NBA Amnesty and More 2012: Who's Next for the Mavericks?
While the NBA draft and much of the free-agent mayhem had come and gone even before signings officially began, there is still quite a bit of movement around the league and for some teams who were quiet in the early stages, the NBA's amnesty provision and a few remaining trades are an opportunity to scoop up desirable players at a bargain prices as well as free up cap space by setting selected expensive players free.
The Mavericks watched as their primary targets signed with other teams but jumped into the fray, signing free-agent center Chris Kaman and trading center Ian Mahinmi for Indiana point guard Darren Collison and forward Dahntay Jones.
With a few other key pieces on the market, Dallas has used the amnesty clause in-house and will be looking to make an offer on other players as well as looking at additional trades.
GOING: Brendan Haywood
There have been whispers about using the amnesty clause on Shawn Marion since last year, which is amazing when you consider his contribution to the team as opposed to Haywood's. Fortunately, the mentions of amnesty for Haywood have been more like screams.
At the time Brendan Haywood came to the Mavericks, he was the best center the franchise had seen in nearly two decades. Averaging close to a double-double with the Wizards, the Mavericks finally decided to bring some beef into the post and promised Haywood the starting job, only to sign Tyson Chandler a short time later. After Chandler left following the 2011 championship season, Haywood was back to being the starter, but his numbers didn't resemble what he accomplished with Washington, and in particular, he performed poorly against the Oklahoma City Thunder when the team was ousted in the first round of the 2012 playoffs.
With a generous contract, Haywood's modest numbers don't add up for a team sorely lacking in offense, defense and rebounding in the low post.
While backup Iah Mahinmi was traded away shortly before the amnesty period, Chris Kaman was brought on board with a one-year contract to replace Haywood as Dallas exercised its amnesty option in order to free up cap space and, in addition, should get a major upgrade in production. Haywood would have been a decent choice as a starter if his numbers had been better or was surrounded by superstars, aka the Miami Heat, or even useful as a backup but for a reasonable price. For $55 million over six years, however, the Mavericks weren't getting much bang for the buck, making him a prime candidate for amnesty.
UPDATE: Haywood went through waivers via amnesty and was claimed by the Charlotte Bobcats
COMING? Elton Brand
Since the first mention of amnesty on Elton Brand, Dallas has been rumored to be interested.
Brand has been a model of consistency throughout his career. For a decade with the Bulls and Clippers, he was pretty much a lock as a 20/10 guy shooting 50 percent. Moving to the Sixers in 2008, Brand continued to put up decent if unspectacular numbers, but last year, he played the fewest minutes of since joining the league and had a career-low scoring average. While Brand may just be a player with a diminished role on a young team, most observers feel he's in the twilight of a stellar career.
Pairing Brand with Kaman would be an interesting twist, since their pairing in L.A. yielded the only significant Clippers playoff activity in the history of the franchise prior to the current incarnation. Brand still presents a formidable post presence, but with the ascension of Brandan Wright and the addition of Kaman and Bernard James, the question is how much of an asset will he be as opposed to working with the young bigs?
Brand has only one years left on his contract, which fits in with Dallas' desire to preserve cap space for a hopefully less futile run at big name free agents in 2013. Unless it is determined that Brand provides more as a seasoned veteran than working with the young bigs or there is some sort of trade opportunity, signing him is a questionable move.
UPDATE FRIDAY, JULY 13 Mavericks claim Elton Brand off waivers
COMING? Luis Scola
The next big name to be mentioned in spinning the amnesty wheel would be right down I-45 from Big D.
Luis Scola spent a over a decade in Europe before finally landing in the NBA. As a result, he's only been in the league a short time yet already 32. Drafted by the Spurs in 2002, he finally made it to Texas in 2007, but with the Rockets, where he's been ever since. The Rockets have now elected to amnesty Scola in order to further their cause in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes.
Generally considered a superior player inside with a solid mid-range jumper, Scola's numbers were down slightly from career highs during his previous three years in Houston, but still more than respectable. As someone with a still-potent inside game, he seems to showing his age less than Elton Brand, but the same question of whether signing him as opposed to working with younger power forwards is the best move. Scola does have a little more in his offensive arsenal than Brand or Brendan Wright, but he also has two years remaining on his contract.
UPDATE, SUN. JULY 15: Luis Scola was claimed off waivers by the Phoenix Suns
COMING? José Calderón
Those wacky Mavericks. Just when you thought they were going to head into a season without a point guard, they start looking as if they might have more than one.
With Ian Mahinmi traded to the Pacers for Darrin Collison and Dahntay Jones, the immediate assumption was that Collison would take over the reins in Dallas. However, with Kyle Lowry headed to Toronto, Jose Calderon almost immediately voiced in interest in heading south and talks with the Mavericks ensued.
Calderon has been near the top of the league leaders in assists more than once, and while he doesn't shoot the lights out, is a reliable modest double figure scorer. Not considered to be lightning-quick or an exceptional defender, pairing him with Collison would provide an interesting contrast if one of them would accept a role coming off the bench. Of course, with multiple other combo guards on the roster, having another pure point guard may not be the best move for Dallas as opposed to filling the hole created by the departure of Jason Terry or signing other potent big men. The Mavericks may also want to evaluate if they can parlay acquisition of one of these point guards into a trade for another cog in the wheel while keeping the guy they feel is best suited for Rick Carlisle's system and their new lineup.
COMING? Darko Miličić
OK, nobody has mentioned Darko and the Mavericks. So I thought I would.
What could be better for the Mavericks than the "Human Victory Cigar?"
By all accounts Darko is a pretty decent guy. In 2010, he offered to pay to help five Chinese children suffering from Batten disease, and after his NBA career ends, he intends to fulfill his obligation to the Serbian military. That may be coming sooner than originally expected.
Forever to be known as the second pick in 2003 after LeBron James and ahead of players such as Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, Darko has unfortunately failed to impress.
He showed flashes of potential in Orlando, averaging 2.4 blocks per game in his first 20 games as a member of the Magic, and in the 2007 playoffs, he increased his scoring by four points per game to 12.3 on 58.8 percent shooting. Afterward, his play see-sawed during his stint in Memphis, and he lost his starting job to Marc Gasol.
A combination of injuries and poor play continued to hold him back, although he eventually landed a bigger contract and more playing time with the Toronto Raptors, the end result of which was a very Haywood-esque eight points and five rebounds in his best seasons, plummeting to half of that last year.
A prime candidate for amnesty with his generous contract and modest production, Millocic may have been the first player this year to receive the news of his release.
OK, so I don't think the Mavs are interested in Darko, and I don't think they should be unless he can be signed for the league minimum and they don't have confidence in the other bigs on the roster or prefer to play them at power forward.
With only a small number of players on the market via amnesty this summer and no word yet on Andray Blatche, I didn't want Darko overlooked especially if he's headed back to Serbia for military duty.
The Mavericks are doing a decent job of recovering from two catastrophic summers in a row, signing rookies and veterans that should make them competitive if not a contender. Brand, Scola and Calderon look to be good possibilities for rotation players or trading chips, and only time will tell where the pieces fall.
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