Dallas Mavericks: Chris Kaman

Tyson Chandler set the standard for Mavericks center during his one-season stint in Dallas.

But the standard is far from the norm. In the last four games, Samuel Dalembert has approached Chandler’s standard. For most of the season, he’s met the norm for Mavs centers.

From the Dept. of Damning With Faint Praise: A strong argument can be made that Dalembert is actually the best bargain among the Mavs’ starting big men during Dirk Nowitzki’s career. The Mavs obviously got their money’s worth from Chandler’s eight-figure salary, but that makes him the bang-for-buck exception.

Other than DeSagana Diop, who wasn’t overpaid by the Mavs until a few years after his part-time starting stint, Dalembert is by far the cheapest starting center the Mavs have had next to Nowitzki. And Dalembert’s numbers stack up pretty well to his predecessors’.

The list of big men who have played with Nowitzki sticks out like a sore thumb (showing their seasons as the Dirk era Mavs’ primary starting center):

Samuel Dalembert
John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY SportsA strong argument can be made that Samuel Dalembert is the best bargain among the Mavs' starting big men during Dirk Nowitzki's career.
Shawn Bradley
1998-99: 8.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 3.2 bpg, .480 FG ($6.75 million)
1999-00: 8.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.5 bpg, .479 FG ($7.56 million)
2000-01: 7.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2.8 bpg, .490 FG ($8.37 million)
Mavs memories: The 7-foot-6 Bradley blocked a bunch of shots, but you’ll find many more examples of him ending up on the wrong end of at-the-rim highlights on YouTube. He’s best remembered for being posterized and a lot of painfully awkward offensive possessions.

Juwan Howard
2001-02: 12.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 0.5 bpg, .462 FG ($18.75 million)
Mavs memories: He was only a center in the wacky world of Nellie, and even then only for a little more than half of the season before he got shipped to Denver as part of a massive deadline deal. Pairing a young Dirk with Howard proved that Nellie really didn’t care a lick about interior defense.

Raef LaFrentz
2002-03: 9.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.3 bpg, .518 FG ($7.27 million)
Mavs memories: It took a little more than a year for Nellie to go from envisioning LaFrentz as the key to competing with the Lakers to realizing he was a bad contract Dallas needed to dump. The Mavs actually got some value when they got rid of him, taking Antoine Walker off the Celtics’ hands and flipping him for Jason Terry a year later.

Erick Dampier
2004-05: 9.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.4 bpg, .550 FG ($7.7 million)
2006-07: 7.1 ppg, 7.4 ppg, 1.1 bpg, .626 FG ($9.63 million)
2007-08: 6.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.5 bpg, .643 FG ($10.59 million)
2008-09: 5.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.2 bpg, .650 FG ($11.55 million)
2009-10: 6.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.4 bpg, .624 FG ($12.12 million)
Mavs memories: They let Steve Nash go so they could sign this stiff?! Dampier was a more expensive, much less intense version of Kendrick Perkins. At least his contract included a goodbye gift, as the Mavs parlayed his fully nonguaranteed final year into Chandler.

DeSagana Diop
2005-06: 2.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.4 bpg, .470 FG ($1.85 million)
Mavs memories: Did you forget that Diop started more games than Dampier during the Mavs’ first Finals season? The Mavs’ mistake with Diop occurred a couple of summers later, when they gave him a five-year deal for the full midlevel, somehow suckering Charlotte into trading for him after a couple of months of huffing and puffing.

Tyson Chandler
2010-11: 10.1 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 1.1 bpg, .654 FG ($12.6 million)
Mavs memories: He didn’t stay long, but he’ll always be loved in Dallas. Chandler was the final piece to the Mavs’ championship puzzle.

Brendan Haywood
2011-12: 5.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.0 bpg, .518 FG ($7.62 million)
Mavs memories: Haywood played a key role as a backup during the Mavs’ march through the West playoff bracket in 2011. But he was so underwhelming as Chandler’s replacement that the Mavs used the amnesty clause on him so they could sign Chris Kaman. Dallas is paying Haywood more than Dalembert this season.

Chris Kaman
2012-13: 10.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 0.8 bpg, .507 FG ($8 million)
Mavs memories: He had the ugliest .500 beard, and his poor defense was a major reason those whiskers grew so long. Kaman and coach Rick Carlisle don’t exchange Christmas cards.

Samuel Dalembert
2013-14: 6.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.1 bpg, .590 FG ($3.7 million)
Mavs memories: If he keeps showing up like he has during the Mavs’ winning streak, his oversleeping incidents will be forgotten. He doesn’t seem so bad compared to most of the other big men in recent Mavs history.

Opening Tip: Dalembert better earn minutes

December, 9, 2013
12/09/13
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Tyson Chandler is the exception and the standard. He’s the one starting center coach Rick Carlisle has been comfortable sticking with over the last five seasons.

Not coincidentally, Chandler is the one starting center employed by the Mavericks over that span who displayed a consistent level of energy and intensity.

