The Mavericks were hopeful that Deron Williams would be their starting point guard in 2012-13. When Williams decided that he would prefer to stay in Brooklyn rather than return home to Dallas, the Mavericks were extremely disappointed. The Mavericks had cleared cap space hoping that Williams would join Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas. Despite missing out on Williams, Dallas remained optimistic that their current point guard, Jason Kidd, would remain for 2012-13. Even though it was briefly reported that Kidd had agreed to stay in Dallas, he changed his mind at the last minute and decided to join Tyson Chandler in New York. The Mavericks were scrambling to find a solid point guard option for 2012-13. The Mavericks eventually pulled off a sign-and-trade with the Indiana Pacers, sending center Ian Mahinmi to Indiana for Darren Collison.
Collison was a first-round pick in 2009 who excelled in New Orleans when starting point guard Chris Paul went down with a knee injury during the 2009-10 season. Collison was later traded to the Indiana Pacers, who made him their starting point guard. Collison was never able to recapture the consistency for the Pacers that he displayed in New Orleans. Collison missed time with a sore groin during the 2011-12 season and never regained the starting job from George Hill. One cannot blame the Pacers as George Hill took advantage of the opportunity and outplayed Darren Collison.
The Mavericks were hopeful that their system and coach Rick Carlisle could help revive Collison’s career. Collison started the season playing very well, but began to display some of the shortcomings that frustrated the Pacers. Collison’s decision making in the half-court offense often left something to be desired. While he had the speed to leave his defender, he would often turn the ball over or fail to make the right pass, much to Rick Carlisle’s dismay. The Mavericks grew impatient with Collison and began searching anywhere and everywhere for a capable option that could run the offense. Derek Fisher was brought in and then left when it was obvious the Mavericks were not a contending team. The Mavericks tried backup shooting guard Dominique Jones at one point during the season and then settled on veteran free agent Mike James. Collison did have some positive games for the Mavericks down the stretch but the they could never count on consistent contribution from him or anyone else at the point guard position.
The Mavericks enter the 2013 offseason with ample cap room and a glaring need for a quality point guard. The good news is that the Mavericks will surely improve their production from the point guard position in 2013-14. There are not many quality point guards available in free agency, but the Mavericks will likely target at least a few of the five point guards listed below.
Nate Robinson has been a journeyman point guard throughout his career, but has always put up solid numbers when asked to play big minutes. The Bulls were already without starter Derrick Rose when Kirk Hinrich sustained a calf injury. Robinson was suddenly asked to play 40 minutes per game and responded in spectacular fashion for the Chicago Bulls. The depleted Bulls defeated the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs and Robinson played a huge role in the upset. Robinson erupted for 34 points in Game 4 and proved that he is capable of putting up big numbers when given a starter’s minutes. Robinson made less than $1 million last season and can expect a raise once free agency begins. Robinson could be an option for the right price depending on what unfolds in free agency. It will be interesting to see what the market is for Nate Robinson after the stellar end to his 2012-13 season.
4. Tyreke Evans
Tyreke Evans was the No. 4 pick in the 2009 draft and had a fantastic rookie year, averaging 20.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. Evans won the Rookie of the Year award and the future seemed bright for Evans and the Sacramento Kings.
Unfortunately for Evans his points and assists decreased in each of the following three seasons. Evans is not a true point guard but he is a very talented player. Evans was in a terrible situation in Sacramento and there is reason to think a change of scenery would be beneficial for his career. Evans can play the one or two guard position and is a creative scorer with the ball.
He could be a nice addition if the Mavericks are willing to gamble on the talent and upside that Evans has.
Brandon Jennings is a restricted free agent, which means the Milwaukee Bucks have the opportunity to match any offer that he receives from another team. Jennings is an interesting player in that he possesses the ability to take over games with his scoring ability. The downside of Jennings is that he is a volume shooter who refuses to stop shooting the ball even when his shot is not falling. Jennings is fast enough to break most defenders down with his lightning-fast ball-handling skills, but he often uses this ability to create shot opportunities for himself rather than his teammates.
The allure of Jennings remains strong because if he was to play with a more controlled style he would be a very effective weapon. During his four year career Jennings has averaged 17.0 points and 5.7 assists per game. Jennings would have to be willing to change his game to co-exist with Rick Carlisle who demands that his point guards take care of the ball.
Jose Calderon is a veteran, pass-first point guard who knows how to run an NBA offense while taking care of the ball. The last three seasons Calderon has averaged 10.5 points, 8.3 assists and 2.0 turnovers per game.
Turnovers plagued the Mavericks last season and Rick Carlisle would welcome a veteran point guard like Calderon who not only knows his role, but knows how to take care of the ball. If the Mavericks fail to land Chris Paul, Jose Calderon could be a great consolation prize and a noticeable upgrade over Darren Collison.
Don’t be surprised if the Mavericks immediately turn their attention to Calderon if Chris Paul decides to continue his outstanding career elsewhere.
1. Chris Paul
Chris Paul is arguably the best point guard in the NBA and is the top unrestricted free agent in the NBA marketplace.
Paul has virtually no weaknesses and will be the target of every team that has the salary cap room to offer Paul the max contract. The Clippers fired head coach Vinny Del Negro after the Clippers disappointing 2012-13 season and by all accounts this will increase the chances that Paul stays in Los Angeles.
The Clippers, Mavericks, Hawks and Rockets are all reported to be the front-runners for Paul’s services. It’s hard to picture Paul leaving Los Angeles unless a team is able to make another move that Chris Paul would find appealing.