Dallas Mavericks: Joel Przybilla

Are Mavs still in market for a backup center?

August, 3, 2012
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From the start of free agency more than a month ago, the Dallas Mavericks have expressed interest in veteran big man Joel Przybilla. In fact, Dallas was interested in him last season before he decided to return to his former team, the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Mavs currently have a full 15-man roster, but that doesn't necessarily mean pieces can't be moved to fill another need. The Mavs are long on combo guards and short on size with 7-foot center Chris Kaman slated to be backed up by 6-foot-9 Elton Brand, lanky Brandan Wright and rookie Bernard James.

The 7-foot-1, 255-pound Przybilla has yet to make a decision on where he'll play next season, but the 12-year veteran is said to be ready to make up his mind later Friday, according to a report from Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick. The Mavs are believed to be in the running with the Blazers and Milwaukee Bucks, the team Przybilla started his career with and played with for three-and-a-half seasons.

The Mavs would seem a distant third in this race if they are indeed genuinely interested in toying with the roster to bring in Przybilla.

The Bucks traded center Andrew Bogut to Golden State in March in a deal that included undersized Baylor center Ekpe Udoh moving to Milwaukee. He'll pair with offseason trade acquisition Samuel Dalembert. Portland, where Przybilla has played the last eight seasons (with the exception a brief stint in Charlotte following a 2011 deadline trade), is in dire need of a veteran big man with only rookie Meyers Leonard and overseas project Joel Freeland on the roster.

Przybilla averaged 2.0 points and 5.1 rebounds in 16.6 minutes a game last season for the Blazers.

Should focus shift off Delonte West to a rebounder?

July, 18, 2012
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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.

[+] EnlargeDelonte West
Danny Bollinger/Getty ImagesThe 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:

[+] EnlargeKenyon Martin
Kelvin Kuo/US PresswireDallas 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).

Needing centers, two Mavs have eye on

July, 1, 2012
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The Dallas Mavericks have shown initial interest as free agency opens in two 7-footers, Joel Przybilla and Hasheem Thabeet, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed.

Brendan Haywood remains under contract for three more seasons, but if Deron Williams decides he wants to play for the Dallas Mavericks, Haywood is a prime amnesty candidate so the club can create cap space for Williams.

It also appears that Ian Mahinmi will be changing teams in free agency, so Dallas could be looking at a gaping hole in the middle. If Williams does agree to sign, dollars will be tight to plug the hole.

Dallas had interest in Przybilla, 32, last season when he put off retirement and returned to the Portland Trail Blazers at mid-season. The 12-year veteran has battled injuries and averaged 2.0 points and 5.1 rebounds in 27 games last season with the Blazers. The source said Przybilla does plan to play a 13th season.

The 7-foot-3 Thabeet has been a draft bust since the Memphis Grizzles picked the former UConn Huskies center with the second overall pick in 2009. He's played for three teams and in just 135 games in his three seasons in the league -- including a 2010 demotion to the D-League, becoming the highest-drafted player to be sent down.

Thabeet, 25, was traded by the Houston Rockets in March to Portland, a deal that netted Houston center Marcus Camby, who is also an unrestricted free agent. Mavs interest in acquiring the 38-year-old Camby, who averaged 9.0 boards a game last season for Portland and Houston, has not been confirmed.

Others the Mavs could show interest in are New Orleans Hornets center Chris Kaman, an unrestricted free agent, and Indiana Pacers restricted free agent Roy Hibbert. Dallas will likely only be in the market for either if Williams re-signs with the Brooklyn. The Pacers are expected to match any offer made for the 7-2 Hibbert, whose stock rose dramatically with postseason performance and could be offered a max deal.

Youth takes back seat in Denver deal

December, 13, 2011
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Youth? Who needs youth?

The Dallas Mavericks are in win-now mode for this season and will transfer to hot-pursuit mode this summer when Deron Williams, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard can become free agents.

Any notion that the Mavs care at this moment about developing young talent was tossed aside with the just-completed trade that will send shooting guard Rudy Fernandez, an apparent unhappy camper anyway who will likely resume his career next season in Spain, but also lanky, small forward Corey Brewer to the Denver Nuggets for a 2016 second-round pick, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein.

