The Mavericks are eyeing Heat center Hassan Whiteside and Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley, making those two players their top targets as free agency approaches, according to Tim MacMahon and Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Both players are expected to command maximum-salary contracts, and Dallas is willing to pay that price for either player, sources tell the ESPN duo.
Per ESPN’s report, the Mavericks expect to have the opportunity to meet with Whiteside during the opening hours of free agency in July. The Heat have been considered the frontrunner to re-sign their pending free agent, but Dallas will be among the teams given the chance to make a pitch to him once the recruiting period begins. MacMahon and Stein identify the Trail Blazers as another club expected to make a push for Whiteside.
As for Conley, he may be open to leaving Memphis if the Grizzlies are unwilling to offer him a fifth year. Because the Grizzlies hold the point guard’s Bird Rights, they’re the only club that can offer five years instead of four, and Conley wants them to do so if he ends up re-signing, according to MacMahon and Stein. A source tells the ESPN duo that San Antonio and Dallas are among the teams that would appeal to the 28-year-old if he leaves Memphis — his interest in the Mavericks is in large part due to his respect for head coach Rick Carlisle.
As the Mavs pursue Conley and Whiteside, it’s worth considering that Conley’s maximum salary over a four-year deal figures to be about $20MM more than Whiteside’s, since he has a few more years of NBA experience.
MacMahon also notes (on Twitter) that technically Kevin Durant remains the Mavericks’ top target in free agency, but suggests that the team is being realistic about its chances of luring KD to Dallas.