10:07 PM CDT on Monday, June 25, 2007
By EDDIE SEFKO / The Dallas Morning News
For the moment, the Mavericks have Moe Ager 每 seldom-used and unproven as a rookie last season 每 penciled into their starting lineup.
That's because they don't know for sure the status of two of their swingmen 每 Jerry Stackhouse and Devean George.
Both of those situations will be resolved in the next week. George's agent, Mark Bartelstein, said Monday he will meet with his client in the coming days to figure out whether George will exercise his option for a second season with the Mavericks at $2.16 million. The other option is to terminate the deal and become an unrestricted free agent.
"Devean loved it in Dallas and he loved playing for Avery Johnson," Bartelstein said. "But as we all know, this is a business."
The Mavericks will wait for the decision. Early on, it was believed George wanted to come back to the Mavericks. But the lure of free agency is tough to pass up.
Stackhouse's situation is slightly clearer. The sixth man becomes an unrestricted free agent Sunday, meaning he can sign anywhere in the league.
However, only two teams will have significant money under the salary cap and neither Charlotte nor Atlanta makes much sense for Stackhouse, who can still score with the best of them but doesn't fit the profile for building or rebuilding teams like the Bobcats and Hawks.
Since it is unlikely anyone will be able to offer Stackhouse more than the mid-level salary exception (expected to be roughly $6 million), the Mavericks figure to be able to offer him more than anybody else.
Assuming neither side comes in with unrealistic expectations, a middle ground likely will be found quickly after the free-agent period opens. Teams are prohibited from discussing specific free agents until Sunday.
"There's so many free agents, plus people want to see what the cap number is and all that stuff," Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said. "There are a lot of variables. A lot of guys really deserve the mid-level or higher and there's not that much money to go around. So it'll be interesting to see what happens. And we're always there to scoop them up and write the checks."
It is unlikely the status of either Stackhouse or George 每 or any free agents the Mavs may pursue from other teams 每 will have an impact on Thursday's draft. The Mavericks, with three second-round picks (34, 50 and 60), are likely to take at least one and perhaps two international players who likely would play next season in Europe.
Trade winds: In advance of the draft, trade speculation is heating up and one of the names mentioned frequently is Greg Buckner. Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson each acknowledged that numerous teams have inquired about Buckner.
It's possible the Mavericks may be considering packaging Buckner with one or more of their second rounders to move up in the draft.
"Everybody's going to be talking until the draft," Cuban said. "And once they make their decisions, they fall in love with who they think they might be able to get. Then guys fall into the second round and people are going to be making all these great offers to get No. 34 and No. 50 and even No. 60.
"That's just the way it works. Just like last year and the year before. By being patient we got guys that we never thought we could get."
Looks like the earlier information about George already opting out is wrong. Will someone offer him more money? And if they don't will he be the player we had before his knee injury?