Samuel Dalembert
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsSamuel Dalembert needs to bring a consistent level of energy and intensity to earn his minutes.
Samuel Dalembert is following in the footsteps of Brendan Haywood and Chris Kaman. The Mavs must hope that Dalembert handles the starting lineup uncertainty better than his 7-foot predecessors.

Saturday night’s performance in Portland certainly wasn’t encouraging. Coming off the bench behind DeJuan Blair for the second straight game, Dalembert contributed so little in 12 minutes (two rebounds, one block, minus-7) that Carlisle decided to give the rest of the backup minutes to Bernard James.

Maybe that delivered a message to Dalembert. James played 11 frenetic minutes, scoring five points, grabbing six rebounds, blocking a shot and helping the Mavs outscore the Trail Blazers by three during his time on the floor. Carlisle can honestly tell Dalembert -- or let him figure it out on his own -- that he isn’t guaranteed minutes unless he performs.

That doesn’t mean it will have a positive effect on Dalembert. It didn’t on Haywood, who muttered “I just work here” over and over and moped the rest of the season when Erick Dampier came back from an injury and reclaimed the starting job weeks after the Mavs acquired Haywood from Washington. It didn’t on Kaman, who also took a passive-aggressive approach about Carlisle’s playing-time decisions during his time in Dallas and openly complained about the coach’s “mind games” when he came through town with the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this season.

Then again, maybe those guys just aren’t starting-caliber big men. Haywood was so uninspiring as the Mavs’ starter in 2011-12 that the Mavs waived him via the amnesty clause the following summer. He was a backup for the Charlotte Bobcats last season. For all of Kaman’s complaints about Carlisle, he’s averaging fewer minutes this season and is coming off the bench for the Lakers.

And maybe there’s a reason Dalembert is playing for his fifth team in five years. His numbers (7.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.3 blocks) are pretty close to his career averages, but the Mavs are demanding more from Dalembert defensively.

If Dalembert doesn’t deliver, he might not play many minutes. That’s especially true with Brandan Wright days away from making his season debut.

The Mavs signed Dalembert to be their starting center, but he might end up being the odd big man out.

Opening Tip: Mavs' newcomers work with Dirk

November, 11, 2013
11/11/13
8:00
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Coach Rick Carlisle responded with a blanket statement when asked about how well the Mavericks’ new starters have immediately meshed with Dirk Nowitzki.

“There’s no player that’s ever played in this league that wouldn’t be a better player if he’s on the floor with Dirk Nowitzki because of how the game changes when he’s out there,” Carlisle said.

Well, actually, there are at least two. For whatever reason, O.J. Mayo and Chris Kaman just didn’t work with Dirk last season.

Fortunately, that isn’t an issue with their replacements. Nowitzki and shooting guard Monta Ellis have been the Mavs’ most efficient two-man tandem in terms of plus-minus, as Dallas has outscored opponents by 49 points in 162 minutes with that duo on the floor. The team’s next best tandem: Nowitzki and center Samuel Dalembert (plus-25 in 120 minutes).

The Mavs were outscored by an average of 2.2 points per 48 minutes with Mayo and Nowitzki playing together last season. It was even worse when Nowitzki paired with Kaman (minus-5.8 per 48 minutes), which is why Kaman quickly fell out of favor with Carlisle.

It certainly helps that Nowitzki is healthy after dealing with knee problems last season, but the Mavs acquired free agents who are much better fits with him than the fill-ins last year.

In the case of Dalembert, his strengths are suited to fill the roles the Mavs need from their big man next to Nowitzki. He’s a rim protector and rebounder whose role offensively is pretty much limited to setting picks, crashing the boards and occasionally catching (or fumbling) and finishing. Kaman, on the other hand, is a lead-footed defender who operates offensively in some of the same midrange space as Nowitzki.

Ellis is at his best as a pick-and-roll initiator and is thriving with all of the space created by defenses’ concern about Nowitzki. Mayo, who put up big numbers while Nowitzki was recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, simply wasn’t a good enough decision-maker to do well in that role.

“Basketball IQ,” Mark Cuban said. “Some guys play off athleticism. Some have a specific skill. Some guys just know how to play.

“Watching Monta watch a pick, get set, waiting for it, seeing that the angle isn’t right, stepping back out and having the patience to do that, we didn’t see that once the entire year last year. And he does it two or three times a game. That’s just a night and day difference.”

Not coincidentally, so is the plus-minus.
Coach Rick Carlisle is no longer revealing a closely guarded secret 16 minutes before tipoff.

There’s no mystery about the Dallas Mavericks’ starting lineup these days. Barring injury, there shouldn’t be all season.

The starting five of Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki and Samuel Dalembert is working just fine. In fact, it’s by far the Mavs’ most successful lineup after five games, outscoring opponents by 33 points in 66 minutes.

That’s a major change from last season, when Carlisle was constantly tinkering and searching for combinations that worked during Dallas' frustrating .500 season. The Mavs rolled out a ridiculous 23 starting lineups last season.

Carlisle, of course, would much rather stick with a starting five. It appears promising that he’ll have that luxury this season, although the fact that four starters are 32 or older significantly increases the odds of injury interruptions.

