Ike Diogu starred at Garland (Texas) High School, left for Arizona State and has kicked around the NBA, finding limited opportunities on five teams in five seasons. At 6-foot-9, 250 pounds, Diogu is a power forward who feels as though he's ready to break through.
"I feel I've improved really in everything from understanding the game, knowing when to go, when to pass, when to be aggressive," said Diogu, an unrestricted free agent. "Things that come with paying your dues and I have paid my dues. I am ready to take off."
"It's definitely something I'd be interested in looking at doing," Diogu said. However, Diogu said he believes he will return to the New Orleans Hornets. Diogu signed as a free agent with the Hornets last summer, but he suffered an early, season-ending injury to his left knee that required microfracture surgery.
Buried on the depth charts at his previous stops, Diogu, the former ninth overall pick by Golden State in 2005, comes with a cheap price tag (the veteran's minimum), but added risk as he works his way back from the difficult procedure. But, Diogu thinks his limited playing time in past situations might actually serve him well post-surgery and as he heads optimistically into a sixth NBA season.
"If you look at the amount of games I've played, I haven't played that much," Diogu said. "There's not a lot of mileage there. The best is definitely still to come."
As for the Hornets, the obvious question for Diogu is about the future of point guard Chris Paul, who reportedly is seeking an exit strategy out of New Orleans. Diogu said he hasn't talked to the All-Star.
"I always look at things as it's a business," Diogu said. "People tell you certain things and you expect them to honor that. He wants them to put more pieces around him."
As for the Mavs, if Diogu is headed back to New Orleans, what free agents remain that can fill a void at backup power forward? As of today, the Mavs plan to use small forward Shawn Marion and center Tyson Chandler to log minutes behind Nowitzki.
Dallas has two roster spots available and its full mid-level exception to spend. With no players still available that would command the full, $5.8-million MLE, the Mavs can use as little or as much of the MLE as they like on one or multiple players. The list of available power forwards is not long or particularly attractive. And, of course, the Mavs don't have to use the MLE at all.
Here's nine more PFs still on the market:
Anthony Tolliver, Golden State
Louis Amundson, Phoenix
James Singleton, Washington
Joe Smith, Atlanta
Malik Allen, Denver
Brian Skinner, L.A. Clippers
Brian Cardinal, Minnesota
Sean Marks, New Orleans
Sean May, Sacramento