It has been a quick and graceless fall for the Dallas Mavericks since they shocked the Big Three and the world in the summer of 2011. Only Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion remain from the roster that won the NBA Championship, and there is a chance that Dirk is the only holdover left standing come Opening Night 2013.
Mark Cuban has promised that he and Donnie Nelson will put a title contending team together over the next two years. It’s hard to be that optimistic considering the flop that was the Deron Williams courtship last summer, but the Mavs front office delivered the ultimate prize before when the Dirk window appeared shut.
As we turn our attention to power forward, it’s important to remember that the big German is not going anywhere for a few years. That eliminates players like Josh Smith and David West from consideration, since they will command salaries far beyond what the Mavericks are willing to pay for a Dirk backup.
1/1A) Brandan Wright/Elton Brand - There was very little wrong with this tandem behind Dirk last season. Wright played the center position primarily in his last two seasons with the Mavs, but at 6’9” hopefully he rotates more toward the PF spot in 2013-14. Brand on the other hand was a serviceable backup to Nowitzki at times, and he won’t cost much as the end of his career is drawing near.
Cuban and Donnie must ponder how much they are willing to pay for the gamble that Wright’s 11.3 pts, 5.5 trb, and 23.7 mp per game averages in March and April are the new norm for the 25 year old, and not the 6.8/3.2/14.5 he produced over the season’s first 4 months. Tim MacMahon points out that Dallas can afford to keep Brandan even if they go over the cap to do so, but that would mean Wright and the Mavs both being comfortable with a gentleman’s agreement while the market plays out. That’s a lot of trust for Wright to give Dallas, and vice versa.
Brand wouldn’t mind returning to Big D for a playoff run, but how likely is such a run if CP3 and/or D12 don’t sign here? It depends on how solid a plan B the front office has. Elton won’t get much offered in the way of money or years from any other team; however, don’t count on him staying should a championship contender come calling.
2) Carl Landry - Today (6/26) he opted out of the last of a two year deal he signed with the Warriors last off season. Playing for Golden State, he averaged 10.8 pts and 6 trb per game. His 17.7 career PER indicates that he’s an above average option coming off of the bench, but it shouldn’t be expected that any team will give him a chance at a regular starting job.
Would 3 years at $3 million per be enough to snag Landry? He left $4 million on the table by walking away from the Warriors, so such an offer would be doubling that money and then some. Still, I’m not sure the Mavericks will stick around if the bidding reaches the $12 million overall threshold.
3) DeJuan Blair - Blair has played more games against the Mavericks (16) than any other team in the NBA for his career. Now he may be recruited to bring cheers instead of boo’s to the AAC. He voiced his frustrations with the limited role he played with San Antonio in 2012-13, essentially announcing his departure from the Spurs as far back as late April.
If Landry was unhappy as a bench player with the Western Conference Champs, then how happy would he be with the same opportunity on a team that missed the playoffs? An increase in minutes played from the 14 he saw per game last season should scratch that itch. Of course, Carlisle will only give those minutes to Blair if he earns them.
He’s younger (24) than anyone else on this list, so there’s still potential for him to recapture the energy and fire that drove him to a 17.5 PER average in his first three season before last years 14.6. If he wants a starting gig, then it’s not happening in Dallas. If he just wants more minutes, then what better place to haunt the Spurs than with their chief rival?
4) Andray Blatche - He was signed as a reclamation project in Brooklyn after the Washington Wizards benched him for being out of shape and then waived him with their amnesty clause. The second chance paid off, as Andray’s PER was a career high 21.9 in 2012-13. His per game scoring (10.3) was the third highest of his 8 years in the NBA, but his per 36 minute scoring (19.5) was tops for his career.
Blatche played as a backup to Brook Lopez, and started a handful of games when Lopez injured his foot. At 6’11” he’d be a more sizeable option to rotate between the PF and C spots than Wright.
Blatche will be 27 when the 2013-14 season tips off, so he still has plenty left in the tank provided he stays motivated. He hopes to return to Brooklyn, but they are handcuffed by the salary cap and can’t offer much money. That being said, Washington still owes him $16 million from his amnestied deal, so he may be willing to take the “pay cut” to stay with the Nets.