“The benefits are you can build consistency,” Carlisle said. “Guys can get an opportunity to get a feel for how to play with each other.

“I want to have consistency. I would love to have a consistent rotation, but not to the point where guys can keep a job by playing mediocre basketball. You can’t have that.”

(Read full post)

Locker Room Buzz: Mavs-Lakers

November, 5, 2013
11/05/13
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DALLAS -- Some quick hits from the Mavericks’ 123-104 win over the Los Angeles Lakers:

Monta mania: Mavericks fans might fall in love with "Monta basketball." For the second time in three home games, Monta Ellis put up at least 30 points and eight assists. He had 30 and nine against the Lakers, going 11-of-14 from the floor and 8-of-8 from the line.

"I just think being aggressive opens everything up for myself and the team," said Ellis, one of seven Mavs to score in double figures. "Me getting to the basket, they play me kind of different and it opens up for everyone else, so I’ve just got to continue to attack and make plays."

Awesome offense: The Mavs shot 52.1 percent from the floor and had 34 assists on 49 baskets, numbers that aren’t too far above their norm so far this season.

The Mavs rank second in the league in points per game (114.3), fourth in assists (25.3) and ninth in field goal percentage (46.4) after four games. That efficiency is especially impressive considering the Mavs are mixing in three new starters, including the backcourt of Jose Calderon and Ellis.

"We've got a bunch of veteran players, smart players," Dirk Nowitzki said, explaining why the offense has clicked so well right away. "There’s not really a selfish guy on this team. We all share the ball."

Kaman vs. Carlisle: Lakers center Chris Kaman, whose lone season in Dallas disappointed everyone involved, sounded off Tuesday morning about how "uptight" coach Rick Carlisle "played games" with him, particularly about the center’s inconsistent playing time.

Carlisle’s pregame response was politically correct: "It didn’t work out here with Chris, and I take my share of the responsibility for it."

But Carlisle couldn’t resist taking a little postgame jab at Kaman, who had 10 points and seven rebounds off the Lakers bench, interrupting Nowitzki’s dance-around-the-subject take on the issue in the locker room.

"I thought Kaman played great tonight," Carlisle said, butting in as Dirk delicately mentioned that the coach-center relationship went sour last season because Kaman wanted more playing time. "And I was shocked he didn’t play more minutes. It should be noted for the record that he played 17 minutes tonight and he averaged 20 here."

Dirk: I'd consider return to German national team

September, 10, 2013
9/10/13
9:54
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In the Olympic summer of 2016, Dirk Nowitzki will be 38 years old.

But Nowitzki says he'll indeed consider a return to international basketball that summer if he thinks his return to the German national squad can clinch a spot for his homeland in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

"If I'm still healthy enough and we have a chance to qualify, then I'd consider it," Nowitzki told ESPN.com late Monday.

Nowitzki was responding to statements made earlier Monday by Germany coach Frank Menz, who told ESPN.com's Mark Woods after Germany's elimination from the EuroBasket tournament in Slovenia that the face of the Dallas Mavericks has left open the possibility of a national-team return if the squad continues to progress.

Germany failed to advance past the group stage of this month's EuroBasket but turned heads with an upset of heavily favored France in its Group A opener. The Germans also prevented Israel from advancing out of the group with a narrow win in Monday's Group A finale despite playing without Nowitzki, NBA veteran center Chris Kaman and Atlanta Hawks rookie guard Dennis Schroeder.

Nowitzki, to this day, regards qualification for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing -- with Kaman's assistance -- as an achievement on par with the NBA championship he won in Dallas in 2011. It's Menz's belief that adding the likes of Nowitzki and Schroeder to the promising cast of unheralded shooters Germany has assembled would put the Germans back in Olympic contention.

(Click here to read the full story.)

Can Mavs still upgrade at center?

July, 16, 2013
7/16/13
4:07
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The Mavericks hoped to sign Dwight Howard this summer but will gladly settle for Samuel Dalembert at this point.

PODCAST
Marc Stein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why the Mavericks didn't want to match Cleveland's offer to Andrew Bynum, what's next for the Mavs and the possibility of Dirk Nowitzki ending his career elsewhere.

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Dalembert, who is primed to join his fifth team in five seasons, is a far cry from a perennial All-Star in his prime. However, a strong case can be made that Dalembert would be an upgrade as a stopgap big man in Dallas.

That bar admittedly isn’t much higher than Chris Kaman’s vertical leap. For the Mavs to upgrade at center, assuming the essentially-done deal with Brandan Wright doesn’t fall through, they simply must find a starter who is a better fit than Kaman.

For now, the focus is on recruiting Dalembert to split time with Wright and former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden as a low-risk reclamation project. The Mavs believe Dalembert will give them a big man whose game meshes better with Dirk Nowitzki’s than Kaman's did last season.

