As July rolled on, free-agent power forward Ike Diogu, a 6-foot-9, 250-pound proud product of Garland High School, was confident he'd be back next season with the New Orleans Hornets. But, he said, if things didn't work out there, he'd sure love to play for the hometown club, those Dallas Mavericks.
After all, the Mavs have been and still are looking for a spot big to back up Dirk Nowitzki. Dallas swung and missed at bigger fish Udonis Haslem and Al Harrington, then re-signed Tim Thomas, but that lasted about a week as Thomas decided it was best if he remained at home to care for his recovering wife (Thomas has kept the nature of her illness that took him from the team last season between them).
Now word comes that the Mavs are eager to sign 10-year veteran Brian Cardinal with the first practice of training camp approaching in exactly one week. The Dallas brass has always admired big men that can step out and pop.
And, Diogu waits.
"Yeah, I believe my agent has spoken to Dallas. I'm not sure what direction they are going to go in, but like I said before, I'm definitely all for playing with the home team," Diogu said via text message. "It would be a dream come true and I reiterated that to my agent."
Diogu's agent, Thad Foucher, wasn't available Monday night, but Diogu said that Denver, Utah and San Antonio are the last three teams that have expressed interest. New Orleans, Diogu said, is out of the picture.
The former Garland star left his home state to play at Arizona State and became the ninth player taken overall by Golden State in 2005. But, Diogu's hype hasn't panned out. He's bounced around the league, unable to find the right niche. Last year, he had high hopes signing with New Orleans, but a devastating injury early on to his left knee sidelined him for the entire season. He's coming off microfracture surgery.
Diogu is a burly, low-post player whose game is played under the rim, similar to the Spurs' DeJuan Blair or Boston's Glen "Big Baby" Davis. Diogu's challenge is to show teams he has the quickness and mobility to compete in the blocks.
He said his rehabbed knee is fully recovered and he feels he's capable to contribute. On the Mavs, he would be the 10th man at best, asked to play spot duty, grab some rebounds and play sturdy defense. He believes his serious lack of playing time through his first five seasons will be beneficial as his career shifts into its next stage.
He said if teams are concerned about his knee, recent MRI exams show no structural damage.
"The knee is fine, no problems at all with it. Basically it's a non-issue," Diago said. "I'm good to go."
Unfortunately for Diogu, it looks as though Diogu will have to leave his home state again. He should know soon where his next chapter starts. Perhaps then his NBA career can begin to flourish.