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Will The Mavericks Overreach?

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LeBron James has narrowed his list of possible destinations to six and, if we are to believe the mysterious unnamed NBA executive, already knows he's going with Chris Bosh to Chicago. Despite this, Dallas is apparently going to saddle up and attempt give Bron Bron their sales pitch

Chicago probably needs to move Luol Deng either to clear salary or as part of a sign-and-trade to bring in the two stars. As Maurice discussed yesterday, the Bulls are reportedly willing to send Deng to Dallas in exchange for Erick Dampier's magical contract.

The Mavs have been mulling the hierarchy of their Summer 2010 desires for years now, and any team with money, a big market, another star player, and a few other assets had to ponder their attractiveness to James. But with free agency officially opening Thursday, we are finally down to the nitty-gritty of this long anticipated off-season. Timing matters, as does the perception teams create of their first, second and third choices.

Dallas is not going to acquire LeBron James, but surely they are smart enough to maintain their real world plan while pursuing that fantasy. My greater concern is whether they have the market for their Dampier asset gauged correctly. Can they really do better than Deng? Did they only say no to that deal because he does nothing to help them sort out their positional issues, or are they convinced that there is still a better player available for a bunch of immediate cap space? 

I want to believe, but what evidence is there that Donnie and Cuban have full mastery of a complex recruiting and trading scenario? Dallas has essentially never convinced a prominent free agent to come to their team, and deals sending away Devin Harris and Josh Howard for Jason Kidd, Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood may net them slightly better records in 2009 and 2010 but little to show past that. Their free agent contracts in recent years - Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion and DeSagana Diop - have ranged from wastes of money to necessary overpayments.

I hope that they are in full control of the situation, that they know exactly what they can get and when to get it, and that they are half the attractive destination that they think they are. Please let there be more than Luol Deng out there.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.