With a new CBA close to being ratified and free agency expected to begin on Dec. 9, the defending champion Dallas Mavericks will have to make a lot of tough roster decisions quickly.
Despite already having over $63 million in payroll committed for the 2011-2012 season, the Mavericks have six free agents from last year's championship team.
While the team was worried about a possible hard cap that would make it impossible for high-spending franchises to retain talent, the new CBA is expected to contain the same basic luxury tax system that allowed owner Marc Cuban to outspend most of the NBA over the last decade.
Significant penalties for repeated luxury tax violators don't kick in until 2013, which gives Dallas two more years to spend relatively freely, but it will make them leery of too many long-term contracts for their batch of free agents.
Headlining the list is Tyson Chandler, the second-team All-Defense center, whose ability to play dominating front-court defense was the key for the Mavericks to finally win a title in their 11th season as a 50-win team. Despite a history of injuries, his ability to play championship-caliber defense at the rim means he will probably receive a near-maximum salary.
J.J. Barea, whose ability to drive the ball made Rick Carlisle insert him into the starting lineup in the NBA Finals, is expected to draw a lot of interest from teams, despite his short stature.
Dallas will also have to make two tough decisions on veteran role players Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson, who provided three-point shooting and perimeter defense but may want too much money now that they have a ring.
Brian Cardinal and Peja Stojakovic are also free agents, but neither player is expected to draw much interest on the free agent market.
For the latest news and notes on the Mavericks off-season, check out Mavs Moneyball.