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Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Should focus shift off Delonte West to a rebounder?

By Jeff Caplan

Delonte West's unique personality, his, ahem, avant-garde appearance and on-court toughness quickly endeared him to Dallas Mavericks fans as much as to Dirk Nowitzki and fellow Boston Celtics draft pick coach Rick Carlisle.

Delonte West
The Mavs have expressed interest in bringing Delonte West back, but there might not be enough cap space.
Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson has maintained the club's interest in bringing West back. Yet, as the current roster stands, combo guards aren't lacking, bolstered by Monday's signing of O.J. Mayo. Financially, Dallas has exhausted its cap space. The options available to sign players are a $2.5 million "room" exception and veteran minimum contracts.

Nelson has also maintained that West, 28, has other options on the table. Those options might include multiyear offers, something West made a high priority and something Dallas, at this point, is doubtful to provide.

As worthwhile as it might be -- not to mention a load of fun -- to have the hard-nosed, two-way guard on the team, would the Mavs be wiser to focus attention elsewhere, such as acquiring additional frontline help, and specifically an above-average rebounder?

Dallas was not a good rebounding team last season, and most teams aren't when their small forward leads the category. Shawn Marion did that, in the regular season and postseason, and by a decently substantial margin.

Consider:
* The Mavs ranked 11th in the league in rebounds per game last season, averaging 42.8 a game. Not terrible, right? Well, not compared to ranking 26th in boards allowed, 43.9, and thus 21st in rebound differential, -1.1.

* Particularly late in the season, Dallas was brutalized by opponents' second-chance points. They gave up too many and rarely scored their own, ranking 27th in offensive rebounding.

* The Mavs' revamped frontline of Nowitzki, Chris Kaman and Elton Brand all appear to have seen their best rebounding days pass them by. Nowitzki has been on a steady decline, from 7.7 in 2009-10 to 7.0 in 2010-11 to a career-low 6.8 last season; Kaman has dropped from 9.3 in 2009-10 to 7.0 in 2010-11 and 7.7 last season; and Elton Brand hasn't reached his 9.4 career average since 2006-07 (9.3, close enough) and has posted career-lows in two of the last three seasons.

* Injury concerns also must be considered, particularly in regard to Kaman, 30, who has had his troubles staying on the court throughout his career. Brand, 33, has been quite durable over the last three seasons and Nowitzki, despite his brief right knee issue last season, rarely misses time. Still, all three players are getting older and only frail Brandan Wright and rookie Bernard James serve as reinforcement.

If Dallas wants to add some free-agent brawn, quality role players specializing in board work remain on the market. Here's a look at a half-dozen:

Kenyon Martin
Dallas Bryan Adams product Kenyon Martin has averaged 7.1 rebounds for his career.
Kenyon Martin -- If the Mavs aren't bringing home local products Deron Williams or C.J. Miles (it would appear), why not the former Dallas Bryan Adams star? He's averaged 7.1 rebounds for his career. His return from China landed him with the Clippers where he put up a career-low 4.3 boards a game, but also played with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. However, it might take more than $2.5 million to nab the 12-year vet. Then again, in this market, it might not.

Ronny Turiaf -- Dallas had interest in him when Denver waived him in March, but the 6-10, 249-pound power forward signed with the Miami Heat instead. The Mavs still have interest in the veteran who could eat up six or 10 or 12 minutes a game as necessary, simply to rebound. When his career stats are extrapolated over 36 minutes per game, the average minutes of a starter, he's averaged 7.7 rebounds and 9.4 in 13 games with the Heat.

Louis Amundson -- One of the more under-the-radar players in the league, this six-year vet of five NBA teams simply knows how to get position to rebound. In 60 games last season for the Indiana Pacers, the 6-9 forward averaged 10.6 boards per 36 minutes and his career mark is 10.0.

Nazr Mohammed -- The 6-10 center has bounced around the league a long time and Oklahoma City's drafting of Baylor's Perry Jones and signing of disappointing, but young big Hasheem Thabeet made Mohammed expendable. Still, as a career backup, he's averaged 10.7 rebounds per 36 minutes and averaged 9.7 and 8.8 rebounds per 36 minutes in his two seasons with the Thunder.

Joel Przybilla -- Dallas had interest him last season when he made his return and eventually signed up with Portland. The rugged, 7-1 center might be a health risk at this stage, but he'd provide physical minutes at center and his 11.1 rebounding average per 36 minutes shows he can still pound the glass. He could also possibly be had on a veteran minimum deal.

Jordan Hill -- Signs point to this athletic youngster signing somewhere on the West Coast, but he is certainly an energetic talent that would be a strong addition to a plodding front line on the down side of its rebounding prowess. Hill gave the Lakers a spark on the boards after arriving from Houston in the Derek Fisher trade, averaging 12.2 rebounds and 12.7 points per 36 minutes.

Honorable mention -- Darko Milicic, Andray Blatche (must clear amnesty bidding process), Chris "Birdman" Andersen (must clear amnesty bidding process).