Brewer, entering just his fourth NBA season, joined the Mavs in mid-season and signed a three-year contract, and did so with some fanfare. He's a highly likable young player with boundless energy, a long and effective defender, but whose game still needs to develop a jump shot for him to be considered a complete player, especially on a veteran-laden club on a quest for a repeat.

Brewer got caught in a numbers crunch with the addition of veteran wings Vince Carter and Lamar Odom. Carter will likely take over as the starting shooting guard with Odom possibly coming off the bench as a tag-team with small forward Shawn Marion.

The move wipes about $5.2 million off the books for this season -- double that including luxury-tax savings. Those deductions leave the Mavs just over the $70.3 million luxury tax threshold. It also leaves them with two roster spaces open to target two more veterans on minimum deals, perhaps a center such as still available free-agent big man Joel Przybilla, or others. Center is Dallas' top position of need.

In the process, the Mavs continue to create additional cap space -- about $3 million with Brewer off the books -- for next summer's highly anticipated free agency.

Dallas' only players below the age of 30 are Delonte West (28), Rodrigue Beaubois (23), Dominique Jones (23), Ian Mahinmi (25) and Brandan Wright.

The average age of a projected starting lineup that would include Jason Kidd, Carter, Marion, Dirk Nowitzki and Brendan Haywood is 34. It will require coach Rick Carlisle to be creative with his rotations during a 66-game season to be played over 123 days. But, the Mavs believe they have the depth to handle it.

As for that youth, the Mavs will look to address that issue in the summer with a rarity around here, a potential abundance of cap space.

Writing sure looks to be on free-agent wall

December, 7, 2011
12/07/11
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For Dallas Mavericks fans still holding out hope that Mark Cuban would bring the team back to defend its title, J.J. Barea became the latest to likely extinguish that hope.

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David Gasser/LatinContent/Getty ImagesJ.J. Barea is the latest to express concern that he will be waving goodbye to the champion Mavs.
Barea told ESPNDallas.com Tuesday night that his free-agent discussions with the Mavs aren't going as he hoped and he now believes he will follow Tyson Chandler and Caron Butler out of Dallas.

"It’s not looking good here in Dallas, I don’t think. I’m disappointed. I wasn’t expecting this," said Barea, who added, "It’s disappointing they’re not going to do what needs to be done to bring back the team."

It certainly appears that Dallas is prepared to let Chandler -- who first announced his belief that he will be playing elsewhere last week -- Butler, Barea and perhaps also DeShawn Stevenson walk. Such a scenario would set a plan in motion to get below the salary cap next summer to be able to make a serious run at potential free agents Deron Williams, Chris Paul or Dwight Howard -- assuming any of the three reach the open market.

Howard and Paul could be traded before this season even starts with the Mavs lacking impact pieces that would probably be needed to entice New Orleans or Orlando to send their stars to Dallas.

"It’s going to be very interesting to see how things unfold," Mavs forward Shawn Marion said prior to a workout Tuesday morning with a handful of teammates at the American Airlines Center. "But, we’ve got to stay optimistic and stay positive and hopefully we’ll be able to keep most of our team intact. That’s the positive side of it, hopefully we’ll be able to, but you never know."

Dallas has 10 players under contract and if the Mavs don't re-sign their free agents it would seem logical that they will seek to fill remaining rosters spots (13 minimum on the 15-man roster) with one-year, minimum salary veterans. Brian Cardinal would seem to fit that bill, as would Peja Stojakovic.

A few players on the Mavs' radar might be able to get better deals elsewhere. Agent Bill Duffy said Tuesday that power forward Jeff Foster, who played four of his 12 seasons at Indiana under Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, as well as several other clients, possibly centers Francisco Elson and Joel Przybilla, and guard Earl Watson, have received interest from the Mavs, but are entertaining more aggressive overtures elsewhere.

"With whatever roster we come back with, your core nucleus is intact and you have a lot to be excited about," guard Jason Terry said Monday. "Again, we’re still a contender. We’re right there whatever happens."

Chandler is believed to be the No. 1 choice of Golden State, and Butler is visiting with at least four teams this week.

It certainly has been an interesting week starting last Wednesday when teams were allowed to begin speaking to player-agents. Many believed the Mavs' top priority was re-signing Chandler and then bringing back the others to make a run at a repeat. They'll make that run, but apparently without some key pieces, and with both eyes fixated toward a risk-filled summer.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsS. Marion 6.5
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9