MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12: Caron Butler of the Dallas Mavericks celebrates with the Larry O'Brien trophy after the Mavericks won 105-95 against the Miami Heat in Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Last week, we met up to discuss the Streakin' Puerto Rican, J.J. Barea, and his fit with the Mavericks next year. While substantial arguments both ways for Barea perhaps makes him the most debatable Maverick free agent, he is not the only one with his place on in Dallas up in the air. This week, we will look at the other guys.
Despite the season-ending injury that Caron suffered, there is no doubt that he played a part of the Mavericks championship run. His efforts to try to return, his constant support of his teammates, and his refusal to quit endeared himself to the team even more as the Mavericks made their playoff run. Caron Butler, despite not playing a minute after the All Star break, was one of the many pieces that came together to result in a Maverick championship.
With that said, it was one piece. The Mavericks had to have thousands of pieces come together for this year to finally result in a title, just like any champion. Bringing back Butler because he of his emotional impact is foolish. The question is whether or not Butler can make this team better.
That's one I don't know. I don't know if his knee has fully healed and I don't know what sort of ramifications it will cause on his game. All I know is that with Caron Butler, before his injury, both he and the Mavericks were pretty damn good this year. The teams around the Mavericks are only getting better, and the players here are only getting older. If the plan is to win again while Dirk's still a superstar, then the Mavericks should look to make their team better next year. After seeing what Butler could do this year, he seems like a safe gamble to take. That 22-5 start to the season in 2010 with Caron led many people to call the Mavericks legitimate contenders, they looked that good. If the Mavericks feel as if resigning Butler could lead to the reemergence of that team, a team which looked at times even better the squad that eventually won the championship, then he needs to be signed up as soon as can be, and the Mavericks might want to hold off on making June vacation plans.
I appreciate Peja's contributions down the stretch of the regular season. I recognize that his play early in the playoffs really helped the Mavericks advance as easily as they did. Actually, I would not mind having Peja back, except for the fact that the Mavericks really don't have room for him. If Caron Butler comes back, he and Shawn Marion will be occupying much of the time at the SF. If he doesn't, younger players like Corey Brewer and even Beaubois and Jones (in a three guard lineup with Kidd and Terry) will be wanting minutes there. Peja is aging and fragile; he's not a bad player, but it's much more beneficial to replace him with younger players and challenge them to replace Stojakovic's production, something that if they're playing well they can do two- or three-fold.
I know we all love Bobby-C. We're going to miss him next year when he's gone, right? Not necessarily. Unlike Peja, Cardinal plays at a position where the Mavericks do not have any real depth. There's no young PF needing minutes behind Dirk; in fact, the primary backup really is Shawn Marion, who fills that role adequately but clearly is a 3. Without a doubt, the stars of the Mavericks rosters will be getting plenty of rest. Cardinal, a guy who really meshed with the Maverick's clubhouse chemistry and apparently one of Dirk's favorite teammates, could easily be brought on the cheap to backup Dirk as he gets plenty of rest and relaxation on the bench.
Here's one of the tougher decisions. If the Mavericks want to resign Stevenson, then they need to ready to give him minutes. There's no question that Stevenson can provide floor spacing with his streaky but ultimately efficient three point shooting, and also bring a physical mentality and hard-nosed defense while playing the wing. For the Mavericks, always looking for two-way players, DeShawn is a guy who they should look to resign, but only for cheap. If he's being offered more money elsewhere, just let him go. The logjam is not so big that the Mavericks should pass on a solid role player like him, but letting him go will certainly make Carlisle's rotation easier to manage next year while he gets minutes for Roddy Beaubois, Dominique Jones, Corey Brewer, Caron Butler (as discussed above), and of course, Jason Terry.
Let's end with the most obvious decision the Mavericks have. Tyson Chandler MUST be signed. Its that simple. There's no hypothetical situations, no possible outcomes, no potential acquisitions that would change this. He changed this team with his toughness, energy, and grit, and most consider him the missing piece that propelled the Mavericks to finally get that title. No more "almost" or "should have" or "we lost, but...". The only thing to see here is Tyson is suiting up in a Mavericks when the next NBA game is played. Chandler wants to return and the Mavericks want him back, so now its up to Donnie and Cubes to make it happen.