While fans might have become intoxicated with talk of landing LeBron James or another high-caliber free-agent, the odds were stacked against the Mavs, who have no cap space and must work a sign-and-trade to acquire a free agent that will command more than the mid-level exception ($5.765 million).
As the Mavs move into the next phase of free agency, which amounts to targeting one or more players to fit in the MLE, plus other low-salary free agents (and, don't forget about Erick Dampier's non-guaranteed contract that the Mavs will try to trade for an impact player), let's take a look at what the club's roster looks like as of today:
Guards (8): Jason Kidd ($8.5M); Caron Butler ($10.8M); Jason Terry ($10.4M); Roddy Beaubois ($1.15M); DeShawn Stevenson ($4.15M); J.J. Barea ($1.8M); Matt Carroll ($4.3M); Dominique Jones (not yet signed).
Centers (2): Brendan Haywood ($7.0M); Erick Dampier ($13M).
By the start of the 2010-11 season, the roster could look a lot different or virtually the same. At the least, Dampier will not make $13 million. Because his contract is non-guaranteed, he will either be traded (and than waived by the team he's traded to) or cut. Dampier can then re-sign with the Mavs -- or any other team -- at a greatly reduced rate. Butler, Stevenson, Barea and even Terry and Carroll are trade chips to varying degrees, with Butler's expiring contract and Dampier's non-guaranteed contract at the top of the list.
We know the Mavs have had at least initial talks regarding unrestricted free agents Rasual Butler and Matt Barnes. Udonis Haslem is a target, but it appears the Miami Heat have found a way to keep him.
Dallas has also shown interest in a potential trade for Minnesota forward/center Al Jefferson.
The rest of July, and even beyond, will be an interesting time. The Mavs have little to spend in a pool of free agents that don't offer much excitement. Dallas boasts attractive trade chips that they will try to make work, but hold no guarantees.