Perhaps the most intriguing aspect that came from the Dallas Mavericks’ 2013-14 season was the plethora of point guards at their disposal. Four, to be exact — Jose Calderon, Devin Harris, Shane Larkin and Gal Mekel.
That’s a lot.
The point guard position is vital, and the Mavs proved that point when they drafted Larkin 18th overall in last summer’s NBA Draft. Later that summer, Dallas signed Calderon to a four-year deal, and soon locked up Harris and Mekel during the NBA Summer League.
Four point guards, all at one point found playing time. Calderon was the starter all year long, and Harris, when healthy, assumed the backup duties while prospects Larkin and Mekel watched from the bench.
But the once-abundance of point guards could change drastically by summer’s end. Harris is a free agent this summer, and all signs point to him being back in Dallas. Larkin showed a lot of promise in his rookie season, and if healthy, could see an increase in playing time next season. Mekel was at the end of the bench and didn’t impress, or show flashes, as frequently as Larkin did.
Then there’s the situation with Calderon.
It’s not really a dilemma until the Mavs are certain that it will be, but Calderon could be on his way out of Dallas via trade if plans fall into place. How certain that ideology is, no one knows.
But Calderon, although one of the best 3-point shooters in the NBA, is also one of the worst defenders in the league. It wasn’t primarily his fault that Dallas did so terribly on defense last season, but it also wasn’t pretty watching Tony Parker leave his mark in the first round of the playoffs the way he did.
When the Mavs enter free agency, the trade chip that is the most attractive is that $8 million-plus on Calderon’s deal. If the Mavs are serious about going after a marquee free agent this summer, a way to help in that is dumping Calderon’s salary elsewhere.
All signs point to Harris re-signing, and receiving a deal similar to the original one he was going to get before his toe injury — three years, around $9 million. For a veteran point guard with starting capability, that’s a perfect — and cheaper deal — for Harris.
The best case scenario would be for Harris to be the starting point guard come this October/November. He’s obviously not as great of a 3-point shooter as Calderon, but he’s quick and can contend — at best — with the likes of Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook or Parker. Having someone like Larkin backing up Harris would be ideal because they play very similarly. Mekel would be the project Dallas can continue to groom.
Rick Carlisle needs a quick, defensive point guard to operate what he wants defensively. Calderon, at $8-million-plus a year and at 32 years old, is not the ideal option.
Keep an eye on the point guard position going forward after free agency, especially if Calderon is traded. Having four point guards on the roster isn’t ideal, especially if only two are going to play.
Especially if the Mavs can go after Carmelo Anthony, it only helps, right?