Kaman and Nowitzki are good pals dating back to their time together on the German national team that made the Olympics, but they simply weren’t a compatible pair in the NBA. The Mavs were outscored by an average of 5.8 points per 48 minutes with Kaman and Nowitzki on the court together, compared to a per-48 plus-0.7 for Elton Brand/Nowitzki and plus-12.7 for Wright/Nowitzki.

Much was made about the Dirk/Kaman duo’s defensive deficiencies, which Nowitzki himself acknowledged that issue by mentioning that, “Both of us can’t guard nobody.” Dalembert might have a reputation for possessing an inconsistent motor, but he’s a better shot-blocker, rim-protector and rebounder than Kaman.

The painful truth about the Kaman-Nowitzki pairing is that it didn’t work offensively. The proof is in the numbers: The Mavs averaged a miserable 91.7 points per 48 minutes with those two on the court.

That might be surprising considering that Kaman was billed as Dallas’ best offensive big man during the Dirk era, but the spacing simply didn’t work with Dirk joined by a jumper-happy center. Wright barely shoots the ball outside of the restricted area, but the Mavs lit it up when he was paired with Nowitzki (108.8 points per 48 minutes).

Dalembert’s offensive arsenal will never be confused with Hakeem Olajuwon’s, but he at least seems to understand his limitations. According to hoopdata.com, more than half of Dalembert’s shot attempts came at the rim last season, when he shot 54.2 percent from the floor. He’s also a good offensive rebounder (grabbing 14.2 percent of offensive rebound opportunities last season, which would have ranked third in the league if he had played enough games).

The best offensive big man in Mavs history was an $8 million bust in Dallas. The Mavs struck out on their swing at a superstar, but they can still upgrade at center at a much cheaper salary.
The fifth in ESPNDallas.com’s position-by-position series previewing the free agency market that opens July 1:

The Mavericks are preparing to make their best pitch to Dwight Howard.

Dirk Nowitzki will make it clear that he’s more than willing to shift into sidekick mode and gush about how great it is to the The Man for a franchise owned by Mark Cuban. And Dirk will stress that he plans to take a huge pay cut next summer to create the cap space necessary to construct a championship-caliber supporting cast.

Proven championship coach Rick Carlisle, whose concrete job security could appeal to a superstar who is sensitive about his developing coach-killer reputation, will explain exactly how the Mavs intend to tweak their offense to get the big man a bunch of touches.

Cuban and Donnie Nelson will emphasize their experience in building and sustaining a contender around a superstar. They’ll remind Howard of the Mavs’ recent run of 11 consecutive 50-win seasons, capped by the 2011 title, and get his imagination racing about the possibilities with him as the centerpiece and unofficial assistant GM in Dallas.

Cuban, the NBA’s favorite Shark Tank star, will also play to Howard’s fun-loving personality and desire to be loved. He’ll discuss a marketing strategy for Dwight in Dallas to help boost a Q rating that has taken hits during the last two injury-riddled, indecisive seasons. Cuban will also mention his history of taking PR bullets for his players – or just creating media firestorms to shift the attention – when the heat is on.

And Cuban might just subtly hint at some reasons the Houston Rockets might not be such a great fit for Howard, such as James Harden’s Kobe-like offensive game and Kevin McHale’s lack of coaching credentials.

What if all of that doesn’t work? Well, the Mavs still need to find a starting center.

Some big man candidates who will be in the free-agent market this summer:

Chris Kaman: Just kidding. Ain’t no way he’s coming back to Dallas after last season’s $8 million disaster.

Andrew Bynum: Feeling lucky? Want to take a chance on an occasionally dominant 25-year-old center with bad knees and attitude issues?

PODCAST
Dirk Nowitzki and ESPN's Chris Broussard join Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the possibility of Dwight Howard joining the Mavericks and how Dallas should approach the situation.

Listen Listen
The Mavs’ answer would depend on several factors: Dwight’s decision, their doctor’s opinion, the market for Bynum and how much they could manage the risk in his contract.

The 7-foot, 285-pound Bynum is talented enough to merit serious consideration even with all of those concerns. He averaged 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 2011-12 for the Lakers before being traded to the 76ers and sitting out all of last season.

Cuban proudly considers his medical staff the best in the NBA. Look at how Tyson Chandler thrived after arriving in Dallas with major foot and ankle problems. That could – and should – be appealing to Bynum.

As far as money goes, Bynum lost a ton of leverage when Philly’s new management pulled off a draft-night blockbuster deal to acquire Kentucky center Nerlens Noel. Will somebody still pay Bynum in the range of $12-14 million per year? Probably.

If that’s the case, the language of the contract will be key. It’s hard to imagine Cuban paying that kind of money to an injury-riddled headcase without team outs in the deal, perhaps with guarantees based on games played.

Al Jefferson: The Mavs almost traded for him before acquiring Chandler. Nowitzki has mentioned his name several times this week as a potential backup plan if the Mavs miss out on Howard.

The 6-foot-10, 289-pound Jefferson, who averaged 17.8 points and 9.2 rebounds for the Jazz last season, would be by far the best low-block scorer to ever be paired with Nowitzki. He’s vastly improved as a passer out of double-teams the last couple of years, increasing his assists and cutting down his turnovers. He’d take a ton of pressure off the 35-year-old face of the franchise on the offensive end.

