Earlier, Shams Charania tweeted that the Mavs are close to signing Maxi Kleber to a 3-year, $33 million contract extension that would tie him to the team through 2025-2026. Kleber’s contributions on the court are undeniable. He’s the most versatile defender and the key to playing five out on offense.
And yet, why? Why now? The deal came in around the non-taxpayer mid level exception, which seems in line with what his market would have been after the season. The length of the contract is the question. Kleber didn’t give the team a discount and we could have given him a third year in free agency. Giving Kleber this deal now provides him with security while shifting all of the long-term risk to the team.
Kleber is 30-years-old and turns 31 in January, while he’s shown signs of breaking down. Like Porzingis before him, the team will be entering the season with a strategy on how to preserve his body and ensure he is healthy for the postseason. Kleber is a part-time player that should playing about 20-25 minutes a night in order to maximize his talents. Due to roster construction, Kleber has been forced into playing big minutes and the thread on his tires have suffered as a result.
If Kleber is unable to stay healthy during the upcoming season, this deal will look terrible before it even kicks in. The Mavericks would have been better served by playing out the season before committing to paying him into his age 34 season. It’s also premature to assume the low average annual salary makes this contract a positive trade asset. Kleber is not a young player where team control and the length of the contract allow a team to extract more value in a deal. In fact, every additional year on the deal will make it harder to move. By the time a team is comfortable taking on the remaining years, his age and play could make his inclusion in a trade difficult.