The Dallas Mavericks announced Thursday that reserve forward Maxi Kleber will be out for an extended period of time after suffering a tear to his right hamstring at a team practice on Tuesday. There is currently no timetable for his return.
This season he has averaged 6.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, and one block in 25.6 minutes per game while also shooting 37 percent from three. He has appeared in 22 of the team’s 28 games this season.
Kleber, who turns 32 next month, blossomed into a reliable two-way player after coming over from Wurzburg, Germany. The big man, in his sixth season in Dallas, has shown to be the only defensive anchor for the team even in a year where the defense has been poor. He has gone back and forth from the starting lineup during his NBA stint. This season he has often been paired with Christian Wood, who can provide points but little resistance on the other end. And even in his reserve role, Kleber has been a mainstay of closing lineups for the team.
With this long term and indefinite absence coach Jason Kidd will need to be creative in his approach. The Mavericks made moves for two big men in the offseason, trading for Wood and signing center JaVale McGee to a three-year deal. Wood, though, has yet to earn consistent trust from Kidd, and McGee quickly found himself outside the normal rotation.
The timing of this injury couldn’t be worse as the Mavericks try to find any consistency in their play. They find themselves 14-14 and ninth in the Western conference standings. As the NBA enters true trade season, with most players that signed contracts in the offseason now eligible to be moved, keep an eye on any strategy from the Mavericks front office. It feels this season may be at a breaking point.