What about defense? Oh, boy, a Dirk/Jefferson pairing might be a disaster. Despite being a little short for a big man, Jefferson is an adequate rim protector, but he’s Kaman-esque as a pick-and-roll defender. That isn’t going to get any better if his ample backside expands as the 28-year-old Jefferson ages.

The defensive concerns, along with dollars and the draft picks Minnesota was demanding, caused the Mavs to back away from trade talks involving Jefferson in the summer of 2010. But he might end up being the Mavs’ best big-man option this summer, especially if the price tag is around $10 million per year.

Tiago Splitter: The Mavs and their analytics really like the 28-year-old Brazilian. But so do the Spurs, and they’ll have the right to match any offer to the restricted free agent.

The 6-foot-11, 240-pound Splitter (10.3 points, 6.4 rebounds in 24.7 minutes last season) isn’t a go-to guy but is an outstanding roll man on pick-and-rolls. He has defensive limitations due to a lack of mobility, but Splitter’s toughness and intelligence also fit the mold of what the Mavs want.

Would the Spurs match an $8 million per year offer? We might find out.

Nikola Pekovic: There are a lot of reasons to love a rock-solid, 6-foot-11, 290-pound 27-year-old who averaged 16.3 points and 8.8 rebounds last season. But Minnesota is expected to match any offers for the restricted free agent unless perhaps a team decides to max him out. That won’t be the Mavs.

J.J. Hickson: He was a $4 million bargain last season, putting up 12.7 points and 10.4 rebounds for Portland. He’ll probably get at least a 100 percent raise. But Hickson is far from an ideal fit for the Mavs. At 6-foot-9, 242 pounds, he’s really a power forward who has played a lot of center. His size is a problem defensively as a center, and so is his tendency to make a ton of mental mistakes.

Brandan Wright: The Mavs and Wright have expressed mutual interest in him returning as a high-flying weapon off the bench. This could happen even if the Mavs sign Howard.

The Mavs have Wright’s Early Bird rights, so they can exceed the salary cap to sign him to a contract up to the league average ($5.3 million last season). They probably won’t go that high in the bidding for him, but if he ends up in the Ian Mahinmi range (four years, $16 million), there’s a better than average chance that Wright returns to Dallas.

Greg Oden: It sounds likely that the Oden reclamation project will happen in Miami, but the Mavs have been tracking his progress since he left Portland. They’ll continue to do so and could make a bid on him, depending on their doctor’s opinion. Obviously, they wouldn’t count on Oden to come in as a starter.

Elton Brand: The Mavs have much respect for the 6-foot-9, 254-pound Brand. He was a good solider and great presence in the locker room while averaging 7.2 points and 6.0 rebounds as an undersized backup center last season. They wouldn’t mind having him back in that role, but they just wouldn’t pay much to bring him back. Maybe not more than the minimum.

Buy or Bye: Chris Kaman

April, 25, 2013
4/25/13
11:30
PM CT
ESPNDallas.com will estimate the market value for each of the Mavericks' eight free agents and examine their worth to the Mavs in a once-per-day series.

Chris Kaman


SportsNation

Should the Mavericks buy into or say goodbye to Chris Kaman?

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    88%

Discuss (Total votes: 3,157)

Let’s put it this way: Chris Kaman isn’t going to invite coach Rick Carlisle to join him on one of his beloved hunting trips any time soon.

Unless, well ... never mind.

It’s an understatement to say that Kaman’s season in Dallas didn’t work out as well as anticipated. His frequent defensive lapses didn’t endear Kaman to Carlisle, resulting in Kaman spending much of the second half of the season on the fringe of the rotation, failing to get off the bench in several games.

“Frustrating,” was the politically correct way that Kaman often put it. Needless to say, that feeling was mutual.

While Kaman has repeatedly said he’d like to return to Dallas, it smacks of a veteran with precious little leverage who isn’t going to publicly close any doors. The Mavs’ quest to replace Tyson Chandler needs to move on to another big man.

The simple fact of the matter is that Kaman and German Olympic teammate Dirk Nowitzki don’t fit well together in an NBA frontcourt. With that duo playing, the Mavs were outscored by 59 points in 492 minutes this season.

As the Mavs rebuild around Nowitzki, they must find a starting center who is a better complement to him.

2012-13 stats: Averaged 10.5 points on 50.7 percent shooting, 5.6 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 0.8 blocks in 20.7 minutes.

Age: 30

Comps:

Nene Hilario – Averaged 12.6 points on 48.0 percent shooting, 6.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 0.6 blocks in 27.2 minutes per game. Signed five-year, $65 million deal in 2011.

Robin Lopez – Averaged 11.3 points on 53.4 percent shooting, 5.6 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 1.6 blocks in 26.0 minutes per game. Signed three-year, $15.4 million deal (last two seasons not guaranteed) in 2012.

