OJ Mayo

Eight or nine players from the Mavs’ final roster will be free agents, depending on whether O.J. Mayo exercises his option to return for a $4.2 million salary or tests the market for the second straight summer. Almost to a man, they say they’d like to be back in Dallas, but that’s not the way the business works.

The Mavs, depending on Mayo’s decision and the salary cap figure the NBA sets, will have somewhere between $13 million and $18.7 million in spending money this summer — unless they create more space with salary-dump deals. They need significant upgrades to have a serious chance of competing at the level they had become accustomed to over the previous dozen seasons.

“I’ve been saying it all season long: It’s a big summer for us,” said Dirk Nowitzki, who is the only player guaranteed to return to Dallas next season. “We’ll see what Mark and Donnie can come up with. They’re always geniuses at making stuff happen. We need a big summer, obviously, to compete again for the championship and not for the eighth seed.”

– Reported by Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas