In effect, the new NBA season starts today.
That’s because July 1 is the first day of free agency, when all 30 NBA teams have freedom to talk to every free agent from every team.
The Mavs, for the fourth summer in a row, have among the most cap space to work with in the league. Optimism is high this summer, though, that Dallas will be able to land a big-name free agent to give its core a a boost alongside Dirk Nowitzki and up-and-comer Chandler Parsons.
But before we begin worrying too much about players the Mavs could land, it’s important to refresh ourselves with who the Mavericks already have under contract. That list, though relatively short, includes Nowitzki, Parsons, Devin Harris, Raymond Felton, and Dwight Powell. Dallas also holds the rights to international point guard Petteri Koponen, in addition to its two draft choices in wing Justin Anderson and Indian center Satnam Singh.
The good news for Dallas is, even though the club has plenty of roster spots to fill, the Mavs might have more wiggle room than the team had previously thought. Ken Berger of CBS Sports reported last night that the salary cap could be $2 million higher than expected. Although that might seem like just a chunk of change, $2 million could make a huge difference when pursuing players who, on the open market, might demand a high salary.
Regardless of how negotiations go, however, no free agents — unrestricted or restricted — can sign a contract until July 9. The league has a mandatory moratorium period running from July 1 to July 8, a time meant exclusively for negotiation. During this period, teams cannot publicly comment on negotiations with any players, even if they were on the roster this past season. However, players are permitted to comment on such things.
That is to say it’s important to keep in mind that, regardless of what is said during the moratorium, nothing is official until pen is put to paper on July 9 (or anytime afterward). Until then, verbal agreements are strictly that: verbal. It’s similar to NCAA football recruiting, for those who follow the college scene.
Based on the Mavs’ current roster make up, however, it is possible to speculate on the types of players Dallas will pursue this summer. For starters, the Mavericks will need a couple wing players, as currently the only true wings on the roster are Parsons and Anderson, but Devin Harris played plenty of backup shooting guard last season, as well. In addition, Dallas will need to fill out its center rotation and perhaps find a backup at power forward for Nowitzki.
One thing is for sure, though, and that is the Mavs are among the best clubs at filling out a roster with quality depth at every position. Dallas has had one of the deepest teams in the NBA for what seems like the bulk of Nowitzki’s career, and it’s a huge point of pride for the organization. Hanging in every player’s roster is a card that lists what the Mavericks are best at, and the first item on the list is the Mavericks have the best bench in the NBA.
It would make sense that Dallas would always be able to find solid rotation players, as Rick Carlisle’s mantra is “stay ready.” Time and time again, Carlisle turns to his reserve players, and more often than not those players are able to produce. Carlisle has been lauded throughout his career as a coach who works well with players on the deep bench, and it’s led to several unexpected contributions from unexpected players at big moments in Dallas over the years.
Until July 9 rolls around, there will be plenty of reports, plenty of sources, and plenty of verbal agreements. Until then, we really won’t know what any NBA roster will truly look like next season. But in the meantime, sit back, relax, and enjoy the drama. The league’s free agency period is the most exciting in professional sports, giving truth to the idea that basketball does indeed never stop.