Probably not in their wildest nightmare could the Dallas Mavericks have imagined what transpired in what will likely go down as the team’s Black Friday.
In one of the darkest days in franchise history, the Mavericks struck out in every free-agent corner imaginable.
It began with the early news that coveted Miami center Hassan Whiteside, who has averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks over his 140-game career, would stay in South Beach and accept the Heat’s four-year, $98 million contract.
Then small forward Chandler Parsons, the Mavs’ prized free-agent addition two summers ago, found a max deal with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Strike three was when point guard Mike Conley netted the richest contract in NBA history, a five-year, $153 million bonanza to stay in Memphis, where he’s played his first nine seasons.
Throughout the day potential Mavericks targets were picked off the free-agency vine by other hungry clubs.
Shortly after the Whiteside gut punch, Nicolas Batum, whom the Mavericks had hoped could replace Parsons, agreed to a five-year, $120 million contract to remain with the Charlotte Hornets. Then Evan Fournier, also a small forward, decided to stay in Orlando with a five-year, $85 million contract.
Yet another Mavs’ hopeful disappeared when center Al Jefferson left the Hornets for a three-year, $30 million deal with the Indiana Pacers.
Even Dwight Howard isn’t in play after taking a three-year, $70.5 million deal from Atlanta, where he was born and graduated from high school to the pros.
I’ve played on eight teams since college — from Reno to Sioux Falls to Sichuan, China. I am not ready for there to be a ninth. I have decided to re-sign with Miami.
Hassan Whiteside, on The Players’ Tribune website
Even Parsons got what he said he was going to get. After turning down a max offer from the Portland Trail Blazers earlier Friday, Parsons accepted one of four years and $94.8 million from the Grizzlies. That puts him against the Mavericks four times a season — assuming he remains healthy, which he wasn’t either season in Dallas.
Friday’s whirlwind leaves the Mavericks scrambling again, hoping players such as Al Horford, Ryan Anderson or Bismack Biyombo will take Mark Cuban’s money. Or that Zaza Pachulia, Deron Williams and Raymond Felton will return for another season.
There’s no doubt that missing out on Whiteside was the Mavericks’ biggest disappointment of the day.
Whiteside went on social media site SnapChat to announce he was staying in Florida. He later wrote on The Players’ Tribune website: “I’ve played for eight teams since college — from Reno to Sioux Falls to Sichuan, China. I am not ready for there to be a ninth.
“I have decided to re-sign with Miami. I just wanted to take this time to tell all the fans how much you mean to this team, and to me. Can’t wait to get back to work and try to bring another championship to Miami.”
The Mavericks need to get back to work, too. They still need some talent, hoping to align it with 38-year-old Dirk Nowitzki, who is a free agent and still has options himself.
One day into free agency and the Mavs are in a familiar, uncomfortable position.
Last year, the Mavericks had an oral agreement with center DeAndre Jordan, but he changed his mind and remained with the Los Angeles Clippers.
That incident spurred the NBA into shortening its moratorium period, which this year ends on July 7.
At least last year Mavericks fans had a week of unbridled enthusiasm and excitement thinking about Jordan’s future with the team, though it was short lived. This time summer vacation was over after one day.
Dwain Price: 817-390-7760, @dwainprice