Once upon a time, the Dallas Mavericks were heavily criticized for passing on polished Kansas prospect Paul Pierce to draft some goofy German kid who wasn’t ready for the NBA.

Dirk Nowitzki turned out to be a decent player, to say the least. So did Pierce. They’re both destined to spend eternity in Springfield, Mass., the site of the basketball Hall of Fame.

But Nowitzki and Pierce both believe they’ve still got some good basketball left in those legs that have logged 16 NBA seasons. Ages after they went back to back in the 1998 draft – the ninth and 10th picks, after forgettable players such as Michael Olowokandi, Raef LaFrentz and Robert “Tractor” Traylor went off the board – there’s a possibility that Pierce and Nowitzki could play together.

A case can be made that signing “The Truth” to a short-term deal is the best realistic scenario for the Mavs to upgrade at small forward.

That’s assuming that the Mavs can’t pull off the miracle of signing LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony. And that the Houston Rockets will indeed exercise their right to match any offer made to Chandler Parsons, as the Utah Jazz will with Gordon Hayward.

That’d leave Luol Deng and Trevor Ariza among the Mavs’ Plan B targets, and they’re looking for long-term deals with eight-figure salaries. Would the Mavs better be off paying a steep price to one of those players for four seasons or making a lesser commitment to Pierce in salary and years?

Pierce, who turns 37 in October, can still play. He isn’t going to add to his 10 All-Star appearances, but he was a productive member of a playoff team last season, averaging 13.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 28 minutes per game for the Brooklyn Nets. He still has the offensive skills to flourish in Rick Carlisle’s flow system next to 7-foot shooter extraordinaire Nowitzki and dynamic driver Monta Ellis.