The Dallas Mavericks appear to be the market for bench support at the power forward and center position. It looks like they've set their sights on two specific targets: Power Foward, Udonis Haslem and Center, Ian Mahinmi.
It was reported by Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo Sports that the Mavericks are interested in offering a multi-year deal with their mid-level exception to Udonis Haslem. Udonis is a very capable backup power forward and can play spare minutes at the center position as well. He is a capable shooter (career 49.9%) and very talented rebounder (career 8.1 rebounds/game). The move would help bolster the Mavericks bench and also throw a monkey wrench into the Miami Heat's plans at keeping Haslem in the fold. The Miami Heat is the only team Udonis has played for in his seven NBA seasons. The Heat are very restricted by the salary cap after making their big splash last week resigning Dwyane Wade and adding LeBron James and Chris Bosh to the mix. Based on the less than stellar big man pool in free agency, retaining Haslem is critical to the Heat. They were hoping to keep Udonis at a reduced pay-rate, but now the question becomes does Udonis want to stay with the Heat or join the Mavericks?
This decision could also have a ripple effect that involves the Heat AND the Lakers. The Heat are in discussions with guard Derek Fisher to convince him to jump on board with Miami. With the fact that the Heat might lose out on Haslem, a greater emphasis will be placed on bringing Fisher on board. That will create a bidding war for the championship point guard and that will hurt financial resources for either the Lakers or Heat going forward.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Dallas Morning News are reporting that the Mavericks are close to signing former San Antonio Spurs Center, Ian Mahinmi. Here is a breakdown of Mahinmi's game from last year:
Overview: A gifted, young, and athletic power forward who lacks the experience and polish to see significant minutes. Possesses good size and length for his position, and has packed on some muscle to his still somewhat skinny frame since entering the NBA. Displays good mobility and gets off the floor well. Nice athleticism for his size despite injury history. Intriguing physical tools along with rebounding and shot blocking instincts made him a prospect coming out of France. Spent two additional seasons in France after being drafted late in the first round by the Spurs. Showed some signs of improvement, a trend that has continued in his time playing with the Spurs’ NBADL affiliate, the Austin Toros. Still could develop into a nice role player, but needs to stay healthy. Missed almost all of the 2008-2009 season with a bad ankle. Needs to get the development of his offensive game back on track and play minutes wherever he can in San Antonio’s organization.
Offense: Developing offensive player who shows flashes of potential. Gets most of his touches in the post or as a hustle player. Used to show extremely good lateral quickness that allowed him to create easy opportunities for himself on the inside and out. Time on the sidelines has hurt his explosiveness to a small degree and has generally slowed his development. Still able to use his speed to do some things in the post. Lacks the strength to consistently establish deep position, but shows a nice running hook over his left shoulder as well as developing turnaround and face up jumper. Displays very nice touch with his right hand around the rim across the board. Length makes his hook extremely difficult to block. Jumper is still a work in progress, looks capable when he has time and space, but lacks the mechanics to get good touch on every shot. Capable finisher around the basket who is able to do some damage on the offensive glass with his length. Gets to the line at a very good rate. Will go up strong when he has a lane to the rim. Needs to continue working on his post repertoire and left hand to take full advantage of the attempts he gets around the rim. Can put the ball on the floor with his back to the basket to get in better position to score, but is still a bit turnover prone. Will have to continue polishing his game from the mid-range in to cut down on mistakes. Not much of a passer, but displays better vision than he did in his younger days. Has some obvious tools and potential, but definitely a work in progress on the offensive end.
Defense: Has very nice defensive tools, but still lacks the fundamentals to stay on the floor for extended minutes in an NBA setting. Length and athleticism allow him to effectively defend the mid-range and contest shots, though his lack of physical strength hurts his ability to defend the paint against more experienced back to the basket scorers. Gets quite a few of his blocks defending the ball one-on-one. Needs to do a better job going straight up when he’s rotating over from the weak-side. Still prone to hacking shooters, leading to foul trouble. Got a free pass during his time in the NBADL, but will need to continue improving his discipline to help himself translate to the NBA level. Quick hands and feet for a big man, could stand to add weight to become a more complete package defensively and improve his ability to box out and battle for position on the block.
Time will tell if he can actually produce on a consistent basis at the NBA level. If the Mavericks are able to land both of these players, Erick Dampier and his non guaranteed contract appear to be on the outs for good in Dallas. There were talks that Dampier could boomerang back to Dallas after a trade and that new team cutting him to cash in on the savings, that would not be the case if these new players are on board. The question then becomes what will the Mavericks do with Dampier's contract? They have the option to trade it during the off-season and get a talented player or group of talented players back in return and give the other team instant salary relief. They can also cut Dampier now and use that to help reduce the payroll for this year. Dallas could also trade Dampier now for a player exception and basically use that as a form of an extension for his value. The other option they have is that they could keep Dampier on board and use his expiring contract at the trade deadline in February.
There have been plenty of discussions between the Mavericks and the Timberwolves in regards to Dampier and Al Jefferson. The talks are still fluid but they have not been able to find a deal that both parties can agree to. The news with Haslem and Mahinmi seem to suggest they are willing to walk away from the trade discussions with Minnesota and go in a new direction. Whether you like the moves or not, the Mavericks are in the pursuit of adding depth to their front line.