Cuban opens free agency with Harris dinner

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s first order of business in free agency was to meet point guard Devin Harris for dinner.

Well, unless he called Dirk Nowitzki and Vince Carter en route to the restaurant. There were also plans to contact Shawn Marion soon after free agency officially opened at 11:01 p.m. CT Monday night.

Cuban and other members of the Dallas front office will reach out to the agents of dozens of other free agents late Monday and in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. These phone calls will be feelers, considering the Mavs hope to use their approximately $26 million in salary-cap space to sign Carmelo Anthony in addition to the certainty of re-signing Nowitzi to a to-be-negotiated hometown-discount deal.

The Mavs are scheduled to visit with Anthony on Wednesday afternoon in Dallas. They are third in the perennial All-Star forward’s lineup after the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets and before the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks.

Rockets small forward Chandler Parsons is among the players in whom the Mavs registered interest, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported. Parsons is a restricted free agent, but Houston could decline to match an offer if it is successfully recruiting Anthony.

While the Mavs hope to keep all of their key free agents, it’s unlikely, particularly if they replace Marion as the starting small forward.

It appears that Harris is the priority, which would make sense considering that inconsistent Raymond Felton is the only veteran point guard on the roster after arriving in the six-player deal that sent last season’s starter, Jose Calderon, to the Knicks.

However, the Mavs ultimately might not be able to offer Harris more than the cap-room exception of approximately $2.7 million per year for up to two seasons. Harris has said he’s seeking a deal in the three-year, $9 million area, similar to the offer he agreed to with Dallas last summer before the discovery that he needed complicated toe surgery, leading to him accepting a one-year, minimum-salary contract.

Carter and Marion are expected to draw interest from contenders, with their price tag potentially nearing the midlevel exception.

A team source confirmed that the Mavs reached out to Sacramento Kings restricted free-agent point guard Isaiah Thomas but denied reports that Dallas was "going hard" after him. The source insisted that the team's hope is to re-sign Harris.