DALLAS -- The Mavs' pursuit of Carmelo Anthony went from a pipe dream to a possibility Wednesday.
There will be no deal between the Nuggets and Nets, New Jersey owner Mikhail Prokhorov declared after much drama. That gives the Mavs a chance to land by far the biggest star in the open market.
It doesn't necessarily make the Mavs the frontrunners. Unless the deal is expanded to include other teams, the Rockets can offer a more attractive package of picks and young players than the Mavs. And the Nuggets would definitely prefer to ship Melo to the Eastern Conference.
But the Mavs, whose offer would begin with a package that features a promising 22-year-old prospect in Rodrigue Beaubois and a pair of expiring contracts in injured Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson, should be in the mix. They'd likely have to find a way to take back Al Harrington's five-year, midlevel contract as well.
But, unlike the Nets, the Mavs wouldn't need an extension agreed upon to pull the trigger on the deal.
Owner Mark Cuban wouldn't comment on Anthony or any other specific player Wednesday night. However, he acknowledged that he'd have no issues trading for a "rental player."
Cuban is confident that a player would want to re-sign with the Mavs after a few months in Dallas. He also pointed out that it could be to the club's benefit to get a trial period of sorts before signing a player to a huge deal.
Cuban, however, stressed that the Mavs won't rush to make a deal out of desperation. And this was before the Mavs snapped a six-game losing streak with a convincing win over the Lakers.
Cuban wants to see if the Mavs can recapture their mojo from the season's first two months with Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler healthy again. He hopes they'll also get a good look at Beaubois in the rotation before the Feb. 24 trade deadline.
"The bottom line is there’s no reason to panic," Cuban said. "There’s no reason to do anything but let’s just see what happens."
This might be the Mavs' best -- and last -- chance to acquire the superstar Nowitzki needs to boost the Mavs' chances to win a championship before the window closes on the career of the best player in franchise history.
Making a deal for Melo wouldn't be a panic move. It'd be seizing the moment. Count on Cuban taking his best shot over the next month.