There hasn't been much talk yet about which teams will compete hardest for the two big Wizards free agents. There's an unspoken thought that someone will, but that team hadn't emerged.
Until now, it seems. Two different rumors suggest the Dallas Mavericks have both Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza high on their wish list.
First, from ESPN's Tim MacMahon and Marc Stein:
They also have significant interest in Washington'sMarcin Gortat, whom they recruited as a restricted free agent in 2009, signing him to an offer sheet that was surprisingly matched by the Orlando Magic.
Sources, however, say the Mavericks fear they'll be priced out of the hunt to pry Gortat from the Wizards, who have ample space under the salary cap and are interested in keeping the 29-year-old Gortat as part of a young core of the team that broke the franchise's five-year postseason drought and advanced to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Dallas' rumored interest isn't surprising. They signed Gortat to an offer sheet way back in 2009 when he was initially Dwight Howard's backup, but Orlando matched. They have a huge hole at center despite Samuel Dalembert's halfway-decent play and have ample cap space to fill it depending on Dirk Nowitzki's new deal. Gortat is an ideal fit and there aren't too many other options besides perhaps Pau Gasol.
The Wizards surely want to keep Gortat, but Dallas is going to create a market. They must be careful not to overpay.
As for Ariza, here's something interesting from Dallas Basketball's Mike Fisher:
NBA sources tell DallasBasketball.com that the Mavs have Trevor Ariza high on their list of July 1 shopping targets. This is, of course, at a level beneath "big fish.'' But once you get beyond LeBron/Melo territory and into Deng/Ariza territory ... Ariza becomes a get.
Shawn Marion is a free agent, so Dallas definitely has a need for a defensive-oriented wing like Ariza. I'd imagine they'd prefer Luol Deng because of his versatility, but should Deng become too pricey, Ariza is a nice backup option at the very least.
The Mavericks can definitely clear up enough cap space to make strong offers for either player. They have just over $30 million committed, per Sham Sports, which in theory gives them $33 million in cap space. A lot of that will go to free agent Dirk Nowitzki -- he can make nearly $25 million next year, but I could also see him taking a pay cut to help his team out. Marion and Vince Carter have large cap holds that must be removed, but that's certainly doable. Should Nowitzki take $15 million or so and those cap holds get renounced, that's over $15 million available to spend on Gortat or Ariza.
The Wizards do have the advantage of timing here, which is a positive. Dallas has to negotiate with Nowitzki first and then make a decision on Marion and Carter, whereas the Wizards have made Gortat in particular their top priority once July 1 hits.
Still, this isn't the last we'll hear from Dallas. They are a threat to swipe either player and can certainly at least drive up their prices.