The Mavericks are looking to free up one or two roster spots and are shopping Gal Mekel and Bernard James, Yahoo!'s Marc J. Spears reports. Mekel and James are two of the 15 players with guaranteed contracts with the team.
Freeing up a roster spot would likely open room for Charlie Villanueva, who signed an unguaranteed contract before training camp and has played well in the preseason. Before Villanueva, the team signed Rashard Lewis before waiving his contract to do an undisclosed injury, so clearly the team is on the hunt for a backup four who can stretch the floor.
Alternatively, the Mavericks could just leave a roster spot open, something they're interested in doing according to the Spears report. No trade is imminent and, as Kurt Helin points out, James cannot be traded until December 15.
Mekel is widely rumored to be the most expendable player on the Mavericks. He still has two years left on his contract but at a minimum salary. There is also a log jam at point, with Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris, and Raymond Felton all looking to see minutes at point guard. If Mekel takes the floor it will be due to catastrophic injuries or junk time.
James is the more interesting of the two players. He spent the last two seasons with the Mavericks before becoming a free agent this summer. Dallas brought him in to play for their Summer League team but released him before it was over. He then resigned with the Mavs in September to a one-year minimum deal.
Retaining James would give the Mavericks a safety net at center. Tyson Chandler will see the majority of minutes with Brandan Wright and Greg Smith backing him up. However, both Wright and Smith are more situational players with Wright being an offensive threat and Smith working on defensive end. With Chandler's recent health concerns and the team not wanting to burn him out over the long season, there could be a role for James as he enters his third season.
It's worth noting that Mark Cuban said the preseason roster is fluid. Guaranteed contracts don't mean a player will make the final cut. Instead, Cuban is looking to put the best team on the court this season and is willing to buy out contracts to free up room for other players.
Mekel and James have everything to prove now if they don't want to be chopped...like cats.