Spencer Hawes – Averaged 11.0 points on 46.4 percent shooting, 7.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.4 blocks in 27.2 minutes per game. Signed two-year, $13.1 million deal in 2012.

Byron Mullens – Averaged 10.6 points on 38.5 percent shooting, 6.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 0.6 blocks in 26.9 minutes per game. Rookie contract that paid him $2.25 million last season expires this offseason.

Andray Blatche – Averaged 10.3 points on 51.2 percent shooting, 5.1 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 0.7 blocks in 19.0 minutes per game. Played this season for veteran’s minimum salary.

Estimated contract: It’s hard to imagine Kaman getting anything more than one-year offers. He might get half of the $8 million he made this season.

Buzz: Omar the barber visited the Mavs

April, 15, 2013
4/15/13
6:33
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DALLAS -- The Mavericks are a much better-looking team Monday.

[+] EnlargeDirk Nowitzki
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsDirk Nowitzki shaved right after Sunday's victory finally took the Mavs to .500, while many of his teammates waited to clean up on Monday.
The .500 beards aren’t all gone, but they’re much better manicured, at least in most cases. Center Chris Kaman is the exception, as is often the case. He didn’t shave a single hair on his face, saying he intends to grow a Duck Dynasty-style beard.

“People are complaining about it,” Kaman said. “Don’t worry about it. It’s my beard.”

Dirk Nowitzki was the lone Mav to shave immediately after Sunday’s win in New Orleans. The majority of the bearded Mavs waited for Omar the barber’s American Airlines Center visit Monday afternoon. Vince Carter, O.J. Mayo and Jae Crowder got their beards trimmed and lined up. Bernard James, a late addition to the pact, went with a Fu Manchu that features a long goatee.

Elton Brand apparently didn’t get the memo about Omar’s house call. He went with a do-it-yourself Fu Manchu, leaving some scraggly sideburns.

“I didn’t know he was coming today,” Brand said. “I didn’t want to be the only one [who didn’t shave]. I actually thought about bringing it into the summer, keeping it to remind me about being under .500, make me work harder.”

Dirk Nowitzki: 'That shave felt amazing'

April, 14, 2013
4/14/13
9:32
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NEW ORLEANS -- It took the Dallas Mavericks 121 days to get back to .500.

It took Dirk Nowitzki maybe 90 seconds to get rid of the beard he has been growing for most of that time.

“That shave felt amazing,” Nowitzki said after a 107-89 victory over the New Orleans Hornets improved the Mavs’ record to 40-40. “There was some food caught in there from a few weeks ago.”

That’s a slight exaggeration, but Nowitzki’s forest of facial hair put the power of his electric razor to quite the test. Unlike the rest of the bearded Mavs, Nowitzki couldn’t wait for the morning to destroy the evidence from the pact they made in late January to not shave again until climbing back to .500.

After the final buzzer sounded, Nowitzki made a beeline for the Mavs’ locker room, picked up his razor and began bushwhacking. The beard was gone by the time coach Rick Carlisle addressed the team. After that meeting, Nowitzki and his trusty razor “cleaned up the rest on the neck and behind the ears and the nose hair a little bit.”

Said O.J. Mayo: “I need a barber to get mine. I’ve got to go see Omar the barber. I might get too trigger happy.”

Can you blame the Mavs' 25,000-point man for being in such a hurry to get rid of the beard? Never mind that he claims that his wife, Jessica, has refused to kiss him for a couple of months. It has been a long, tough climb back to .500 for a franchise accustomed to 50-win seasons.

The Mavs hit rock bottom in mid-January, when they dipped 10 games below .500 for the first time in a dozen years after a stretch of 13 losses in 15 games, with Nowitzki making his surgery-delayed season debut midway through that miserable run. Mayo hatched the beard pact a couple of weeks later, with Nowitzki, Vince Carter, Elton Brand, Jae Crowder, Chris Kaman and the since-traded Dahntay Jones taking part.

The hope was that they’d shave off the beards before resembling the Duck Dynasty dudes -- and en route to the franchise’s 13th consecutive playoff berth. Alas, that isn’t the way it went down.

The Mavs are a more-than-respectable 27-17 since the season’s low point, which projects to a 50-win pace over the course of 82 games. But they dug themselves such a huge hole that near perfection was needed to reach the playoffs.

The final win needed to get back to .500 proved to be especially pesky. After Mayo mentioned Omar the barber would be in the building, the Indiana Pacers blew out the Mavs by 25 points. The Los Angeles Lakers whipped the Mavs by 20 the next time Dallas had a shot to shave, essentially dooming the Mavs’ playoff hopes. And the sorry Phoenix Suns somehow managed to snap a 10-game losing streak with an 11-point win over the Mavs during Wednesday’s potential break-even game.

“We had a chance and laid an egg every single time,” Nowitzki said.

No wonder Nowitzki had no patience when it came to his postgame shave.

Hitting .500 isn’t exactly the kind of feat the Mavs have celebrated during Nowitzki’s Hall of Fame career, but it is quite an accomplishment given the circumstances of this season. It was also a necessary step if they’re going to reach the new goal of finishing the season with a winning record, which would require beating the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday and the Hornets on Wednesday.

