Based upon the recent blockbuster trade and many doubts about the availability of Dwight next summer, I decided to take a look at next year's free agent crop and see what's available, and if they may become a Maverick next year.
The Big Names
Andrew Bynum, Phillidelphia 76ers - $16.1 million - Unrestricted
Bynum moves to the top of the list in my opinion as a max player next summer. If Philly finishes 7-8 in the East, will he want to stay in Philly and struggle, or play alongside Dirk as a top 4 team in the west? With Bynum, I still put the Heat, Boston, Nets, Chicago (healthy D-Rose), maybe Knicks, maybe Pacers ahead of Philly. How important does winning mean to Bynum vs. Money?
Only possible if LA explodes this season, but he still has to be mentioned.
I would have Smith right below Bynum if he played something other than PF as his main position. He can play the 3, but his strength comes from his overwhelming athleticism at the 4. I think he is the most likely to leave, but his overlapping with Dirk makes Dallas an unlikely destination.
If Lakers win the championship, he would not even be his city's favorite point guard. That would be Nash. Does he want to perpetually be second fiddle in his own city? I don't see why he would leave Blake to join Dirk because of their respective ages, but Paul is very prideful, and if his own city doesn't appreciate him, he may bolt.
Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder - $2.2 million - Restricted
I lump them together because their fates are so intertwined. One of these guys may be available at a high price if you're interested. Harden is a max guy. There is no argument against this in this market. He is just as good as Eric Gordon, and much better than Batum. The guy is gonna get the max unless he re-ups before the extension deadline for less. I'm not sure if OKC will max both Harden and Ibaka if they don't get past the Lakers, especially having to likely amnesty Perkins to do so who is a Dwight killer. The question is which one is available, and do you really want to give Ibaka the max? He blocks shots, decent mid-range, and that's it. He is improving, and if he reaches his potential he is worth it, but it is a risky contract.
The Point Guard Crew
These guys are almost all get the same description. Some are slightly better than others, and opinions can vary greatly based upon how you like to watch basketball. I think Holiday, Jennings, and Tyreke can all be had if you overpay, but how much do you have to overpay? They are all shot-chucking combo guards who could improve playing with Dirk and a good organization, but it will take a risky overpay to get them. Curry, Wall, and Lawson will be matched. We have the trump card on Collison, and if he plays great this year, expect him back next year over these other guys.
The Wild Cards
Very solid big man in the middle. Great Rebounder, decent offensively, decent defensively. I think it would be very hard to get him from Minnesota without maxxing him out (I don't think he's a max guy). Kahn is in appease Kevin Love mode, Minnesota will likely take a leap this season, and I think they will try to retain him at almost any price.
Him and Ibaka are the same player, except Taj is smarter defensively, but not as much potential and not as good of a mid-range jumper. Will be cheaper, but Chicago may match.
Defensive sieve, but would be the best post player offensively Dirk has ever had. He will be available if we want him, but once again, how much do you pay?
Martin will sign for less, the question is the years. He is nearing 30 or at 30 so this is a cautious signing. I would stick with Mayo personally.
I like Mayo better, but DeRozan does intrigue me. Great athleticism, but he has struggled to carry a team offensively, especially when Bargnani got hurt. Playing with Dirk puts him in a more complimentary role. He may be available because of Toronto's reach on Terrence Ross may indicate it is giving DeMar a last chance.
This list is rather disappointing compared to what we were hoping for. Bynum is a possibility, but he is the only one that can really "move the needle" for most fans. There is value here; the question is how much do you pay to get it?