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Can the Mavericks Afford to Gamble on Carmelo?

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News began to circulate on Friday that tied the Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets Forward, Carmelo Anthony together.  If you didn't see the Anthony story, you can read Marc Stein's ESPN.com piece here.  It's beyond obvious the Mavericks are looking to find a consistent star to run with Dirk Nowitzki.  Dallas definitely took their shot this summer as they went after guys like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul.  Once you scratch those players off the list, Carmelo Anthony clearly would be the next player to go after. 

Based off of Stein's article and numerous sources I have talked to at Mavericks HQs, I wouldn't hold my breath on ANY Anthony deal, to Dallas or any other team in the league, in the near future or even at the trade deadline in February.  Despite all of the drama and injuries, the Nuggets are still a viable playoff team and if that is the case, I can't imagine they'll abandon a playoff run just because Carmelo wants out of town.  Stein's article does carry a ton of weight with it though.  He is the gold standard when it comes to people locked in to the thoughts of the Mavericks organization.

Teams like Dallas would be taking a risk in acquiring Carmelo without getting him to sign on the dotted line.  Carmelo is taking a risk as well by not signing an extension.  Everyone will be entering in to the great unknown this summer with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement looming.  Carmelo has left a three-year, $65 million extension on the table since June.  That offer has been tossed at him several times and he has balked at it.  Odds are likely that he'll be taking a less lucrative max-contract deal, versus the current max-contract parameters, once the new CBA comes to fruition. 

For Dallas, the risk is in going for Carmelo is obvious.  The Mavericks would likely have to give up a good chunk of their expiring contracts in Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson to acquire the superstar.  The next part in the negotiations would be the inclusion of Roddy Beaubois, that is the part where people really start to doubt the interest going forward in order to get Anthony.  The question is, where does Carmelo rank on "the list?"  Clearly Roddy would have been available in order to get James, Wade and Paul.  The Mavericks drew a line in the sand and let it be known that Roddy wasn't available in order to obtain Joe Johnson during the offseason.  So where does Anthony rank?

From a player aspect, he has to fit more on the James, Wade and Paul side.  Anthony is a superstar and the combination of Dirk Nowitzki and Carmelo is about as potent as you can have on the offensive side of the court.  Just as the case would've been with Wade or James, Dirk would be willing to defer to Carmelo.  At this stage, Nowitzki is willing to do whatever it takes to get the elusive title that has been out of his reach during his decorated career.  Anthony would be, far and away, the best player Nowitzki has had as a teammate.

Many believe the Mavericks don't have the inside track when it comes to chips to get Carmelo.  The pieces are solid but there are teams around the league that have comparable pieces.  For Dallas, the issue is obviously the extension factor.  For Denver, the factor is the willingness to take Roddy when they have Ty Lawson.  That can be managed with finding a third team to throw into the mix.  That third team might be able to swing the balance in Dallas' favor.  The ability to give them Beaubois, something of strong value for Lawson, mixed with the expiring pieces of Butler and Stevenson might inch Dallas closer to the top.

If by some chance this deal was done before the deadline, a core of Tyson Chandler, Nowitzki, Anthony and the Jason's (Terry and Kidd) is a formidable lineup.  Depending on the specifics, you still have Brendan Haywood, J.J. Barea, Dominique Jones and others to fill out the roster.  It's hard to imagine that lineup can't compete against the best the league has to offer.  If you're a Mavericks fan, you have to hope it's enough to make a major run in the playoffs and use that as a bargaining chip to entice Carmelo to stay.  If they sputter in the playoffs, the risk clearly won't work out for Dallas and he will just leave. 

There have been reports that Amar'e Stoudemire has talked to players like Carmelo, Tony Parker and/or Chris Paul to create another super-team in New York.  It makes sense for Anthony to go to New York because he has history in that area.  That's the scary part of the equation, even if the Mavericks have a magical run, Carmelo still might be merely just a rental player.  Winning can change a lot of things, but it's not a given.

The injury to Beaubois clearly hinders any kind of assessment the Mavericks could make on the second-year guard.  The team, the fans and the media have talked about about his potential and everyone is dying to see him on the court.  With all of the pomp and circumstance surrounding his eventual return, you can't ignore the other side of the spectrum.  Roddy could end up being just a nice complimentary piece but one that may not live up to the role the Mavericks ultimately want him to fill.  If that is the case, do you take your chances with Carmelo and regroup if necessary?  It's not even a case of the known versus the unknown, it's the battle of the unknowns.

It's excusable to be hesitant based on the extension factor, but if the Mavericks hesitate to make that move solely on a player's perspective, that put incredible pressure on Roddy to perform as the Mavericks hope they will.  Either that, or people are severely underestimating the impact Carmelo has on the game.  The future isn't solely placed on Roddy's hands, he's just on the fast track.  The Mavericks still have Dominique Jones who has shown a knack for attacking the defense with veteran-like court vision and a defensive mindset.  He needs time to develop, but he might soften the blow of having to deal Beaubois.

It was mentioned earlier, but the CBA has a huge influence on everything.  From what I've gathered, there could be speed-bumps along the way during the summer but some kind of resolution should be made, likely favoring ownership.  You could see something along the lines of a hard salary cap and reduced years on max deals.  But what about a worst-cast scenario?  What if there IS a lockout and it goes for a portion or all of 2011-12.  Moving ahead to 2012-13, that would then leave Dirk, Brendan Haywood, Shawn Marion and Dominique Jones as the only players remaining.  At that point, the Dirk window now only has two years left in it, Jason Kidd is likely done and you've got an entire roster to fill out.  The lockout route might actually favor the Mavericks in the sense they go "win-now" and even if Carmelo leaves, they'll have plenty of space to reload for the future.

Clearly it's a gamble, one that can pay huge dividends.  The Mavericks are clearly interested and waiting to see how things play out in the Mile High City.  The move is the epitome of "Win-Now Mode" due to the fact it's not a foregone conclusion that Carmelo stays in Dallas.  It ultimately boils down to the question, which is more likely to happen:  Roddy will develop into the star that the Mavericks have craved or Carmelo will openly be willing to sign an extension with Dallas?  It's going to make for interesting debates over the next several months...