Less than 24 hours ago, we were talking about another three-headed monster team if Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo joined Dirk Nowitzki in Big D. Now, the Mavs have moved on to plan B.
Dwight Howard had made an announcement around 7:00 p.m. ET on July 5 that he would join the Houston Rockets, but just about three hours later, he backed out and told the L.A Lakers he was 50-50 on joining the Rockets or returning to Hollywood. Then as of 10:48 p.m ET, Howard told Mitch Kupchak and the Lakers that “he would not return to L.A,” and that he would sign a deal with Houston, but nothing is for sure until he actually signs with the Rockets.
Then there was the rumored Rondo trade. Some speculation was that the Celtics were interested in rookie Shane Larkin and even had asked for Dirk for the all-star point guard, but around 10:00 p.m ET on July 5, sources had reported that the Mavs and former Raptor and Pistons point guard Jose Calderon agreed on a 4-year deal worth $29 million.
Calderon, one of the most underrated guards in the league, has averaged 10.1 points, 7.2 assists, 48 percent field-goal shooting and 40 percent 3-pt shooting during his nine-year career. After eight years in Toronto, Calderon was dealt to the Pistons in part of the Rudy Gay trade this past season. He led the league last season with 46 percent shooting from downtown.
Mark Cuban and the Mavs now have a point guard that can shoot and run an offense effectively, while also helping Larkin become a better player. The last piece of the puzzle remains at the center position. With Howard out of the mix, there are a few free agent centers that could really help the Mavs contend in the West once again. With Chris Kaman, Bernard James, Elton Brand and Brandan Wright all free agents, there is a huge gap to fill for the five spot. It seems the Mavs won’t bring back Kaman, and Brand has been talking to the Knicks. I like Wright’s length and James showed signs of being a decent starter, but the Mavs are looking for a legitimate 82-game starter that can defend, grab boards and be a compliment to Dirk.
Some free agents that they could sign are Andrew Bynum, Nikola Pekovic and Samuel Dalembert. When healthy, Bynum and his ridiculous fro gives Howard a run for his money for best in the league, but I don’t see Cuban dealing with him after what he did to J.J Barea in the 2011 playoffs (Bynum fouls Barea hard). Pekovic was a beast in the paint for the T’Wolves last season, averaging career-highs with 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds in 31 minutes per game, but Cleveland has shown much interest in signing the Yugoslavia-native. The Mavs haven’t shown interest in Dalembert, but I believe the longtime 76er, who played for the Bucks this past season, could be a nice fit for Big D, especially on the defensive side.
Finally, there’s Omer Asik, who had a breakout campaign with Houston last season after backing up Joakim Noah for two years in Chicago. As a starter, he averaged 10.1 points and 11.7 rebounds in all 82 games. As soon as Dwight chose Houston, sources had reported that Asik, who would move to the four spot or back up Howard, wants out, feeling that his playing time and stats will take a huge hit.
The Mavericks are pushing hard for Asik, as they have roughly $13-17 million in cap space to work with. They could still offer Shawn Marion and his $9.3 million, if the Rockets feel Matrix could help them in the West. Whatever the case may be, the Mavs rebounded nicely in getting Calderon, and look poised to get a bona fide center.