DeJuan Blair to Mavericks: Dallas Signs Former Spurs Big Man
DeJuan Blair is staying in the state of Texas—he'll just be playing for a different franchise.
The former San Antonio Spurs big man agreed to a one-year contract with the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday. As noted by Brett Poirier of Sheridan Hoops, the deal will likely pay Blair $1.4 million:
DeJuan Blair and the Dallas Mavs have reach an agreement on a contract that will likely be worth $1.4 million for one year, per source.— Brett Poirier NBA (@BrettNBA) July 30, 2013
Though the terms of the deal are yet to be specified, Blair confirmed the reports by thanking San Antonio fans and expressing his readiness to be a Maverick on his Twitter feed:
SA you always in my heart!— DeJuan Blair (@DeJuan45) July 30, 2013
Dallas!!!!! Now lets have some fun!!!!— DeJuan Blair (@DeJuan45) July 30, 2013
ESPN's Marc Stein reported earlier Tuesday the two sides were nearing a deal.
Blair spent his first four NBA seasons in San Antonio, picking up career averages of 7.8 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.
Drafted in the second round in 2009, Blair quickly proved to be another gem for Gregg Popovich's squad. He became a full-time starter alongside Tim Duncan in his second season with the Spurs, starting 127 of 145 games from 2010-2012.
However, Blair's status as a defensive liability at 6'7" often pushed him out of Popovich's rotation come playoff time—a streak that crept into his frustrating 2012-13 campaign.
Blair lost his starting spot to the emerging Tiago Splitter and wound up finding himself on the fringes of the rotation. He set career lows in minutes (14), points (5.4) and rebounds (3.8) per game while missing 21 contests due to injury. Additionally, he appeared in only 12 of San Antonio's postseason games, averaging 6.3 minutes per night.
Unsurprisingly, Popovich's lack of faith in Blair was justified on the free-agency market. The former Pittsburgh standout struggled to find multi-year deals, with teams likely worried about his lack of natural defensive positioning and injury history. Though it has rarely cropped up through his career—Blair's 21 missed games last season were by far a career high—not having ACLs is a red flag when it comes to long-term sustainability.
Blair has found a way to make it work on the offensive end, though. He'll bring per-36-minute averages of 14.9 points and 11.1 rebounds to the Mavericks, a sign he could excel with an expanded role. He's also a career 52.8-percent shooter, often bullying his way into the middle of the defense with his low center of gravity and strength.
Blair joins an increasingly crowded frontcourt in Dallas. After losing out on the Dwight Howard chase, the Mavericks quickly sprung into action by acquiring veteran center Samuel Dalembert and re-signing incumbent big men Brandan Wright and Bernard James. Stein's report also notes they are still in the chase for oft-injured center Greg Oden, whose decision is expected next week.
It's unlikely the Blair signing has any bearing on Oden's status. The Mavericks are limited to veteran's minimum contracts, meaning the financials remain the same.
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