Another day, another name linked to the Dallas Mavericks via free agency.
This one is intriguing.
ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon and ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported on Sunday that the Mavs plan to pursue star power forward Pau Gasol when the calendar turns to July 1 in a week’s time.
Gasol, who will turn 34 years old next month, is an unrestricted free agent this summer after averaging 17.4 points and almost 10 rebounds per game last season with the Kobe-less, dysfunctional Los Angeles Lakers.
The price tag is the main component that Stein and MacMahon mention in their article last night. Gasol is coming off a year making more than $19 million and could see a hefty decrease this time around; about half of that.
A soon-to-be 34-year-old making about $10 million for two or three years, and would solidify the starting center position for a team who desperately needs it.
It’s an interesting connection. It’s also perfect, if the price is right.
First things first, regarding Gasol: Stein and MacMahon mention in their article that it’s either one or the other. There would be no possible way for the Mavs to get both Carmelo Anthony and Gasol, unless both decided to take a major pay cut and the chances of that are slim to none.
But as of Tuesday, speculation says Melo will end up in Chicago this summer. If that’s the case, then Gasol is a reasonable No. 2 option to pair with Dirk Nowitzki in the front court.
Of course, this sounds contradicting. It was only a week ago I said that Greg Monroe wouldn’t be a fit for the Mavs, especially defensively. Gasol isn’t any better defensively, especially at almost 34.
The best way to understand how this fits is knowing that the Mavs plan to be cap-friendly until they land a big-time free agent. Even if they don’t land Melo, Dallas will still have money to burn; approximately $23 million, $20 million after re-signing Dirk.
Why pay top dollar for a guy like Monroe, who can’t play defense, while the Mavs can get Pau for more than half of that and still get top-notch production?
Dallas probably has other post options ahead of Gasol, meaning Marcin Gortat or Tyson Chandler. Both would come at a price, though. The Washington Wizards are expected to go near top dollar for Gortat, while the New York Knicks could always get a better trade option for the former Maverick center Chandler.
The thought of putting Pau next to Dirk doesn’t scream championship, but it takes a lot to beat a high basketball IQ. The Mavs would surely have that with a guy like Gasol, a smart point guard in Jose Calderon, and Dirk.
There’s no doubt that Melo should still be Dallas’ top priority, but maybe now’s the time to start thinking about possible options at Plan B. Gasol and a veteran small forward who can play stellar defense wouldn’t be terrible second choices.