Apr 12, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Eric Bledsoe (2) and Dallas Mavericks guard Devin Harris (20) and forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks defeated the Suns 101-98. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Mavericks: Top Free Agent Targets, Minus Carmelo Anthony

The last two offseasons have taught me not to buy so much stock into the Dallas Mavericks acquiring a big-named free agent.

Although I’m holding out more hope than ever that the Mavs can reel in Carmelo Anthony, there’s always that need for a Plan B.

Unless the Big Three in Miami, along with Carmelo, opt out this summer, this free-agent class isn’t going to be oozing with marquee names. But it does possess names that can fit the needs that Dallas has, and that’s through all five positions.

Here are some names to look out for, just in case the Mavs can’t bring ‘Melo to Dallas.

Luol Deng – SF, Cleveland Cavaliers/Chicago Bulls

Luol Deng has been the No. 1 target for Dallas for the last two years, and the Mavericks were hairs away from acquiring him in a trade with Chicago before ultimately being shipped to Cleveland (God bless him).

Deng even admitted that his defense wasn’t at his highest level when he played for the Cavs, and who could blame him when you go from a winning tradition in Chicago to … well, Cleveland?

But now that Deng is a free agent, the Mavs are finally in a good position to get him. He’s coming up on 30 years old, but he’d already be a younger replacement for Shawn Marion, whom I expect the Mavs to not re-sign regardless of the ‘Melo acquisition. Rick Carlisle has done wonders with the likes of Vince Carter and Monta Ellis.

If Deng was worried about lacking his defensive intensity, he’ll get it back in Dallas.

Marcin Gortat – C, Washington Wizards

Another guy who has been long-linked to the Mavs, Gortat was also hairs away from heading to Dallas in 2009 before the Orlando Magic matched the Mavs’ five-year, $34 million offer to be Dwight Howard‘s backup. That didn’t last long, seeing how Gortat was traded in December 2010 in a blockbuster deal with Phoenix.

Gortat is probably the most post-efficient big man in the game. He’s very smooth on the low block, and is also one of the better rebounders in the game. He’s coming off a 13.2-point, 9.5-rebound year in Washington, where the Wizards went on their magical playoff run this season.

The Polish Prodigy (Hey, that has a nice ring to it), turned 30 in February, but he wouldn’t be a Chris Kaman-type player. Gortat has the tools on both sides of the floor to be an effective player in Dallas. In terms of big-man compliment to Dirk Nowitzki, Gortat would be a solid fit.

Trevor Ariza – SF, Washington Wizards

Gortat’s teammate, Ariza, will also be getting a nice payday this summer after his performance in the playoffs. His point production dropped from 14.9 points in 2009-10, to 9.5 in 2012-13 before revitalizing his career this season in Washington by scoring 14.4 points and grabbing a career-high 6.2 rebounds.

Ariza would be a nice Plan B if Deng doesn’t sign with Dallas. He’s another guy that would benefit playing under Carlisle and, again, is another young replacement at small forward who can play tenacious defense.

Whether or not Ariza’s resurgence was an aberration or not remains to be seen, but at 28 years old and coming up on his 11th year in the league, he’s still got a lot left to be a key piece on a playoff team. Hence why it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Wizards match anything for Ariza.

Eric Bledsoe – PG, Phoenix Suns

If you were waiting for the wild card of the list, welcome aboard.

This would require a lot of moving and shaking on the Mavs’ part. Bledsoe is a restricted free agent this summer, meaning the Suns can match any offer a team gives him.

But, to no one’s surprise, this is another guy the Mavs were close to acquiring last summer before the Clippers eventually shipped him to Phoenix for Jared Dudley and others. His backcourt mate, Goran Dragic, calls Bledsoe the “Mini LeBron” of the NBA, and it’s not hard to see why. He’s strong, athletic and can score from anywhere on the court.

If the Mavs are set on going after Bledsoe, the first thing to do would be trade Jose Calderon and free up the almost $8 million that the Mavs are paying him. And seeing how the Mavs know the Suns will match any offer, it’d have to be close to max dollars.

A backcourt of Bledsoe and Monta Ellis sounds more scary than Calderon and Ellis. That’s all I need to say on that.


Are there any other names you think would fit with the Mavs this year? Leave them in the comments.

You can find Danny Webster on Twitter @DannyWebster21.

Tags: Dallas Mavericks Eric Bledsoe Luol Deng Marcin Gortat NBA Free Agency

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