The Deal With Mavs And Gasol? A 'Monta Path'

A week ago, wrote that Pau Gasol's price tag made him an 'unlikely' free-agent match with Dallas. Now ESPN is all but predicting the Lakers center will be one of the Mavs' two big summer signings. Is there a communication gap here? Not if you understand the chances of Gasol-to-Dallas following the path blazed a year ago by Monta Ellis.

Recall what we wrote on July 1, 2013 about Monta Ellis:

Monta Ellis has opted out of the final year of his contract and on July 1 will become a free agent next month. In doing so, he's forfeited a guaranteed $11 million – a gamble on himself that seems ill-advised unless one of his main objectives was simply to escape Milwaukee.

At a different time, in a different place, under the terms of a different CBA, Monta Ellis is an $11-mil player. But not with the Dallas Mavericks. Not now.

"Do The Mavs Like Monta Ellis?'' Absolutely. ... And at $11 million – almost certainly the basement of what Ellis will be hoping for – he'd be a terrible addition. But Dallas can like Ellis at the right price. And in the right situation.

Will teams line up to pay Ellis $11 million a year? I assume not. How close will his sales price come down to half of Dallas' easily available $14 mil? In other words, is Monta Ellis a fit at under $7 million?

Now we're talking.

So yes, they like Monta Ellis … but "like'' does not occur in a vacuum and cannot be explained within the simplicity of "list of PG's the Mavs like.'' I can tell you that waiting to see if Ellis becomes affordable is a page in Dallas' playbook here – but that's not a very proactive or aggressive approach. So it's not really a "July 1 approach.''

Thirteen days later, the Mavs had their non-prioritized agreement with Monta Ellis. And we were a little off on the $7-mil-year prediction; Dallas got him for $8 mil, four million less than his price tag. ... So NOT as a "priority" or as a "pursuit" in the July 1 free-agency-doors-open sense of the word.

Which brings us, almost exactly a year later, to Pau Gasol.

Debates for another day: Does he start at center alongside Dirk, putting up huge offensive numbers but making the Mavs defense even worse than last year? Is he Dirk's backup at the 4? Is he in injury-related physical decline?

The debate for today: Is Dallas "planning to pursue" Gasol? Do the Mavs "like" Pau Gasol? How little is he willing to get paid?

The 7-foot Gasol is a four-time All-Star who is about to turn 34. He put up numbers last year (17.4 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists) but played in only 60 games for the Lakers.

But "pursuit" of him? Kinda. After Dallas gets done "pursuing" the big fish (LeBron, if he'll listen, and Carmelo for certain). And after Dallas, almost surely failing there, turns to second-tier standouts like Luol Deng and Trevor Ariza, yeah. Oh, and after centers they'd rather have - Monroe, Gortat and Tyson Chandler - are rendered unavailable.

And most of all, Dallas' "pursuit" of Gasol happens when his price tag - as of last season $19.3 million - plummets like Monta's once did.

So yes, the Mavs "like" Pau Gasol. … but as with Monta, "like'' does not occur in a vacuum and cannot be explained within the simplicity of claiming "Dallas will pursue.'' Because if Dallas' "like'' of Gasol is tested to the point where they have to budge from their Plan Powder guidelines? Or if one of the big fish comes here? Or if a prioritized center comes here? No, they don't "like'' Pau that much.

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