Mavs Moneybrawl: Centers and Worth

USA TODAY Sports

In the wake of the Pekovic deal, the MMB staff discusses the center market and what its future might possibly hold.

As you may have heard, center has been a position of focus for the Mavericks this off-season. This week, Nikola Pekovic reportedly agreed to terms with the Minnesota Timberwolves on a contract worth 5 years/$60 million. Earlier this off-season, Houston beat out the Mavs and other teams on Dwight Howard, and the Mavericks put in place what could be called somewhat of a stopgap plan B at center: they signed Samuel Dalembert to a very reasonable 2 years/$7.5 million, they re-signed second year Bernard James to a one year deal for the veteran's minimum, and they re-signed PF/C Brandan Wright to a very nice 2 year/$10 million deal.

Though these are all certainly very nice signings - the Brandan Wright deal in particular - the Mavs are really still in need of a longer term solution at center in the coming years. In the wake of the Pekovic deal, the MMB staff got to discussing behind the scenes - what are the variables behind the bigger options the Mavs could have at center in the coming years?

Jonathan Tjarks:

Pekovic just got paid -- 5 years/$60 million. That's what it will cost, at a minimum, to get any of the RFA centers next year.

Alan Smithee:

In the words of Michael Bluth, "I have no problem with that."

I'd give that to any of the big four RFA centers. Get an under 25 big man locked up? Sure.

Jonathan:

I would too. I guess my point is that good centers are too valuable for teams to just give them up for nothing in free agency. Even if it's an "overpay", you can always trade them later. Given the current cap constraints, I'm not sure you can actually overpay a good young center.

Alan:

Honestly I'd have been hesitant to give him five years.  Not so much just that he'd be 32, but because he'd be 32 with that body.

Josh Bowe:

The funny thing is...it's 32! And that's the END of the deal, not like the middle. He should still be a good rebounder, finisher at 32, especially since he isn't really all that athletic. And if he starts showing he's washed up at 32, guess what? THE CONTRACT IS UP.

Alan:

In baseball there's the term "old player skills." I think part of the thinking you're referring to might originate there.

Pekovic isn't athletic, but he's extremely physical, and has stamina issues, so I can understand the thought that there might be an early expiration date on his style of play.

Good player though, and as crazy as it might sound, I think Minnesota might be in sort of a win now mode. They need to keep Love in town, and with KMart and Pek signed, I think they have a window to be pretty good.

Jonathan:

I see what you're saying, but Pek has the leverage. If you're going to get his age-28 season, you have to pay for his age-32 as well.

Minnesota is definitely in a win-now scenario. I don't think it's going to work. Love's probably going to end up on a super-team.

Andrew Tobolowsky:

Win now or not, you really do have to consider alternatives. If you offer Pek a more "reasonable" contract and he doesn't take it, you don't end up with a bunch of time and money to wait for a guy even better than Pek, you enter the strange netherworld the Mavericks have made their own.

Sure, you get the chance to bid on Favors or somebody who is younger than Pek and has so far not demonstrated the flaws which, inevitably revealing themselves, will inevitably result in someone thinking it's dumb to offer him a 5 year/$60 million deal when whoever the next Favors is is going to be an RFA next year. But you probably miss Favors, and then you end up with Dalembert. Then Love and Rubio are both on a pretty bad team for another year, and they don't like it.

So Love leaves, but you don't get anything for him because he's made it clear he's leaving in the offseason anyway and because the recent big trade rentals have shown it's at least as likely that you don't stay with the team that traded for you (Dwight, Iggy) as it is that you do (Deron, Chris). So then you have Rubio, who still can't score, trying to pass to Dalembert to run your offense because there's nothing else, so he leaves. Then the Wolves have lost the stars that were supposed to be their core because they didn't want to give Pek an extra year because after people turn 31, they often, if they're lucky, turn 32.

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