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Which Mavericks free agent will be back, ranked by emojis

Will Monta Ellis or Tyson Chandler be back? Them and eight other free agents pose decisions for Dallas.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks are the king of free agency turnover since 2011, but 10 free agents (assuming Monta Ellis opts out) this coming offseason feels like a record even for them.

In all likelihood, it will be another busy July of new signings and players walking away. The Mavericks have taken fliers that didn't pan out, which is unfortunate but also the reality of the situation. Now, they're faced with many, many summer decisions, ones that will be more difficult than whether Ant-Man is a midnight release sort of movie or you can catch it on a random Monday night. (I'd say it's definitely a Monday night sort of flick, but hey, that's up to you.)

Let's go through each free agent in no particular order and rank the likelihood they re-sign in Dallas next year. This is going to be a simple five star rating system, but instead of stars, let's use emojis appropriate for each player.

Amar'e Stoudemire

For minimum wage, Stoudemire was a good enough pickup for the final third of the season. He provided some fun moments -- like calling the team out looking like Cap'n Crunch -- but was dismal in the playoffs, not matching up with the Rockets whatsoever.

If he were content with minimum wage, I could see a scenario where Stoudemire returns, but I think he'll want a little more, even if it's just the $2.7-million bi-annual exception. Anyway, if the Mavericks are going to employ an offense-only backup big man, it needs to be one in the Brandan Wright role, one who is highly efficient and doesn't need to stop an offense down to score.

I'm putting the odds of him returning at one and a half wine glass emojis out of five.


Charlie Villaneuva

Why not? Charlie V loved it here in Dallas. He never had a full-time rotation role, but he had tons of big moments and won the Mavericks a couple of games. I think he knows he's a minimum salary player now and if he's willing to reprise his role in Dallas, there's no reason Rick Carlisle & Co. wouldn't want him back.

"I've been in the league for 10 years and been coached by nine different coaches," he said at his exit interview. "I would love to experience the same coach again next year, but we'll see."


Rajon Rondo

The "chart with a down trend" emoji was actually made symbolizing Rondo's perception by Mavericks fans from when the trade happened to the playoffs.


Greg Smith

I'm not convinced Smith will be in the NBA next season, which is a bummer, because he was absolutely an NBA-quality player in his first couple of seasons. Blame injuries or whatever, but he never had it in Dallas, besides his wonderful bench celebrations.

greg smith

J.J. Barea

I'm tempted to add another Puerto Rican flag emoji to this ranking because I believe there's mutual interest between the two parties. Say what you will about him (oh, and I have said things about him in the past), but Barea is best in the Mavericks flow offense where his pick-and-rolls are a legitimate danger to opposing defenses. Unless Dallas finds themselves pressed up against the cap with no room to reacquire him when they've made their big moves, I tend to lean towards Barea returning next season.


Richard Jefferson

Jefferson was an old minivan -- not fast or particularly impressive, but still reliable making the veteran's minimum. If he'll return for the same price, I'm sure he could be back with the Mavericks, but he may be looking for a larger role somewhere. While he accepted his spot in Dallas and was a great locker room leader, he made it clear he had expected a larger role when he signed. Two old minivans of five!


Al-Farouq Aminu

Aminu's season fixing all the Mavericks' defensive problems made you forget he was only being paid the minimum sometimes. It's really incredible for a player who had that sort of impact, even peaking in the playoffs. I think Dallas both recognizes and appreciates what he was able to do in his handyman role (thus, the wrench emoji), which bodes well for his re-signing.

"They are going to take getting Aminu back extremely seriously as the only one on the team who might be able to, at some point, guard every position," Hal Brown writes in his free agency primer, using info he's heard about Mark Cuban's possible plans. With that in mind, I'm all in Aminu's return to the team and would be surprised if he's not back.

aminu emoji

Bernard James

I'd love Sarge back. He probably wouldn't play much or even wear a uniform most nights, but he's a good guy to fill in as your emergency big man. Of course, cutting him instead of Smith or Ricky Ledo before the season, even as the team brought him back a few months later, makes me question how much they really value him. But he's there if he's needed. Two American flags out of five for his military service.


Monta Ellis

Monta is always keeping it 100, although that's not always a good thing. I do think he opts out and I don't think he'll be back when that happens, as reported, but there's enough nebulousness out there that I'm giving him just two "one hunnid" emojis.


Tyson Chandler

I just don't know. It's 50/50 to me, right down the middle. DeAndre Jordan or Marc Gasol clearly makes more sense than Tyson, but I'm not convinced either of them are actually leaving their current teams, so where does that leave Dallas?

If he gives them a hometown discount (no more than four years, $40 million) and they strike out on a free agent center, he's back for sure. But assuming either of those things to be true makes me very nervous.