The Dallas Mavericks had a problem with depth in their front court last season. For the most part, the rotation consisted of Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber, with a dash of Marquese Chriss when he was healthy. Boban Marjanovic was on the bench for emergencies.
Now Chriss and Marjanovic are gone, and it was clear that Powell and Kleber were taxed to their limit in the playoffs. The Mavericks need a backup big man on the bench for more roster flexibility and to simply give their front court a breather when necessary.
Unfortunately, the Mavericks have no cap room to chase a big name center, or even a mid-tier free agent big man. So here are five free agent big men the Mavericks could sign on a minimum contract to bolster their front court depth:
Lopez will be entering his 15th year in the NBA next season, but he’s still got something to offer. He averaged 7.1 points per game for the Orlando Magic last season. Lopez isn’t as athletic as he once was, but he’s a big body that takes up space in the lane and can deal with the size of any traditional centers the Mavericks encounter. He doesn’t help with rebounding, however, as Lopez only grabbed 3.5 boards per game with the Magic.
Bryant will only be 25 years old at the start of next season, and will probably be available on a minimum. He’s coming off a season recovering from an ACL tear in 2021, only playing in 27 games last year. But in his last full season, Bryant averaged 13.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. He also shot 40% from deep, albeit on only two attempts per game. Bryant would be worth the risk on a minimum contract. The Mavericks have already seen Spencer Dinwiddie recover his pre-injury form in his second season after an ACL tear. Perhaps Bryant can have the same success in Dallas.
Dedmon will be entering his 10th season in the NBA, and didn’t get much burn with the Miami Heat last year. He averaged 6.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game last year. At seven foot and a solid 245 pounds, Dedmon could make up for size what he lacks in skill.
Ibaka is coming off an injury plagued year with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers. He appeared in 54 games last season, but just didn’t have the same pop in his game, possibly due to offseason back surgery. He only scored 6.8 points per game in 2021-22. But the Mavericks could decide that’s behind him and take a risk with him in the front court. Ibaka averaged 11.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in 2020-21.
A former first round pick, Dieng fell out of the rotation with the Atlanta Hawks. His stats aren’t eye-popping, to say the least: 3.5 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. But Dieng has size, and can shoot a little. He hit 42% of his 3-pointers last year, even though it was on only 1.5 attempts per game. He’s a playable option, and that’s something the Mavericks need.
Listen to our two latest podcasts. Seth Partnow explains why Jalen Brunson leaving might not be the worst thing for Dallas. Then we have a Spotify Live where we lament the Brunson signing with fellow Mavericks fans. If you can’t see the embed, search Mavs Moneyball Podcast in your favorite player or click here.