The Mavs are one of the best offensive teams in the league, if not the best. We rank 3nd in offensive efficiency for the season (after Miami and the Clippers) and, since the All-Star Break, 2nd in offensive efficiency (after the Spurs). As tempting as pursuing guys like Carmelo or Greg Monroe are, those guys aren't elite defenders, although you can never have too much offensive talent.
We should assume after resigning Dirk for around $10m and keeping Dalembert, we'll have about $19m in cap space, and will need to fill holes at SF, backup PF, C and perimeter defender before we can be considered a contender. I have broken down free agents at each position that could help bolster our defense and balance out our lineups. It would be nice to be able to throw four great defenders plus Dirk when we've built a 20 point lead so we don't blow the end of games like we have repeatedly this year.
Ideal Option : Kyle Lowry (3.3 DWS, 105 DRTG) - would be an excellent two-way option and would probably take Calderon's starting spot. But might be too costly for sharing Jose's position.
Budget Option : Mario Chalmers (2.3 DWS, 105 DRTG) - not a great PG per se, but a good perimeter defender, and has lots of championship experience. Might be worth $3m if Miami can't afford to keep him after giving LeBron the raise he's earned.
- Avery Bradley (1.3 DWS, 108 DRTG) - the numbers don't show it on his awful team but he's one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. The problem is that he's restricted.
Ideal Option : Lance Stephenson (4.7 DWS, 100 DRTG) - a top ten defender in the league, he would clearly be our top priority if he didn't share the same position as our #2 scorer. However, my proposal would be to offer Indy Monta + a piece in a sign and trade, since Monta fits within the space between their salary obligations and the cap and would help them with their offensive stagnation.
Budget Option : Thabo Sefalosha (2.1 DWS, 103 DRTG) - solid 3-D guy.
Ideal Fantasy Option : LeBron James (3.4 DWS, 104 DRTG) - no explanation needed, but clearly a longshot.
Ideal Realistic Option : Trevor Ariza (3.3 DWS, 104 DRTG) - a solid starter and great defender.
Budget Option : P.J. Tucker (2.5 DWS, 106 DRTG) - also a solid starter and good defender. Not quite at Ariza's level, but could be half the price too.
Other options :
- Luol Deng (2.3 DWS, 106 DRTG) - would have been the consensus ideal realistic option but between the relative disappointment of his Cleveland stint and the presumed high cost, he just might not be worth the money.
- Paul Pierce (2.1 DWS, 104 DRTG) - potential HOFer in his autumn years might actually make a nice addition here at a decent price. He's got the vet smarts Carlisle likes.
- Shawn Marion (1.9 DWS, 108 DRTG) - lost a step defensively, but he's also one of the only players currently keeping us off a cliff of bad defense. At the right price...
- Al-Farouq Aminu (1.7 DWS, 108 DRTG) - not a great shooter, but a solid defender
Ideal Fantasy Option : Chris Bosh (3.2 DWS, 104 DRTG) - Doubtful to leave Miami and come home to Big D. I think if we did end up getting him, he'd play more C and then move to PF whenever Dirk's on the bench. Not sure if he's worth a max deal when he plays the same position as Dirk, though.
Budget Option : Jordan Hill (1.1 DWS, 108 DRTG) - I've been pretty high on the idea of getting Hill ever since around the trade deadline. He's an elite per-minute rebounder, a strong defender and the idea of him in a backcourt with Brandan Wright kind of excites me.
Other Options :
- Andray Blatche (2.0 DWS, 104 DRTG) - Great defender, might be cheapish. Also can play C.
- Kris Humphries (1.8 DWS, 104 DRTG) - In case you want to risk another (ex-)Kardashian. But seriously, Humphries is a solid scorer, defender and rebounder at the right price.
Ideal Fantasy Option : Emeka Okafor (3.7 DWS, 99 DRTG - 2012-13) - If he's fully healthy and ready to go at the beginning of free agency, I'd be willing to pay him a decent amount. There's no question he's the best legit defensive starting C on the list if healthy. Unfortunately, it might be a fantasy after missing a year with a herniated disk. If he's not fully healthy, I'd still be willing to take a cheaper flier out on him with the hopes he'd get healthy as the season progresses.
Ideal Realistic Option : Marcin Gortat (3.5 DWS, 103 DRTG) - Although most think he'll stay in Washington, recent remarks make it sound like he'd shop around. I'm hesitant to overpay Gortat, but barring a healthy Okafor or a trade opening up for Asik or Sanders, Gortat might be the best we can possibly do. He'd instantly be one of the better Cs in Dallas history. I just am not impressed by him enough to pay him $12-15m a year if that's what it takes to get him. The one benefit is that we could trade Dalembert or preferably Wright in a deal to bolster other positions. Gortat can take the majority of the C minutes, meaning we'll need one primary backup and one solid third stringer which can be drafted or found for a near-minimum or use a PF like Hill or Blatche to play 3rd string minutes.
Budget Option : Chris Andersen (2.1 DWS, 102 DRTG) - I've liked Birdman for a long time, ever since watching him play damn effective defense on Dirk in the 2009 playoffs and watching his defense in the Finals last year. If we can't find a legit starting C and we're keeping the Dalembert - Wright center-by-committee, a player like Birdman would certainly bolster its strength, probably for a reasonable deal.
Other (inferior) options:
- Greg Monroe (2.3 DWS, 107 DRTG) - Seems like a not great defender, but a great rebounder at least...wouldn't be my first choice, but his offensive potential is appealing. The next Al Jefferson.
- Spencer Hawes (2.1 DWS, 108 DRTG) - Also has a rep as a bad defender. Again, for the right price he might be ok.
Although I'd like to get a few big free agency names, getting four or five good budget defenders instead might actually be all we really need to be a good team. If we could get PJ Tucker, Birdman, Jordan Hill and Sefalosha and maybe bring back Marion, Carter and Harris on minimum or exception deals, that would be a pretty deep, balanced roster:
Calderon - Harris - Larkin
Ellis - Sefalosha - Ledo, Ellington or draft pick
Tucker - Marion - Carter
Dirk - Hill - draft pick
Dalembert - Birdman - Wright