It’s June now, and all but two NBA teams are already weighing their options in free agency. The Mavericks had a solid season — the team overachieved and has plenty to be proud of, but more than that, plenty to build on. There are certainly some in-house contract negotiations to complete on the front end, but the Mavericks’ decision-makers have made it no secret that the plan is to maintain continuity. That appears to be the right call. If possible, their best bet is to save as much money as possible when negotiating new contracts with the team’s core pieces — Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Vince Carter, Devin Harris — and Dejuan Blair, who probably wouldn’t be widely considered a part of the core, but brings plenty of the characteristics most championship teams need.
On to the point, it seems clear that the biggest target this summer is Carmelo Anthony. Like many other players, including some marquee names, he will have to invoke the early termination option in his contract in order to become available, but, unlike most of those other names, he has expressed active interest in doing so.
Anthony has his pros and cons, as any player does. He has established a reputation as a “me first” guy on the offensive end of the floor and he isn’t known for consistent effort on defense, both despite the fact that he claims to want a championship more than anything else. Those are two of the most unappealing traits a player can have in the NBA, but a few players can overcome them and still warrant widespread consideration throughout the league. In Anthony’s case, not only does he warrant consideration, he’s an established superstar — one of the biggest names in the league.
There are few men who have ever been able to score the basketball as proficiently as Anthony. He can stretch the floor, he can post up, he can create his own scoring opportunities, and he can finish with aggression or finesse. When it comes to scoring, the list of players in Anthony’s class is a short one.
So, does he fit with the Mavericks? Well, while he does bring all of the skills mentioned above, the argument can certainly be made that he does not fit in Dallas. The Mavericks did not struggle offensively this season. Some believe Dallas was the best offensive squad in the association. Meanwhile, it’s common knowledge that the Mavericks were in the bottom half of the league on the defensive end of the floor; they had the worst defensive rating of all 16 teams to make the playoffs. With that being the case, how much do they stand to gain from adding a player like Anthony? Not much, as far as I can see. It appears that the Mavericks would better serve themselves by seeking out a different type of player — a small forward won’t hurt, but he should bring something to the table on the defensive side of the basketball.
Two things could change this way of thinking. The first will come if the Mavericks end up losing a couple of their own key pieces to free agency, specifically Marion and Carter. If that happens, Anthony will be a much more attractive option and worth a max contract from the Mavericks, if they have the funds available.
The other factor that could change the Mavericks’ stance on Anthony would be the inevitable passing of the torch. Soon, Nowitzki will succumb to his long battle with Father Time. Are the Mavericks concerned enough with that to go after a franchise type player immediately, even though that player may not put them over the top right now? That’s a question that needs addressing.
Ultimately, Anthony does not appear to be an ideal fit for the Mavericks at this time, but Dallas probably has no choice but to go after him anyway.
Brian Ogle is a Dallas Mavericks writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @TheOgle.