averaged 10.1 points and 2.7 rebounds in 27 minutes per contest, shooting 45 percent from the floor and 40.9 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
What took this summer over the top for the Mavs, though, was the acquisition of Parsons. The Mavs signed the highly sought-after 6-foot-9, 227-pound restricted free agent to a three-year, $46 million offer sheet Thursday, and then waited three days before Houston decided to not match the offer.
Part of the reason Houston didn’t match the offer is because Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said the contract was structured to the point where it made it difficult to trade Parsons. Nelson, though, said the Mavs went all-in so they can retain Parsons for a long time, not so they can trade him.
“We really needed him,” Nelson said. “We played the [restricted free agent] card, and then you’ve got to sweat it for three days.
“But we’re happy campers.”
Happy for a lot of reasons beyond just the acquisition of Parsons.