Dirk Nowitski and Chris Kaman Have Played Together for Germany
How ironic it is that when Brendan Haywood was signed, he was the best center the Mavs had on the roster since James Donaldson? And then along came Tyson Chandler. When Chandler left the Mavericks, so did defense and rebounding down low, as the Mavs were mauled inside much of last year by Brook Lopez, Marc Gasol, Andrew Bynum and others. While it was popular to say the Mavs defense actually improved last year because their average points allowed dropped, it didn't take much attention to actual games to see what was happening in the paint.
Haywood is too expensive to keep for what he offers. Ian Mahimi has upside offensively, but he is foul prone on the defensive end so he can't be your only option. While Brandan Wright has an incredibly bright future, he doesn't have the size to guard NBA centers. Drafting tough defensive-minded 6'10" C/F Bernard James from Florida State was a step in the right direction, but it wouldn't hurt to shore up the inside even further, particularly if you get a solid offensive player as well.
There are a handful of good free agents that can offer not only defensive improvement but offense as well, which is why the Mavericks should stay away from looking at one-sided options such as Brook Lopez, who won't likely leave New Jersey anyway.
Chris Kaman seems to stand out as a big man with an all-around solid game and a reputation for good defense and toughness. Playing with Dirk in the past is a big plus, and the only downside is his injury history.
Marcus Camby would be a workable short-term option and of course, there has been much discussion about taking a chance on Greg Oden, who, if healthy, could be a force. There are also a couple of lower-profile up-and-comers such as Jordan Hill and Marreese Speights, who could contribute without breaking the bank. Any of these options would be an improvement.
If no viable centers can be worked out, perhaps a solid double-double power forward such as Kris Humphries or Brandon Bass might suffice. With one of these options the Mavs would likely make dramatic strides defensively, especially if Shawn Marion and Delonte West hang around with new additions James and Jared Cunningham.