Second in a 15-part series ranking the Mavericks' 2011-12 roster in importance of bringing back next season.
Look, these rankings might seem easy to put together, but it takes hours of hair-splitting internal debate. So believe me when I say there's a certain starting center that flirted with this early position in the Countdown until reality set in that big-bodied centers are just too hard to find (not that Dallas won't decide to amnesty this certain starting center anyway) to toss one, as disappointing as he might have been, into the trash bin at No. 14.
Such is the case even when talking about a hustle guy like The Custodian, the quintessential locker-room guy, a guy the coach knows is always ready, the guy who will always make the smart play and come through in a pinch and always, always works his tail off.
That described Brian Cardinal a year ago during the Mavs' championship run. This year? Eh, not so much, minus the work-his-tail-off part.
At 35, if Cardinal can't be counted on to get in the game and knock down a corner 3-pointer to go along with a jarring drawn charge, then he becomes expendable. Therefore, and it is with a touch of sadness, Cardinal's two-year stop in Dallas, as entertaining and as joyous (mostly) as it was, has come to a close.
At No. 14 in the Countdown is ...
Ht/Wt: 6-8, 240
Experience: 12 years
Age: 35 (May 2, 1977)
2011-12 stats: 1.0 ppg (20.4 3FG%), 0.8 rpg
Contract status: Free agent
2011-12 salary: $854,389
2012-13 salary: TBD
His story: Consider this about Cardinal: During last season's playoff run, he knocked down 3-of-4 shots from beyond the arc. He made 10 overall this season, which is especially tough to swallow considering the 3-ball accounted for 89.1 percent of his total shot attempts. Cardinal dropped 42-of-87 (48.3 percent) from beyond the arc in 56 games during the 2010-11 season. The addition of Lamar Odom obviously pushed Cardinal deeper on the bench, but even after Odom's dismissal in early April, Cardinal didn't see much time. Cardinal will draw a charge or make a steal, but he's got to be able to spread the floor while he's on it.
His outlook: During the Mavs' exit interviews, Cardinal made it clear that he wants to play at least one more season. It's highly doubtful that it will be in Dallas, but surely there's a team out there that can use a steady veteran presence for spot minutes. Who knows, maybe the Mavs will have a last roster vacancy as free agency toils into August and beyond and they'll bring him back on another veteran's minimum deal. Remember, when Cardinal first arrived at training camp in 2010, he was on a make-good contract with Steve Novak. Cardinal made good, Novak did not.