DALLAS – The Dallas Mavericks have emerged as the team to sign Amar’e Stoudemire if he’s agrees to a buyout from the New York Knicks and becomes a free agent, a source said.
But Donnie Nelson, the Mavs’ president of basketball operations, couldn’t delve into the team’s interest in Stoudemire, because of rules pertaining to the collective bargaining agreement. However, it’s no secret that center Tyson Chandler needs helps on the Mavs’ front line as he continuously battles some of the NBA’s top big men.
"I really can’t comment on another person’s player at this point, but there’s a lot of things that have to happen in order for that to come to fruition,’’ Nelson said after Saturday morning’s shootaround at American Airlines Center. "But there’s no question that we’re looking for someone that is a veteran and knows how to win playoff games and can give us a little meat in our front line, a little beef to throw around, set picks and rebounds.
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"And so we’re looking, really, at all the different candidates for that.’’
Another candidate the Mavs are looking at to help shore up their front line is free agent Jermaine O’Neal, who lives in Southlake. O’Neal has a solid relationship with Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, who coached him from 2003-’07 while the two were with the Indiana Pacers.
But if anything happens with the Mavs signing O’Neal, it likely wouldn’t happen until after the Feb. 15 All-Star game.
"He would pretty much fit the description, and obviously we’ve got a great relationship there and vice versa,’’ Nelson said of the 36-year old O’Neal. "But it’s got to be right.
"It’s got to be right for him, it’s got to be right for us. We’re in the process of turning over a lot of different stones at this point.’’
O’Neal averaged 7.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 20.1 minutes while shooting 50.4 percent from the field in 44 games last season for the Golden State Warriors. But the six-time All-Star is apparently in no rush to get back on the hardwood.
"He’s a professional and he certainly doesn’t, quote unquote, need this opportunity or others,’’ Nelson said. "There’s family issues, there’s all kinds of different things.
"He’s a smart guy, he’s done very well with his money and family time is important.’’
Nelson said the Mavs are also looking at players who are completing their season over in China. Meanwhile, Chandler welcomes the possible addition of Stoudemire.
"I’m not going to dig into it until it’s a real possibility,’’ Chandler said. "But Amar’e is a great player, a great finisher.
"He provides leadership for a team, he’s incredible in the pick-and-roll, (has a) nice mid-range game and great knack for scoring.’’
Chandler and Stoudemire were teammates with the Knicks the past three seasons. So he wouldn’t mind a reunion with the 6-10, 245-pound 32-year old six-time All-Star who can fill in for both Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler.
"He would fit in great, because we play a lot of pick-and-roll,’’ Chandler said. "Coach does an excellent job of understanding scorers and how to get them the ball and put them in position to succeed.
"Not only that, we’ve got the best training staff in the league, so that also helps.’’
Guard Raymond Felton also is on board with the Mavs in their pursuit of Stoudemire. Felton and Stoudemire were teammates with the Knicks the past two seasons.
"I love him, he's a good friend, so if he gets the opportunity to come play here he'll definitely help us for sure,’’ Felton said. "Of course, what I've seen over the last two years he's been pretty healthy in limited minutes, but at his point of his career a lot of guys are limited with those minutes.
"And at the same time he's not going to have to play a lot of minutes if he comes here, but if he plays it'll definitely be big for us. He's a great talent, big guy that can really post up.’’
That’s exactly what the Mavs need – a dominant inside presence when Chandler goes to the bench for a breather.
"He can shoot, rebound it, pretty much do anything – his stats speak for itself,’’ Felton said of Stoudemire. "I think he'll help us a lot for sure.
"He's a great guy, he's one of a kind, he is who he is. Great teammate, great guy in the locker room, so for him to be here it would be positive for sure. I hope it happens."