Thus far, the most compelling news of this NBA off-season has been the jail sentence of the Denver Nuggets' J.R. Smith. Out of all the adjectives in the English language, "underwhelming" best describes the Mavs draft picks--a Euro point guard, a mid-major project and a guard with potential who will spend a year in Greece. At first glance, I was equally unimpressed with the organizations interest in the 6-11 Marcin Gortat.
I'll be the first to admit, I don't watch much Orlando Magic basketball, and Gortat's 3 ppg and 4 rpg average doesn't instill a lot of confidence. However, Gortat got those numbers as a back-up, averaging 12.6 minutes per game; Erick Dampier averaged 5/7, as a starter, in 23.0 minutes per game, so if the numbers hold, Gortat wouldn't be much a drop off--production wise--from Dampier.
Perhaps the most exciting prospect Gortat brings is his youth. The Mavs looked old against the Nuggets and looked middle-aged against an ancient Spurs team. They need some youth. I still hope that Ryan Hollins is the future at center for this team, but a Gortat/Hollins combination is younger than a Dampier/Hollins combination and should translate into more energy on the court.
In order for this to be relevant, the Mavs must remain committed to the youth already on the team. This means going out and resigning Brandon Bass and ironically making sure Jason Kidd signs his three year offer. Kidd will be instrumental in shaping the future of this franchise. If we expect any of the young guard prospects on this team to develop, it will require Kidd's experience and tutelage. Additionally, the Mavs must make sure they turn the expiring contracts of Jerry Stackhouse and Dampier into youthful contributors during the course of this off-season. I know it may be asking for too much, but it would be nice to get a young prospect in exchange for Devean George.
As I step back and look at it, the Gortat signing has potential as the first piece in a much bigger off-season puzzle for the Mavericks. In order for it to work, the Mavs must make additional, more substantial moves this off-season.