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Al Horford would be dreamy in a Mavericks uniform

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The All-Star out of Atlanta would be a dream fit in Rick Carlisle's system and a great compliment to Dirk Nowitzki. Too bad he's another pie-in-the-sky free agent.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Al Horford is the most unassuming superstar. He's really, really good. He's the linchpin of the Hawks defense, a great passer, cutter and mid-range shooter who's starting to extend his range out to three.

Horford's overseen two eras of good Hawks' basketball -- the Joe Johnson underwhelmers and the pace-and-space Mike Budenholzer mini-Spurs. He's been the anchor of both teams, morphing his game to whatever the team needs. Horford's a rare-breed of superstar that can quietly dominate a game in a secondary role while also being the dude you throw the ball to in the post with under two minutes to go in a playoff game.

Last season was one of his best. Two years ago the Hawks were a super fun up-and-down three-point shooting team. Lacking shooters this season, they transformed themselves into a stingy defensive group -- credit to Horford (with help from Paul Millsap) for keeping the team together. Horford isn't going to wow you with shot blocking but he's smart with his help, a sturdy post defender and rotates well.

Despite his body of work, Atlanta doesn't have too much to show for it. With LeBron opposite him in either Cleveland and Miami for most of his career, the Hawks have never reached a Finals in the Horford era. They were smoked in the second round by the Cavs this playoffs and you can kind of squint and see the need to maybe shake things up. Atlanta has a ton of free agent decisions to make with a roster that doesn't seem capable of dethroning LeBron.

Yet, I mean, the Hawks are pretty good. The desire to shake it up in this championship or bust mentality is weird -- every Finals seems to come along with injuries, freak slumps, weird streaks. Having a team capable of getting into the second round is a pretty sweet gig. That is the type of consistency Horford brings.

Fit with the Mavericks

Slotting Horford into Rick Carlisle's system would be a comparable feeling to when they put The Rock into the Fast and Furious movies -- a match made in heaven.

Horford's selflessness, passing, all around basketball smarts would mesh perfectly with Carlisle's pick and roll heavy system. Hell, he got Zaza Pachulia to look like an All-Star for 30 or so games. Horford would be the most well-rounded center in Mavericks history and while he probably isn't the perfect athlete to fit next to Dirk, he'd still mesh great.

Horford wouldn't be Tyson Chandler, but he's a damn good help defender that could clean up some of Dirk's weaknesses. I'm not sure he'll be able to cover all of them -- Horford did have Millsap as his frontcourt partner and several excellent perimeter defenders in Atlanta. He didn't have to clean up tons of mistakes in Atlanta and whether it's Millsap or Josh Smith, he's always had an excellent defending frontcourt teammate -- coming to Dallas would be the biggest defensive challenge of his career.

Offensively, Horford doesn't have the same gravity as Chandler or a DeAndre Jordan has on pick and rolls, but with Dirk spotting up around him, Horford would be more than capable of getting points as a roll man, whether that's popping at the top of the key or diving down the lane. He did plenty of that in Atlanta with Millsap, who isn't in the same league as Dirk as a floor-spacer. Dirk would do wonders to age Horford's game and as long as Chandler Parsons is back to normal to start the year, Deron Williams returns and Wesley Matthews rediscovers his Portland self, a 5-man unit of Williams-Matthews-Parsons-Dirk-Horford would shred the league apart under a flurry of ball screens and shooting. Horford's extending range and offensive smarts would also allow him to play the four in Rick Carlisle's system, allowing the Mavs to ease up on Dirk's minutes as Horford soaks up some power forward time in bench lineups -- and also in the Dirk-less future.

I'm practically drooling at the thought of some fun high-low, Dirk and Horford screening action.

Likelihood

*insert Price is Right failhorn*

Horford is a max-level free agent. The Dallas Mavericks are the Dallas Mavericks. This isn't hard to figure out.

The Mavericks would be better off spending most of Mark Cuban's fortune to build an Al Horford robot then to actually court him in free agency. Horford doesn't strike me as the type of superstar to chase big markets and he's made a home in Atlanta with a roster that has lightyears of progress on the Mavs in the last five years.

Dallas would be better off going after second and third-tier free agents, like Horford's teammate Kent Bazemore, instead of Horford himself. Horford isn't likely to leave a good Atlanta roster and if he is, he has better options such as Miami to flock to.