I’ve been having serious basketball withdrawals lately. The NBA Finals turned out to be a slaughter and the rest of the playoffs was boring compared to the heart pounding first round. But free agency is just around the corner and there will be a lot of excitement going on around the NBA in July, and hopefully some right here in Dallas.
I’ve mentioned several times that the Dallas Mavericks have a bunch of needs heading into July. If Jerry Jones were running this team he’d probably be thinking “I pushed the NBA champions to seven games, I don’t have to change a thing!” But that’s not how the Mavs operate (THANK GOD). They’ll have a ton of cap space and there will be some shaking up of the roster. An upgrade at small forward is certainly on the Mavs priority list, but we can’t forget about the center spot.
Samuel Dalembert and DeJuan Blair had a nice series against the Spurs, and Brandan Wright put together a good year. But let’s face it, we all know the Mavs are at their best when they have a legitimate center paired with Dirk Nowitzki. An upgrade in that department would go a long way in helping the Dallas make some noise in the playoffs again.
So what are the options? Dallas native Chris Bosh is probably near the top the free agent crop this year. After getting murdered by San Antonio, the Big Three’s future in Miami seems cloudy and maybe Bosh could look to move on to a team where he can take on a prominent scoring role again. But that team isn’t the Mavericks. Bosh is a nice player and I believe he has been vastly underrated during his four years in Miami, but he’s just not a fit in Dallas. His game is a lot like Dirk’s in the sense that they are both seven footers that can spread the floor and nail jumpers. Dallas needs someone who can play closer to the basket to compliment what Nowitzki does, not someone who has a bunch of similarities.
There’s Pau Gasol who had a nice, but injury riddled, season with the Lakers. Gasol has been mentioned in trade rumors for the better part of two years now and I’d be shocked if he re-signs with LA. While Gasol can also spread the floor a bit with his shooting, he can play much closer to the basket and has a better post game than Bosh. It seems like a good fit, but pairing Dirk and Gasol together could become a defensive nightmare. The Mavs already struggled on defense last year, and a Gasol and Dirk defensive combo could make it look like a layup line out there.
One of the more intriguing names is Marcin Gortat. The Mavs were interested in Gortat a few years ago when he was a restricted free agent with the Orlando Magic and even signed him to an offer sheet. But Orlando matched and Gortat stayed on as Dwight Howard‘s back up. Now,the Mavs have another chance to go after him again, and it might not be a bad idea.
Last year for the Wizards, Gortat averaged 13.2 points per game with 9.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. He’s not a bad rim protector and seems like the type of center that would work great with Dirk. With the shortage of legitimate big men in the league, I don’t think Gortat will come cheap, but I’m sure the Mavs will be taking a long and hard look at him.
There are a few other names out there like Spencer Hawes and Emeka Okafor, but neither of those would make an enormous impact. On the trade market, Dallas could theoritcally make a push for Larry Sanders of the Milwaukee Bucks. Sanders is a talent and the kind of big guy that the Mavs would love, but he’s been a bit of a headcase which could make this unlikely.
But we all know that the most fun scenario would be the Mavs landing Tyson Chandler in a trade with the Knicks. If Carmelo Anthony were to leave New York, Phil Jackson could opt to have a fire sale, which could open the door for the Mavs to re-acquire the best center in franchise history. But a lot would have to happen for that to go down.
Personally, I think the best fit for the Mavs would be Gortat. He’s not a star, but he’s a very good center that has the potentially to play even better alongside Dirk. He’ll be expensive, but it’s worth taking a long look at. Whether it’s Gortat or somebody else, expect the Mavs to be linked to a bunch of the big guys on the market.