Mavs Offering Gasol? Truth From Front Office

DALLAS - A report out of Bristol has the Mavs 'developing proposals' to steal center Marc Gasol from Memphis.' The truth about the report - and the general truth about Dallas' up-to-the-minute plans for max-level free agency:

The Dallas Mavericks, ESPN reports, "are developing proposals to present to Marc Gasol when the free-agency recruiting period opens July 1, according to multiple league sources.''

This can eventually be true. In its prematurity, it is presently false.

Two high-placed sources tell that the Mavs have not yet ranked and prioritized their wish list for this summer. DeAndre Jordan? LaMarcus Aldridge? Marc Gasol? Kevin Love? Restricted free agent Jimmy Butler? I can have my opinions, you can have yours, and a writer being paid by ESPN can have his.

But this can be nothing more than that. No one in the Mavs organization can have informed ESPN of the team's plans because the team's plans are as yet undefined.

At some point, Dallas (and other free-agency bidders) will have to formulate a priority list; they can't all tell all the stars that "We Love You Best.'' readers will recall us breaking the story of Dallas prioritizing Chris Paul over Dwight Howard two years ago ... and then CP3 pulled himself off the market, making Howard the top desire.

The same choices will have to be made as we approach July 1. Grizzlies All-Star center Gasol attended high school in Memphis and might very well remain attached to that town, thus taking him off the wish list of other clubs. But ...

"I haven't put all the scenarios on the table yet," Gasol said as Memphis was ousted by Golden State in the playoffs, an interesting take because he keeps the door ajar. "I think it's going to be a well-thought decision, something you feel good about and you move forward with. I don't see the future. I cannot imagine what it's going to be like."

That certainly doesn't sound "automatic.'' Maybe Gasol, a two-time All-Star and former NBA Defensive Player of the Year, wants to be courted. Maybe he's unhappy with the Grizzlies' progress. Maybe he doesn't like rhythm and blues. Maybe ESPN will be right with its "scoop'' that the Spurs, Lakers, Knicks and Mavericks all are "preparing bids.'' But hasn't ESPN (from a different cubicle) already reported that Gasol is staying in Memphis? And hasn't another Bristol cubicle attached Gasol to San Antonio? And hasn't yet another Bristol sent Aldridge to the ugly-ass river?

What's weird about this particular report is that generally speaking, "developing proposals'' sounds ... all wrong. Gasol can sign a maximum deal in Memphis this summer that would pay him about $109 million over five seasons. Or the seven-year veteran can take a four-year deal from a new team that will be worth about $81 million. There is another option: Recognize that the NBA salary cap is about to vault from from $67 million in 2015-16 to $89 million in the next season to $108 mil in 2017-18 ... and to therefore sign a two-year deal worth $40 million that would include a player option for the second season that would allow Gasol to re-enter free agency when he's ready to cash in again.

None of that really requires "developing proposals''; the max is the max.

Gasol has made it clear that his ties to (Memphis) -- "to the people of this city -- go beyond basketball with me.'' He's also made it clear that whatever his decision is, he does not wish it to be a "The Decision''-level spectacle.

The likelihood? As I've written on for 15 years, it's always a One-Percent Chance that a free agent leaves his home for a new city with less guaranteed dough (though the two-year option idea throws a bit of a curveball into the one percent). But this I know for sure: Gasol -- coming off the most productive season of his career, averaging 17.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.6 blocks while shooting 49.4 percent and playing top-notch defense along with unselfish offense -- is a max player. But is he ranked by Dallas above Aldridge, Jordan, Love and the rest?

They cannot know that answer in Bristol, Conn. Because they still don't know that answer down in the basement at 2500 Victory Ave.

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