In this crazy free agency even a roster that nearly appeared to be set wasn't. The Mavericks traded away Rudy Fernandez and Corey Brewer to the Denver Nuggets for a future second-rounder and opened up two roster spots again. Although Dallas is considered one of the, if not the, deepest team in the league, there are minor holes at the small-forward and center position that could be filled.
The guard rotation is crowded with Jason Kidd, Delonte West, Vince Carter, Jason Terry, Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones. That's 3-deep at both guard positions. Vince Carter has the size to play the 3 (6-6 and Stevenson who picked up a lot of minutes there during the championship campaign is listed at 6-5), but hasn't done it during the last season. Coach Carlisle also stated that he views him more as a 2/3 rather than a 3/2. Odom's versatility also would allow him to pick up minutes at that spot, but he barely played out of position (PF) last year, too. That leaves the Mavs with only one true small-forward: Shawn Marion. With no acquisition, we know the Coach will find units that will work, but another pickup wouldn't be too bad. Just in case.
Power-forwards are Dirk Nowitzki, Lamar Odom, Brian Cardinal and Brandan Wright. That's probably the best duo (and trio... and quartet) in the league right now. Wright could play at center, but it's questionable that he even will crack the rotation and Carlisle sees him more as a PF. So there's Ian Mahinmi and Brendan Haywood. It has been noted that we could see some lineups with Dirk or Odom at the 5, but this is highly based on matchups. First of all I already stated that Odom rarely played out of position last season and so did Dirk. Secondly it can be questioned whether you want to exhaust both players at that very physical position in a condensed season. I'm especially not too sure about Dirk in that regard. So another pickup at center would also be nice. Again: Just in case.
We'll start with available centers on the market in this one. Click through to see the compilation and analysis.
Let's sort out some things first:
- Joel Przybilla is a dad for now and will decide on a new contract after the holidays. Right now, he's Unavailable.
- Etan Thomas's stats look nice, but he only played 82 minutes last season and had much worse years in 08/09 and 09/10. So these numbers are not reliable. But he's Available.
- Samuel Dalembert is clearly ahead of the pack, but he has been linked to the Rockets. Also there are numerous teams out there that would top a minimum offer by the Mavs. Unavailable.
- Kyrylo Fesenko was injured while playing for his national team in September. He should be good to go now and I consider him Available.
- Solomon Jones has already met with multiple teams according to @DimeMag. Available.
- Antonio McDyess still thinks about retiring and if not, he probably will just resign with the Spurs, who are also in need of big-men. Theoretically Available.
- Reggie Evans is drawing interest from multiple teams. He also seems to be looking for playing time, so borderline Available with the current roster. Mavs might have to offer him the backup spot behind Haywood.
- Hamed Haddadi is stuck in Iran. It's also likely that he will rejoin the Grizzlies once he returns. Unavailable.
- Alexis Ajinca had been on the Mavs roster last year before they traded him to Toronto. He is drawing interest from the Knicks. Available.
- Didier Ilunga-Mbenga, Erick Dampier, Francisco Elson, Hilton Armstrong and Theo Ratliff are Available.
Sorting out numbers and infos, we got a list:
- Erick Dampier. A familiar name becomes the frontrunner! Believe it or not, but he had a solid year with the Heat and got rewarded with a championship party at the Liv nightclub. Sort of. His PER is not impressive (representing his lack of scoring and below-the-average rebounding), but he tops the list in FG%, fewest turnovers, fewest personal fouls and still blocks a considerable amount of shots. The advanced metrics rank him in the Top 6 of WS48, WP48 and Defensive +/-, which also means Miami played better defense when he was on the floor. Only downside is FT% and Haywood also had a horrible season in that regard. Both centers can't score from the line? Not good. Mahinmi can hit free throws, but can he stay on the floor long enough with 10.4 fouls per 48 minutes?
- McDyess is right there with Ericka, but the mentioned uncertainties push him to the second place. He can still score, has a nice midrange jumper, is an above-the-average rebounder and tops the list in assists, which would nicely fit the Mavs unselfish offense. Advanced metrics rank him 4th in WS48 and WP48. He only drops off a bit in Def +/-, but that's OK. I'd consider him an even stronger pickup than Dampier, but I think he will either rejoin the Spurs or retire.
- Reggie Evans. Rebounds! Also a considerable amount of assists, few turnovers, but rarely blocks a shot. His WP48 is off the chart (Chandler also had 0.268 last year), but free throw percentage is a problem and Toronto's league-worst defense last year got even worse when he was on the floor.
- Mbenga. Had a nice defensive impact on last years Hornets and can still rebound the ball. FT% is also a plus and he tops the list in blocked shots. Advanced metrics are OK, but he fouls a lot and turns the ball over too much.
- Ajinca. The Mavs know him so that gives him the edge at the end of our list. Scored a lot in limited minutes with Toronto last season, but a negative WP48 is normally a no-go. Tops the list in defensive +/-, but just like Mahinmi he's a foul machine. Slightly above the middle of the pack in the other categories.
So these are your candidates. Let me know if I missed out on any available free agents. Be sure to check back regularly to read the follow-up on the small-forward market!