Raja Bell hasn’t quite created a LeBron-level free agency frenzy, but several teams have expressed interest in the veteran shooting guard.
The Mavs are one of them, Bell said during Tuesday’s appearance on Galloway & Company. The feeling is mutual.
“Dallas is definitely in the top three for me,” said Bell, who mentioned that Miami and Orlando are also among his preferred destinations due to having so much family in Florida.
Bell, who turns 34 in September, has fond memories of spending the 2002-03 season with the Mavs. He said he and his wife enjoyed the city, and he has a lot of respect for the way Mark Cuban runs the franchise. He also wants to play for a winner after not participating in the last two postseasons.
NBA front-office sources told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein that Bell has been contacted by several other contending teams, including Boston, San Antonio and Portland. He has also been personally lobbied by longtime former nemesis Kobe Bryant, who reached out to Bell recently urging him to join forces with Bryant with the Lakers. But sources say L.A.’s recent agreement to sign guard Steve Blake as well as its intention to re-sign perennial playoff stalwart Derek Fisher leaves Bryant’s team with little spending money to compete with so many suitors.
Bell missed almost all of last season after undergoing surgery on his left (non-shooting) wrist, but he reports that it feels fine. He’s taken hits on it during workouts without any problems, and it doesn’t limit his weight training.
Bell has started for the last several years but said it’s not important for him to retain that status as long as he has a role. If he comes to Dallas, he’d be joining a crowded wing mix that includes Caron Butler, Shawn Marion, Jason Terry, Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones, although it’s possible that one or two of those players could be moved in trades.
“Where I’m at now, it’s not so much whether I start or not,” Bell said. “I’ve had that conversation with myself and with my wife. Sometimes that means more to your family and your friends than it does to you. It’s not about starting necessarily. It’s about being able to contribute and being a piece of the puzzle that they need.”
It’s easy to see why several contenders have touched base with Bell. Who couldn’t use a career .411 3-point shooter who prides himself on playing lockdown D? He’s basically a combination of the best attributes of Mavs benchwarmers Matt Carroll and DeShawn Stevenson.
“The good thing about what I do, I think, is that there are not a whole lot of guys who do it,” Bell said. “I can always hang my hat on if there are 100 shooters on the team, I can be the one shooter who will go out there and just try to die to keep my man from getting a bucket.”
Bell sidestepped a question about what kind of money it’d take for him to return to Dallas. If the answer is the bi-annual exception of a little more than $2 million, he’d make a nice addition for the Mavs.