“This means a lot to this franchise,” Nowitzki said. “This franchise has been a winning team for a long, long time and now the playoff streak is officially over, but we can still make it a winning season and feel good about ourselves going into the summer, feeling good [about] what we did with eight, nine new guys and me being out for so long. I think we can still feel good about ourselves, what we’ve done since the All-Star break. We have a decent record, I think, after the All-Star break, so it’s been fun the last couple of months.

“Before that, there was some rough patches.”

Amazingly, there weren’t any patches left of Nowitzki’s beard by the time he met the media Sunday night. If the Mavs’ superstar actually had an agent, he just might land an endorsement deal with the company that makes his little electric razor.
DALLAS -- Elton Brand isn't quite ready to return.

Brand will miss his fourth consecutive game because of a sore right calf. The Mavs thought Brand might be available for tonight's game against the Suns, but the decision for him to sit out was made after his pregame meeting with the team's medical staff.

Brand's injury is part of the reason that Chris Kaman is getting his most minutes since January. Kaman responded by averaging 14.8 points and 8.8 rebounds on the Mavs' recent four-game trip, including a season-high 26 points and 11 rebounds in Sunday's win over Portland.
That might have been a money game for Chris Kaman.

Kaman opted to sign a one-year, $8 million deal with the Mavericks last summer instead of taking a similar offer from the Trail Blazers. Considering how he’s bounced between the starting lineup and the end of the bench, it’s hard to believe that Kaman will return to Dallas next season. Portland could be interested again in signing him, however.

Kaman certainly made a strong case Sunday night that he can help the Blazers, who will again have a hole to fill at center with J.J. Hickson entering free agency.

Not to damn his 26-point, 11-rebound, two-block outing with faint praise, but this was arguably the best performance by Kaman during this frustrating season.

Kaman’s season-high point total matching the highest scoring game by a Mavs center during the Dirk Nowitzki era. He also recorded his third double-double of the season – and first since Jan. 2 – despite playing only 25 minutes.

“Kaman was great from the beginning of the game,” coach Rick Carlisle told reporters. “He hit his first shot, was really active on defense, rebounded like crazy and just gave us a terrific all-around game.”

This season, however, has been far from great for the 10-year veteran 7-footer. Billed as the best offensive big man the Mavs have had to pair with Nowitzki, his former teammate on the German Olympic team, Kaman expected to be the full-time starter when he decided to come to Dallas. However, in large part due to his defensive struggles, Kaman has been demoted to part of a starting center committee, playing less than 10 minutes in eight games last month.

Carlisle went back to Kaman as the starter for this road trip, and the former All-Star responded by averaging 14.8 points and 8.8 rebounds while shooting 57.1 percent from the floor in 22.8 minutes per game.

Kaman has been honest about his frustrations, mentioning several times that he feels pressure as he prepares to be a free agent again. But he’s remained professional about his situation and proved during this trip that he stayed ready to play even while riding the pine.

“They’re paying me money to play basketball,” Kaman said on the Mavs’ television broadcast. “That’s my job. … I’m here to do a job and be a professional, and that’s what I try to do.”

Kaman might be on Portland’s payroll next season. His performance Sunday night at the Rose Garden probably reminded the Blazers’ brass why they were interested in the big man last summer.

A few more notes from the Mavs’ win that salvaged a split on the road trip:

1. Trix’s trip: Shawn Marion accomplished something on this trip he hadn’t done since March 2011: He scored 20-plus points in two straight games.

Marion starred in the Mavs’ two wins to end the trip. He lit up the Kings for 25 points and 12 rebounds and followed that with a 20-point, seven-rebound performance in Portland. Marion was 20-of-31 from the floor in those two games.

“Marion’s on a roll here,” Carlisle said. “He’s scoring, rebounding and making plays. He did a terrific job again tonight.”

2. Dirk’s difficulties: This was a tough trip for Dirk Nowitzki, who was as hot as he’d been all season when the Mavs left for their week away, having just torched the Bulls for a season-high 35 points on 14-of-17 shooting to carry the Mavs to a miraculous comeback win.

Nowitzki averaged only 11.5 points on 40.9 percent shooting on the four-game trip. His production in the fourth quarters on this trip was particularly terrible: a total of one point, coming on a free throw well after the Mavs’ fate had been decided in their blowout loss to the Lakers.

Nowitzki didn’t play in the fourth quarter Sunday due to a foot/ankle injury, which he suffered earlier in the game and the Mavs consider minor.

3. Within a whisker of .500: For the third time in the last two weeks, the Mavs will have a chance to get back to .500 and earn the right to finally shave.

But Vince Carter, one of the originators of the .500 beard pact, isn’t in any mood to discuss facial hair before the Mavs face the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.

“Just win the next game,” Carter said. “That’s all I care about. If it entails having an even record, fine. I’m not going to talk about it. Just win the next game.”
DENVER – Coach Rick Carlisle prefers to keep his starting lineup under wraps until the NBA-mandated 16 minutes before tip-off, but Chris Kaman cleared up any mystery about who would start at center Thursday night for the Mavericks.

