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Report: Mavs To Court Pau Gasol In Free Agency

After an offseason that saw them miss out on Dwight Howard at the final hour and seemingly overpay for the defense-challenged backcourt tandem of Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis, many believed the Dallas Mavericks had no chance to compete in a loaded Western Conference in 2013-2014. But Rick Carlisle and Dirk Nowitzki worked their typical magic, pushing Dallas to 49 wins, a playoff birth, and a decisive seventh game in the first-round agains the eventual NBA champions. Dallas has bigger ambitions for next season, and it starts with making a splash in free agency this summer. To that end, the Mavs reportedly plan to pursue Los Angeles Lakers big man Pau Gasol.

This fun bit of news comes courtesy of ESPN’s Tim MacMahon and Marc Stein.

The Dallas Mavericks plan to be among the teams pursuing Los Angeles Lakers center/power forward Pau Gasol once free agency begins July 1, according to sources close to the situation.

The Mavs’ level of interest in the 7-foot Gasol is largely dependent on his price tag, sources told ESPNDallas.com. The four-time All-Star, who turns 34 next month, is expected to take a major pay cut after making $19.3 million last season.

Dirk and Pau on the same team? Sign us up!

Gasol isn’t the in-prime superstar that Mark Cuban and company have long sought, but would be a substantial upgrade to a Dallas frontcourt that lacked any scoring punch save for Nowitzki. Lost amid the Lakers’ horrific performance last season was a bounce-back campaign from Pau. He played just 60 games due to a series of minor injuries and chronic feet pain, but Gasol upped his productivity and efficiency numbers across the board compared to 2012-2013 despite carrying a heavier load and drawing more defensive attention with Kobe Bryant sidelined.

Don’t get us wrong – Gasol is hardly the player he was even three years ago and certainly won’t be going forward. But any improvement at all in 2013-2014 after such a dreadful previous season is reason for celebration. Not unlike Nowitzki, some assumed that Pau’s days as an impact player were over before last season tipped off. He proved that belief wrong.

Of course, that’s not to say that Gasol is a perfect fit in Dallas, either. How often he could even share the floor with Nowitzki should be a concern for the Mavs; both are smart team defenders, but lack the foot-speed and explosiveness to corral pick-and-roll ballhandlers or protect the paint in their elder states. The Mavericks allowed opponents to shoot a second-to-last ranked 55% at the rim last season. The Nowitzki-Gasol pairing would only make matters worse.

The European legends wouldn’t be playing all of their minutes together, however, and Samuel Dalembert and Brandan Wright – though hardly special defenders – offer attributes on that end Nowitzki and Gasol simply don’t. And while playing Nowitzki and Gasol apart for a game’s majority seems a missed opportunity given the on-paper synergy of their offensive games, Dallas could certainly use another scorer when Dirk hits the bench. Pau is a fantastic fit for that potential role.

The price-tag will ultimately be what matters here. Nowitzki will take a pay-cut to assuage cap concerns and believes the Mavs don’t have a realistic shot to land Anthony, but Dallas surely has its heights set higher than just Gasol. If Pau can come at a reasonable salary, this marriage makes perfect sense.

MacMahon and Stein mentioned Luol Deng as another free agency option for the Mavericks in their report. MacMahon took that news a step further in a tweet on Saturday afternoon.

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Defensive issues and all, that’s definitely a competitive team even in the West. Deng or not, though, we just hope the Mavs can work something out with Gasol. Watching him play on the same team as Dirk is the stuff of which basketball nerds dream.

Would Pau be a good fit for the Mavs?

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