Confusion abounds for the Dallas Mavericks.
This was supposed to be a prosperous summer, an offseason that made people remember why it is the Mavs dissolved a championship team, almost immediately after they won a title.
Last summer was supposed to be one in the same. Deron Williams. Nowitzki. Cap space. Similar visions of brilliance existed leading into free agency.
Now, just like last summer, the Mavs are preparing to emerge from the free-agency fray without a superstar, or even a clear sense of direction.
So long as Dirk is still prepared to take the floor, however, the show must go on. Dallas must do its best to field a competitive outfit, then go from there.
Jose Calderon, Devin Harris and Wayne Ellington are already aboard, but they're just the beginning. The Mavericks need more bodies.
Preferably ones that have a shot at keeping Dirk content for as long as possible.
Years Pro: 2
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: N/A
The Mavericks don't just need bodies—they need big bodies.
Right now, the Mavericks don't have a formidable force down low, and they need one. Bad.
As luck would have it, there's a certain 7-footer itching to make a comeback, something the Mavs are well aware of.
According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Mavs have already joined the Greg Oden sweepstakes after missing out on Andrew Bynum.
Targeting a big man with degenerative knees who hasn't appeared in a game in nearly four years is hardly ideal, but Dallas is running out of options.
When healthy, which was basically never, Oden proved he could hold his own in the post. Through 21 games of the 2009-10 campaign, he averaged 11.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in just under 24 minutes of action. Extrapolated, that comes out to 16.7 points, 12.8 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per 36 minutes.
In other words, wow.
If Oden is even a semblance of healthy, the Mavs will have a young, capable-of-dominating behemoth setting up shop on the block. How could they say no to that?
Years Pro: 11
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 6.7 points, 5.9 rebounds, 0.4 assists, 0.4 steals and 1.1 blocks on 54.2 percent shooting.
It almost pains me to admit that the Mavericks should chase Samuel Dalembert, but once again, these are semi-desperate times.
Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Dallas in interested in bringing on the veteran center, and it's not difficult to see why.
Oden presents no guarantees whatsoever. In the event that he's unable to take the floor, you don't want to be left starting Dirk at center. Even if he is healthy, you don't want him playing extensive minutes. You need to find another big.
At 32, Dalembert is still a serviceable post defender and voluminous rebounder. With the Milwaukee Bucks, he tallied 14.7 points, 13 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per 36 minutes, intriguing numbers if you're sitting where the Mavericks are.
On most nights, Dalembert won't give you much on the offensive end. Clad with Dirk, Calderon and Harris, offense isn't necessarily the issue. Rebounding, shot-blocking—those are the aspects of the game Dallas is concerned about most. Dalembert presents a potential resolution for each.
Years Pro: 11
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 12.4 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocks on 50.7 percent shooting
Don't ask me why, but I would love to see Dirk, Shawn Marion and Andrei Kirilenko on the same team.
Adding Kirilenko next to Dirk and Marion may seem a bit redundant, and there's no doubt Rick Carlisle would have to tinker with the rotation, but without a proven shot-blocker down low, the Mavs need all the perimeter defense they can get.
Kirilenko is an exceptional perimeter defender, who can also body up on the block, much like Marion. He's also apt to contesting shots, unlike most outside-oriented defenders.
His 29.2 percent clip from downtown last season doesn't scream desirable, but he still gives Dallas someone else who can create their own offense.
Presumably, you don't want the Mavs strapping themselves financially for a 30-something forward. The same goes for Dalembert. You don't want Dallas giving lengthy, cash-heavy deals to aging veterans.
Should Kirilenko price himself out of the Mavs' future plans, there's no use making a run at him. The market for his services, however, has been tepid at best. Dallas may be able to pick him on a two-year deal, team option for the second, at a fraction of the $10 million he was originally slated to make next season.
A palatable salary would then make for a nice union between AK47 and the Mavs. It may even make for a potential playoff berth too.
Years Experience: 14
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 7.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.7 steals and 1.3 blocks on 47.3 percent shooting
I wish I had a better option for the Mavs at power forward, I really do. But I don't.
Brand's best days are about a half-decade behind him, and he doesn't navigate the floor especially well. Still, he's another physical body for Dallas to plug into its lineup.
Tim MacMahon of ESPN reports that the Mavs would love to bring him back, a less-than-surprising revelation, only because there truly is no one else.
To be fair, Brand's numbers weren't that bad in his only season in Dallas. He posted 12.2 points, 10.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per 36 minutes, impressive production for a player on the wrong side of 30 and then some.
Price, as always, will be an issue here. Ideally, Brand would be open to a one-year deal that paid him more money. If he's dead set on securing a two-year contract, the Mavs should try and negotiate one with a team option, to protect themselves against being stuck with him leading into next summer.
Brand represents a dying breed of undersized power forwards who scrap and claw their way to some blocks, rebounds and points. Just because his gritty play style is dated, doesn't mean Dallas doesn't need him.
Years Experience: 8
2012-13 Per-Game Stats: 13.1 points, 2.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.1 blocks on 43.3 percent shooting.
Just do it. Don't think, just do it.
Pairing Nate Robinson in the backcourt with Calderon and Harris gives the Mavericks quite the three-man rotation. I envision Harris as the starting shooting guard next to Calderon at point, and Robinson providing relief at both spots off the bench as the sixth man.
Though undersized, Robinson is instant offense. The Chicago Bulls wouldn't have made it past the Brooklyn Nets without him, and LeBron James took it upon himself to guard him in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Off the bench, Robinson put up 18.5 points and 6.2 assists on 43.3 percent shooting per 36 minutes during the regular season. To put that in perspective, Kevin Martin, who is making $28 million over the next four years with the Minnesota Timberwolves, notched 18.2 points and 1.8 assists on 45 percent shooting per 36 minutes.
I doubt Robinson would command a similar contract, and the demand for him remains unclear, but the Mavs could certainly use a reserve like him, who can single-handedly carry the team's offense if Dirk doesn't have it going.
This is one of those instances where you have to forget about size and think about putting points on the board. And Robinson is certainly capable of the latter.
That signing him beats the hell out of overpaying Monta Ellis or paying Nick Young at all is just the cherry atop Dallas' not-so-delectable sundae.