Everyone knows by now the uphill battle the Dallas Mavericks face to re-sign center Tyson Chandler to a deal that also keeps them in play for the free-agent class of 2012. Chandler made that clear Wednesday night.
How the Mavs proceed with their other five free agents could depend greatly on whether Chandler returns or signs elsewhere.
So, here's a quick breakdown as the free agency period is in its infancy, just day two in which teams can talk to player-agents to discuss potential contracts. No agreements, oral or written, can be consummated until Dec. 9.
* J.J. Barea: The Barea front, headed by agent Dan Fegan, has been rather quiet ever since the Xinjiang Flying Tigers in China extended him a contract offer. Barea earned $1.8 million last season and that number figures to increase by a healthy amount. But, just how healthy? Would a team drop its entire $5 million mid-level exception on the career backup? The Mavs need a quality backup to help keep Jason Kidd's minutes in check, and Rodrigue Beaubois might not be ready to handle that role. If Barea leaves, it would seemingly put Dallas in the market for a cheap replacement.
* Caron Butler: It certainly seems as though Butler is headed elsewhere. There was surprise from his camp that Dallas was not among the early callers Wednesday. Six teams did make contact and today the Chicago Tribune reported that the Chicago Bulls are favored by Butler. The story quoted one source close to Butler as saying: "I hope I don't have to leave." Butler has been working out in Chicago for much of the offseason and he is from nearby Racine, Wisc. Along with the Bulls, the Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs and New Jersey Nets also made contact. It is believed that Butler, despite coming off the serious knee injury, could command a $5 million starting salary. Butler has maintained that his No. 1 destination is Dallas and the Mavs have said they still have interest. On Wednesday, Butler told ESPNDallas.com: "I'm just in Chicago ready to defend the title or go get one."
* DeShawn Stevenson: The veteran certainly played himself into a good spot by being a total team player last season and then producing big-time throughout the playoffs. He had the undying respect of his teammates and brought a bull-dog mentality to defense and showed he could bury 3-pointers at key times. That's why his agent on Thursday said more than a dozen teams, including the Mavs, have shown interest in the shooting guard. Stevenson made $4 million last season, a number that wouldn't figure to go up and could be hard to match. When the Mavs traded for Rudy Fernandez on draft night, it seemed to have spelled the end for Stevenson in Dallas, but the Mavs have maintained that they would like him back.
* Brian Cardinal: "The Custodian" also proved to teams that he can still play some ball and serve a role on a championship team. He'll likely sit back and see who calls, but ultimately he's a perfect fit for the Mavs, who will place a premium on veterans they can sign to one-year, minimum deals. Dallas has put in an early call to show their interest in bringing Cardinal back.
* Peja Stojakovic: The sharpshooter said he wasn't interested in retiring after winning his first championship last season. Like Cardinal, Stojakovic is likely a minimum-salary player that the Mavs can decide to re-sign if they want to keep a dead-eye shooter on the bench for key moments.