New York Knicks All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony will be one of the most prized free agents this summer. Rumor has it that the Dallas Mavericks are planning to make a pitch to Melo. Per ESPN:

Dallas did not make the short list of teams given the chance to sit down with LeBron in the summer of 2010, but that didn’t stop Mark Cuban from lobbying LeBron (James’) people behind the scenes. Rest assured that the Mavs will run out that ground ball again, just in case.

When it comes to Melo, meanwhile, what you hear is that the Mavs are quietly optimistic they will be on that short list of teams granted a face-to-face visit with the New York Knicks’ scoring machine, just as they were with Dwight Howard last summer. The sense in Big D is that Melo will give them a legit look.

It’s another ground ball that the Mavs are obligated to run out because (Dirk) Nowitzki is still their best player, which is something team officials acknowledge is too much to ask of the future Hall of Famer after 16 seasons. So the Mavs are bound to pursue Melo until they’re told they have no shot, because players of that caliber are rarely available and are hard to get when they are.

Some inevitably will wonder how well Melo would actually fit. Nowitzki says he can play with anybody, but you have to ask: Are their games really different enough? The Mavs, furthermore, are already an elite offensive team. They need a dependable goalie at the rim first and foremost, along with infusions of speed and toughness, then more shooting. Little of that falls within Melo’s skill set.

The Mavs, though, have to start thinking about their post-Nowitzki existence. Dallas’ Mr. Reliable, like it or not, can’t play on forever. Which is why, if they have any shot at Melo, they’re obligated to explore it.

Which other players will Dallas pursue in free agency?

The most interesting whisper, at this early stage, is that the Mavs intend to be at the front of the line to try to reacquire Tyson Chandler should the Knicks make their defensive anchor available via trade.

Letting Chandler go remains the most fiercely debated aspect of Cuban’s decision to break up the Mavs’ championship team, but word is they’ll indeed pursue what many will regard as an overdue reunion.

On the subject of using their cap space to upgrade via trade as opposed to outright signings, Milwaukee’s Larry Sanders remains another potential target after an absolute nightmare season. Monta (Ellis) has never been better since the Mavs imported him from Milwaukee; could life with Nowitzki, (Rick) Carlisle and Cuban have a similar effect on Sanders?

I initially thought, along those same lines, that the Mavs would be among the teams willing to take the Lance Stephenson gamble this summer, but sources familiar with the team’s thinking say that’s a dice roll Dallas isn’t willing to entertain. The more likely wing target in free agency, sources say, is far more dependable Luol Deng.