As long as Dirk Nowitzki is around, the Dallas Mavericks are going to be major players in every free agency period. For the past few years, they’ve also largely swung and missed on all of their prime targets.
Since DeAndre Jordan backed out of Dallas a year ago, the team is still in dire need of a rim-protecting center to complement Dirk’s silky, outside offensive game, and the failed Rajon Rondo experiment left them with Deron Williams at point guard, who has now also departed for free agency. So Dallas needs a point guard, too, and once again the sights are set as high as they can go.
Mike Conley and Hassan Whiteside are arguably the best available players at each of their positions, and the Mavs are reportedly going hard after both of them. ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reports that they will get one of the first meetings with Whiteside when free agency opens, and that Conley is a “top target.” They’ll have stiff competition from both Conley and Whiteside’s current teams — the Grizzlies and Heat, respectively — but they do have the money to give both players maximum contracts, as long as they let Chandler Parsons walk.
Parsons showed flashes of becoming the shooting playmaker his skills have long suggested over his two season in Dallas, but persistent knee injuries never let him put it all together. Now that he’s opted out of his contract, he gives Dallas a chance to pivot and try to form a core of Conley, Wes Matthews (who should be even better a year further removed from Achilles surgery), Dirk and Whiteside. There’s tons of offensive and defensive skill in that starting lineup, and they have one of the best coaches in the NBA in Rick Carlisle to make all the parts mesh.
Of course, the fact that it’s a good idea doesn’t mean it will happen. The Grizzlies can offer Conley more money and more years on his contract, plus they have Justin Timberlake to help recruit. Hassan’s decision process will be business-driven, but the Heat don’t have the same Bird rights the Grizz do with Conley. If we had to guess, we’d say Whiteside is more likely to come over than Conley, but perhaps getting Whiteside will sway Conley as well.
Either way, they’ll be wary of any emojis flying around in July.