DALLAS (AP) - Jason Terry has figured out a simple way for the Dallas Mavericks to bring back the entire roster to defend their NBA title.
While everyone was going through their exit interviews _ still caught up in the thrill of the first championship for the organization and for almost everyone involved _ Terry urged Dirk Nowitzki to go with him to team president Donnie Nelson’s office and lobby for the immediate re-signing of Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler, J.J. Barea and the rest of the free agents-to-be.
“Some checks’ll be bigger than others,” Terry told Nowitzki, “but we’ve got to keep this thing intact.”
If only it was that easy.
Even if the Mavs wanted to keep everyone, the players would have to agree. Chandler and Barea especially raised their value this postseason and deserve to see how much they can get on the open market. Butler is a free agent for the first time, too. Backups Brian Cardinal, DeShawn Stevenson and Peja Stojakovic also might want to see if some team will offer them bigger bucks or a bigger role.
Then there’s the huge obstacle of not yet knowing what the salary cap will be because the collective bargaining agreement is expiring.
“In an ideal world, we keep it intact and we make another run,” Nelson said. “None of us knows what the market is going to be like. We’re in a holding pattern.”
Everything starts with Chandler, who is likely to be near the top of the free agent crop.
He’s an athletic 7-footer who plays a traditional big man’s game, plus at 28 is still in the prime of his career. He’s coming off both a world championship for Team USA and the NBA title, hailed as the heart-and-soul leader of both clubs.
Most of all, he’s healthy after several injury-marred seasons that included trades and skittish teams worried about his medical history. He appreciates that the Mavs took a chance on him and loved everything about this season.
But, business is business.
“You hate that it comes like this … but that’s how it goes,” he said.
Chandler said his dad recently told him his bond with his 2010-11 teammates will last forever. He agreed, calling his teammates “my brothers.”
He also said that being on another team wouldn’t change that.
“We’re all not going to be here next year. That’s the reality of the situation,” Chandler said. “But we’ll all be connected throughout our career.”