There aren't a whole lot of teams out there who will have lost as many free agents in two years as the Mavericks are going to between this year and the last.
However, unlike last year when the cap needed to be cleared at all costs, Dallas knows exactly how much they need to clear and they'll know more in just over a week. They need a Deron-sized hole and, if they're unlucky, they may need less.
So it's not impossible, this time, that the Mavericks will keep a couple of players-it just depends on the market for them around the NBA. Their will be four players Dallas needs to make a decision on: Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, Delonte West and Ian Mahinmi.
Let's go through them in order, shall we?
Jason Terry: Terry will probably not be a Maverick this next year. It's not, however, an impossibility. It's really not clear what the market for someone like Terry would be these days-except that it's not going to be what Terry thinks it will be.
That's not a slight on Terry, by the way. The only reason that the JET is who he is, and has been what he has been to the Mavericks, is because of his incredible belief in himself. Like he told the TNT guys, he believes he can play 6-7 more years, 4-5 at a high level. I wouldn't bet against the JET, but I also wouldn't bet against father time.
With the way all the league chatter is tending, about cap space and about contending for the championship or dipping into the lottery, it's really hard to place his price point. There probably never were days in which Jason Terry would put you over the top, but they're definitely long gone now. But he can still average around 15 points if he gets enough shots, and I believe some team will offer him their mid-level exception.
That's less than he's hoping for, it may be more than he gets, and it may not be prohibitive for the Mavericks to consider. Still, on balance I'd rate the likelihood that JET has played his last game as a Maverick pretty high.
Jason Kidd: It's been strange hearing Kidd talk so much in free agency, and smart guy that he is, I'm inclined to think it's strategic. It's been widely supposed that if the Mavericks offered him a 1-year deal, he'd take it, and it's possible, then, to read his talk of backing up Deron Williams as a way of signaling to the world that there's no need to worry about his willingness to play a back-up role. However, it's 100% certain that the Mavericks already know that, so I think he may be saying something else.
Wouldn't Kidd saying his days of being a starter are over actually unnecessarily handicap the Mavericks if they fail to land Deron Williams? Is it possible that Kidd's actually saying he plans to go somewhere where he can be a backup? Doesn't it get stickier, than, if he's asked to back up, say, Goran Dragic or Kyle Lowry instead of the three names he's mentioned, Deron, Nash and Lin?
In other words, Kidd coming back may not be as likely as you think it is, if he'll be asked to carry the whole offensive load. Not that the competitor in him will shirk from the challenge, but it's clear that he knows exactly the kind of situation he likes, and it's also clear that he has just a few teams on his list-three of which he's played with before, one of which is right next door.
If there is interest from Dallas, it's relatively likely he'll be back. At the same time, we shouldn't underrate his desire to be a back up and a mentor.
Delonte West: If I'm the Mavericks, this is the guy I really want to keep. First, having never made 5 million dollars a year in his career, and having suffered through an injury plagued season, he's likely to be cheaper than Terry, though he probably doesn't see it that way right now. Second, he's likely to be grateful to the Mavericks for giving him a chance and showing the world he's a good guy who needs a little help, and the respect there is likely mutual.
He's young, he's a good defender, and if he breaks the offense occasionally to score points, he's both capable of running it and one of the only players Dallas had last year capable of finishing at the rim.
That being said, I haven't been able to find chatter about West anywhere. A lot of this will probably depend on the draft. If, after the draft, the Mavericks are still in the hunt for an SG who can slide over to PG, West would be a pretty logical choice. But there has not yet been any indication as to where each party stands with regard to the other.
Ian Mahinmi: Of all the players on this list, Ian is the most likely to be back next year. That's not terrific-although Mahinmi was the center who best blended the talents of the other two, he was far from lighting the world on fire and frequently benefited, in estimations of him, from the fact that he was often the only option.
Everybody is guilty of talking up guys on their own team that other teams have never heard of, then completely forgetting about them/realizing their true (lack of) value when they're gone-remember Antoine Wright? Mahinmi isn't a great defender, is a poor rebounder and continues to make extremely poor decisions defensively. He's a risk to set a record for least time taken to foul out in any game that he's in.
However. Especially if the Mavericks are going to amnesty Haywood, Mahinmi is a must have, and likely, even if they don't. The Mavericks turned down the opportunity to be set at center, last year, and now they have three guys who they were unable to play, for the most part, in the playoffs. Brandan Wright, who rumors say has had his option picked up, is obviously the most exciting of the three, by a huge margin, but also the least likely to be able to go toe to toe with the league's bulkier centers. Since the Mavericks do need centers and can't spend any money on getting new ones, Mahinmi is an obvious choice who will not require much in the way of salary.
That being said, whatever drafting and changing the Mavericks do in the next couple of weeks could change this picture in an instant, and it's not out of the question that the Mavericks will refuse to get in a bidding war should another team show interest.