Dan Feldman

DALLAS, TX - FEBRUARY 03:  Hassan Whiteside #21 of the Miami Heat takes a shot against JaVale McGee #11 of the Dallas Mavericks in the first half at American Airlines Center on February 3, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Mavericks’ reported Plan A: Mike Conley and Hassan Whiteside

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The Mavericks, upon agreeing to terms with DeAndre Jordan last summer, believed they situated themselves as a legitimate contender to sign Kevin Durant.

Oops.

Jordan returned to the Clippers, and Dallas rode a hastily assembled roster as far as it could (to a first-round loss). That probably won’t sway Durant.

Assuming it doesn’t, Dallas has a new more realistic plan: Mike Conley and Hassan Whiteside.

Tim MacMahon and Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Dallas Mavericks expect to be granted a meeting in the opening hours of free agency with Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside, one of the Mavericks’ two primary targets this summer, sources told ESPN.com.

Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley is the other top target for the Mavs, according to sources, as Dallas attempts to construct a core that will allow the franchise to be competitive during veteran Dirk Nowitzki‘s twilight and beyond.

That’d be a fantastic coup for Dallas. Conley, Wesley Matthews, Dirk Nowitzki and Whiteside would be about as good a core as the Mavericks can get. That’s how you maximize Nowitzki’s remaining years.

And it might actually be realistic.

The Heat don’t have Whiteside’s Bird Rights, and they also want to re-sign Dwyane Wade. It won’t be easy managing that.

The Grizzlies are reportedly concerned about Conley leaving. That’s a change in tone.

Signing Conley and Whiteside to max deals – surely what it’d take to land them – would leave about $13 million to sign Nowitzki and a small forward. Justin Anderson might be ready for a bigger role, but Dallas would likely also target a safer choice to provide insurance.

With that roster, a decent veteran would probably be tempted by the cap space Nowitzki doesn’t want. Then, Dallas would be rolling.

Of course, there’s a lot of wishful thinking here. Plan A might work, but it probably won’t. What’s Plan B?

Report: Thunder to guarantee Ersan Ilyasova’s contract

BOSTON, MA - JANUARY 06:  Kelly Olynyk #41 of the Boston Celtics defends Ersan Ilyasova #23 of the Detroit Pistons during the first quarter at TD Garden on January 6, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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This is the best indication yet the Thunder believe they can re-sign Kevin Durant.

Ersan Ilyasova – acquired from the Magic in the Serge Ibaka trade – will make $8.4 million season unless he’s waived by July 1. If dropped by then, his salary is just $400,000 guaranteed.

Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman:

If Durant re-signs, the Thunder wouldn’t have cap space anyway. All they’d accomplish by waiving Ilyasova is saving money and losing a useful role player (maybe their starting power forward).

If Durant leaves, Oklahoma City might want to free the extra cap space to pursue other free agents. (There’s a chance they’d keep Ilyasova, anyway. He’s not bad value at $8.4 million. But they’d probably prioritize wing help and someone better fit to play up-tempo with Russell Westbrook and Victor Oladipo.

Because the Thunder have to decide on Ilyasova before Durant likely makes his decision, they’re signaling how they feel about their odds of keeping Durant.

Bradley Beal declines Team USA invite

LAS VEGAS, NV - AUGUST 13:  Bradley Beal #28 of the 2015 USA Basketball Men's National Team smiles as he brings the ball up the court during a USA Basketball showcase at the Thomas & Mack Center on August 13, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Update: Beal declined:

 

Of the 12 roster spots on Team USA for the Olympics, 10 are known to be filled.

USA Basketball is apparently waiting on Bradley Beal for one of the others.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Wizards reportedly plan to offer Beal a five-year max contract July 1, but it could be a while until they’d make it official. Because Beal’s cap hold is about $7.5 million lower than a max salary, Washington wants to spend that $7.5 million first then exceed the cap to re-sign Beal using his Bird Rights.

But what if Beal gets hurt in Rio or preparing for the Games? Might Washington pull the offer?

I wouldn’t blame Beal, who has never earned more than his rookie-scale salary, for not wanting to find out.

And I wouldn’t blame the Wizards for not promising to pay him in that scenario. As long as they’re clear about their intentions, they can let him make an informed decision.

Ron Baker (Knicks) and Gary Payton II (Rockets) headline undrafted players signing contracts with NBA teams

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Ron Baker #31 of the Wichita State Shockers reacts in the first half against the Arizona Wildcats during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Some intriguing players went undrafted, but many of them are still getting NBA contracts.

Ron Baker:

Gary Payton II:

Robert Carter:

James Webb III:

Yogi Ferrell:

Isaiah Taylor:

Kyle Wiltjer:

Sheldon McClellan:

Danuel House:

A rule of thumb: Longer contracts are almost always better for teams in these situations. The final years rarely have any guarantees. So, if the player pans out, he’s locked into a below-market deal. If he doesn’t, he gets waived and earns nothing for those additional years.

That’s why teams offer partial guarantees in the first season – to incentivize the player to accept more years.

Many of these players will wind up in training camp, cut then assigned to the D-League. But for now, NBA teams have locked them down.

Report: Warriors eying Al Horford, Hassan Whiteside, Nicolas Batum if they don’t get Kevin Durant

ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 22:  Al Horford #15 of the Atlanta Hawks drives against Andrew Bogut #12 of the Golden State Warriors at Philips Arena on February 22, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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The Warriors’ plan to chase Kevin Durant is well-known.

But Golden State might also be willing to break up its 73-win team for less-productive free agents than Durant (everyone else besides LeBron James).

Marcus Thompson of The Mercury News:

According to sources familiar with free agent talks, the Warriors are looking at Al Horford, Joakim Noah and even Hassan Whiteside

Free agents Nicolas Batum and Evan Turner are among the players being considered at small forward, per sources, if the Warriors don’t get Kevin Durant.

Horford would be an awesome fit with the Warriors. His defense would keep them strong on that end, and he’d be far more of an offensive threat than Andrew Bogut.

Noah works defensively if he’s willing to take a discount, but his offense has regressed significantly. At his age, he might be better off without playing huge minutes.

Whiteside would be a major talent upgrade, but either he or Golden State’s defensive system would have to change. That’s a major undertaking.

Batum would be an upgrade over Harrison Barnes, but Barnes’ ability to defend bigger opponents makes the Warriors’ death lineup click. Again, this would be a big adjustment on something known to work.

Turner… I don’t quite get unless he’s willing to take less and Golden State plans to add him to its existing core rather than disrupting the core for him.

Horford and Durant would be a no-brainers. The rest would require more deliberation. All in all, keeping the band together — even if the supporting cast is aging — wouldn’t be so bad.