Gil LeBreton

July 5, 2014

Mavericks have no choice but to wait on stars

Whenever LeBron calls (or doesn’t), it’s on to Plan B.

If the prettiest girl in town told you that she might, maybe, could conceivably go to the school prom with you, wouldn’t you wait to hear from her before asking someone else?

There lies the dilemma for the Dallas Mavericks, one of the NBA suitors who got a wink — just a wink — from the agent for LeBron James.

From Carmelo Anthony the Mavericks received even more — second base! Anthony flew into town for dinner and a meeting at the Mark Cuban mansion, the Chez Cubes.

But there the Mavericks sit. All dressed up, and so far nowhere to go.

Maybe Melo wasn’t just playing the free-agent game, touring the league’s wealthier franchises, or maybe LeBron’s agent, Rich Paul, will call back later this week to set up an audience with The King. Reports suggest no on both.

You have to wait, though, don’t you? What if LeBron’s wife and family are as weary of the south Florida scene as some suggest they are? What if agent Paul actually sits down, does the math and realizes that a Big Four doesn’t add up?

Operators, therefore, are standing by. Call Cuban in the middle of a Shark Tank episode, if you must.

Cuban and the Mavericks have no choice. They are among a select group of NBA teams — and NBA players — who are waiting for LeBron and Melo to make up their minds.

To me, the Anthony thing has always seemed to be a long shot. He wants max money, and his best place to get that remains the New York Knicks, who can offer a five-year, $129 million deal.

The Mavericks, meanwhile, can offer him Dirk, Melo’s recent teammate Tyson Chandler ... and, well, Dirk.

His scoring input would be incalculable to Rick Carlisle’s team. The guy did score 62 points one night last season.

But he shoots a lot. Monta Ellis probably would have to arm-wrestle him for the ball. And Anthony plays little or no defense. Carlisle’s patience on that end would be tested.

When it was announced last week, however, that Dirk Nowitzki had signed a respectful three-year, $30 million extension, that seemed to probably spell the end of the Mavericks’ serious chances to land Carmelo.

For James, on the other hand, they would move the world. Or, at least, move Shawn Marion, Vince Carter, Raymond Felton and any combination of non-Dirks to make salary cap room for him.

Though speculation persists that LeBron will re-sign with the Heat, no one really knows at this point. Even teammate Chris Bosh is on hold.

So powerful is King James, he convinced Bosh to opt out of his remaining $42.6 million contract. Bosh, it is said, wants max money, too.

The Dallas native could be a championship piece for somebody, but the highest paid player on a title team? Uh, no.

Better to let Bosh sign with Houston, and then the Mavericks can go after the Rockets’ Chandler Parsons, Cleveland’s Luol Deng or Washington’s Trevor Ariza, in more or less that specific order. Deng would certainly be an interesting addition.

It’s been easy to take potshots at Cuban over his rebuilding plan, which included clearing salary cap space for (pick one) Deron Williams, Dwight Howard or Chris Paul. But there are no prizes — or players — for finishing second in a free-agent chase.

So they wait, because it’s LeBron James, king of all basketball. But Cuban probably already has the check filled out, just in case, for Plan B, whoever it is.

The Mavericks won 49 games last season and pushed the champion Spurs to seven games. Who’s to say that with Dirk, Chandler, Ellis, Deng and Rick Carlisle they can’t win even more?

The prom awaits.

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