Once the free-agent clock starts late Thursday night, the Dallas Mavericks might be ringing the doorbell at Hassan Whiteside’s home.
That means when the NBA free agency period begins at 11:01 p.m. CDT on June 30 , the Mavericks will begin courting Whiteside, a 7-foot center who has spent the past two seasons with the Miami Heat.
Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley is the other prize free agent at the top of the Mavericks’ wish list.
Whiteside led the league in blocks (3.7) this past season, and also averaged 14.2 points and 11.8 rebounds. He is a ferocious rim-protector, rebounder and defender, and has the potential to become the best center in Mavericks history.
At 27, Whiteside is set to secure a maxed-out four-year contract worth approximately $94.1 million.
As long as he’s not a knucklehead. Let’s just say we’ll do our homework on all the players that are out there.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, on signing a free agent who has off-court issues
The big question is, it’s difficult to know if he has put aside some of his immature behavior that have plagued him and led to suspensions, and led to some NBA front-office personnel questioning his commitment to the game.
While not talking specifically about Whiteside, owner Mark Cuban said the Mavericks would take a chance on a player who has extreme talent but also has some off-the-court issues “only if he’s young’’ and can help his team climb back into championship contention.
“As long as he’s not a knucklehead,” Cuban said. “Let’s just say we’ll do our homework on all the players that are out there.
“And if it’s a chance — it’s not our approach — but if we can deal with it and take it under control, yeah, we’ll look to make the move.”
Meanwhile, Conley is one of the game’s premier playmakers who averaged 15.3 points and 6.1 assists per game last season. The Grizzlies can offer Conley a five-year, $153 million contract, while the Mavericks and other teams can only offer him a four-year, $114 million deal.
A look at the free agents on the Mavericks’ wish list:
Ryan Anderson, forward, Pelicans: Anderson finished sixth in voting for the Sixth Man Award this season, and probably would be an All-Star if he played all 82 games against the Mavericks. He has Stephen Curry-like 3-point range.
Nicolas Batum, forward, Hornets: Batum is a solid all-around player who averaged 14.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists this season. All he does is fill up the stat sheet.
Kent Bazemore, forward, Hawks: Bazemore is in constant motion, creating havoc on the floor. This season he averaged 11.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.3 steals.
Mike Conley, guard, Grizzlies: For some odd reason, Conley has never received the respect for having a high basketball IQ and being one of the top point guards in the NBA over the past six seasons.
Evan Fournier, forward, Magic: Since Fournier is a restricted free agent who plays the same position as Chandler Parsons, he and Parsons could indeed be trading places. It’s an intriguing thought.
Pau Gasol, center, Bulls: Gasol never seems to age, his skills never seem to diminish. He averaged 16.5 points and 11 rebounds this season and was seventh in the NBA in double-doubles with 46.
Dwight Howard, center, Rockets: A center who can score, rebound, block shots and play defense is all that’s missing from the Mavericks being a legitimate title contender.
Hassan Whiteside, center, Heat: Talk about a windshield wiper who blocks everything in his path — that’s Whiteside. He scores, rebounds, blocks shots and is a threat to get a triple-double.