After signing Wes Matthews and DeAndre Jordan, the Mavericks will have an intriguing core. But the team won't have much money to spend to fill out the backend of its roster.
Dallas needs to fill as many as five roster slots with minimum salaried players, the kind of deals frequently agreed to by NBA veterans on their last legs hoping for one more good playoff run. Rather than invest in a bunch of older one-way veterans like Amar'e Stoudemire to fill out its roster, the Mavericks front office should look to continue its run of successful reclamation projects this summer.
The team has a history of finding young guys who were undervalued elsewhere in the league and turning them into high value role players. Over the last decade, Brandon Bass, DeSagana Diop, Brandan Wright have come to Dallas on bargain contracts and played their way into much larger deals.
Most recently, Al-Farouq Aminu signed a minimum salary deal to join the Mavs last summer. After a solid season in Dallas, he signed a $30 million deal with the Trail Blazers this week. Those successes are a counterpoint to the team's recent failures adding talent through the draft. And the quick departures of players like Aminu make it even more important for the team to find talented free agents on the cheap. As it happens, there are several young players with low value around the league who might become more productive in a better environment.
Although Jeremy Lin is likely to make more than the minimum salary, if he ends up coming to Dallas he could be the next poster boy for Mavericks reclamation projects. After Linsanity hit its peak in 2012, he had three up and down years with the Rockets and Lakers. He ended up losing his starting job in Houston to Patrick Beverley, who was a better fit next to James Harden. And in LA, he never gained the trust of Byron Scott.
Rick Carlisle would likely value his ability running the pick and roll in Dallas and he would have a better chance to establish himself at the outset without constant criticism from a crazy Hall of Famer.
In Charlotte, former lottery pick Bismack Biyombo became a casualty of the Hornets' glut of frontcourt players when the team opted to let him hit free agency this summer. He has the same kind of draft pedigree as Wright and Aminu--two former 10 picks who saw little success before arriving in Dallas.
The 6'9 center averaged about 12 rebounds per 36 minutes over the last two seasons with a true shooting percentage that hovered around 60 percent. Biyombo isn't a great shooter outside of three feet from the basket but the Mavs last season had two centers who were huge offensive threats at the rim. If Carlisle has shown he can develop any young talent, it's in the frontcourt.
Unlike Biyombo, Darrell Arthur has established himself as a solid NBA player. But he's been stuck playing behind Zach Randolph and Kenneth Faried in Memphis and then Denver. Over the past two seasons, his per game averages have hovered around 6 points and 3 rebounds. He's struggled with injuries but has been consistently productive in a limited role and has the range to occasionally hit shots out to the three point line. As Dirk Nowitzki enters the season at age 37, it's more critical than ever that the team have reliable backups at power forward.
The draft has come and gone and most surefire talent has been picked over during the first 48 hours of free agency. But the Mavericks have shown an ability to identify solid contributors among low profile names. When the team has filled out its starting lineup, it will be time to find the next successful reclamation project.