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Rick Carlisle joins Galloway & Company to discuss changing up his starting lineup, Brittney Griner possibly playing for the Mavericks and much more.

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“I’m starting tonight,” Kaman said, “but that’s all I know.”

In other words, Kaman doesn’t know whether he’ll play two minutes or 32 minutes. It’s been that kind of season for the 10-year veteran center who signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the expectation of being a starter.

The 7-foot Kaman, billed as Dallas’ best offensive center during the Dirk Nowitzki era, has started 44 games this season but played sparingly since returning from a concussion six weeks ago. Kaman had played a total of only 12 minutes in the previous four games before getting the start Tuesday night against the Lakers.

With Elton Brand dealing with a sore calf that might sideline him against the Nuggets, the Mavs need Kaman now. Kaman has handled a frustrating season like a pro, preparing to play a significant role even while getting two DNP-CDs in a span of three games last week.

“Obviously, I’m frustrated,” Kaman said. “I probably have said some negative things in practices and stuff like that out loud, just being frustrated. But I’m never going to throw anybody under the bus. I don’t think that’s the way to go. It doesn’t benefit anybody in this situation. It makes me look bad. It makes other people look bad.

“I’d rather just do my job and try to do the best I can do at it.”

Kaman, who is averaging 10.7 points and 5.4 rebounds in 20.9 minutes per game, actually did his job pretty well in Tuesday night’s loss. There were some defensive lapses – a primary factor in his inconsistent playing time – but Kaman scored 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting and grabbed six rebounds in 20 minutes. The Mavs lost by 20, but they were outscored by only two points with Kaman on the floor.

“Coming in and signing here, I thought he was going to get a lot more minutes and a bigger role, but I’m proud of him,” said Nowitzki, who has been close to Kaman since the American-born center played a key role in the German national team qualifying for the 2008 Olympics. “These last couple of weeks, he’s just rolled with the punches and worked out. I saw him run on the treadmill every day, just trying to keep in shape, and I think it showed last game in L.A.”

Did that performance earn Kaman more minutes?

“I’ve been very consistent all year on saying that Kaman is a valuable player for us,” Carlisle said. “I like the way he played the other night. You can do the math from there.”

That math often hasn't worked out the way Kaman wants.

"I can take it and go negative with it and flip it around and just be the worst person ever and try to disrespect everybody and try to figure everything out, but that’s just not my style," Kaman said. "I’m frustrated obviously about the situation, but it’s not something that I can control. I just want to continue to try to improve and keep myself in good shape and ready to play, and when I get the opportunities, try to do the best that I can do."

Rapid Reaction: Lakers 101, Mavericks 81

April, 3, 2013
4/03/13
12:27
AM CT
How it happened: Kobe Bryant and his supporting cast crushed the Mavericks’ playoff hopes.

In a game that all but mathematically eliminated the Mavs from the playoffs, Bryant produced the 19th triple-double of his career, stuffing the box score with 23 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, four steals and two blocks while playing all but the final 56 seconds. Then again, it’s no surprise to see a future Hall of Famer come up with that kind of performance in a critical game.

Nor was it surprising for perennial All-Star center Dwight Howard to post a double-double (24 points, 12 rebounds).

On the other hand, it was hard to see a double-double coming from Lakers reserve forward Earl Clark, who had 17 points and 12 rebounds. Clark had a total of 16 points and 13 rebounds in the previous six games, when the Lakers sputtered to a 2-4 record.

Clark’s five-point possession -- a layup, missed free throw and 3-pointer -- after a timeout in the third quarter killed the momentum of the Mavs, who had scored 11 consecutive points to trim the Lakers’ lead to five. Clark’s spurt accounted for the majority of a 9-0 run that made the Lakers’ lead comfortable again.

The Mavs never mounted another serious threat.

Dallas superstar Dirk Nowitzki, who was so spectacular in comeback wins over the Los Angeles Clippers and Chicago Bulls last week, never got going Tuesday night. He finished with only 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting.

Surprise starting center Chris Kaman led the Mavs with 14 points, but that wasn’t nearly enough for Dallas to keep up with Kobe’s Lakers.

What it means: The Mavs won’t be reaching for their razors after failing to get to .500 again, and it’s a major reach to see them making the playoffs. Dallas (36-38) is 2 games behind the Utah Jazz and Lakers in the fight for the West’s final seed. Both teams hold the tiebreaker over the Mavs due to winning the season series.

Play of the game: Bryant made a move so sweet that it left Shawn Marion lunging at the air and slammed over Elton Brand. Dribbling near the right elbow, Bryant hesitated before blowing by Marion and then took off for the tomahawk before Brand could get in position to seriously challenge him at the rim, not that it necessarily would have mattered.

Stat of the night: The Mavs are 2-13 on the road this season against West teams that currently have winning records. One of those wins was against the Lakers on opening night.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsD. Nowitzki 6.2
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9