Hours after voiding the contract of Rashard Lewis, the Dallas Mavericks have found his replacement. The Mavericks and forward Al-Farouq Aminu came to terms on a contract Wednesday evening as Dallas works to finish shoring up its bench.
David Aldridge of NBA.com reported the deal will be for two years and $2.1 million with an opt-out clause after the first year:
Aminu's deal with Dallas is for two years, $2.1M, player option for second season, per source.— David Aldridge (@daldridgetnt) July 24, 2014
Chris Haynes of CSN Northwest was the first to report the two sides agreeing on a deal:
Free agent forward Al-Farouq Aminu has reached an agreement with Dallas, league sources inform @CSNNW.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 24, 2014
Aminu, 23, spent the last three seasons with the New Orleans Pelicans. He averaged 7.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game on 47.4 percent shooting while mostly serving as New Orleans' starting small forward. The former Wake Forest star was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers eighth overall in 2010 and was one of principal pieces sent to the Pelicans in the Chris Paul trade.
The Pelicans were forced to renounce his Bird rights to complete their trade for Omer Asik.
While the Mavericks reached out to Aminu early in the free-agency period, it appeared they were moving in a different direction. After landing Chandler Parsons on a huge three-year, $46 million offer sheet, Dallas inked Lewis to a one-year deal at the veteran's minimum to serve as a stretch 4 and occasional small forward.
When a physical uncovered Lewis has a knee injury that requires surgery, the Mavericks moved to void his contract on Wednesday, per Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas.com.
"It came to our attention during Rashard Lewis' physical that he is in need of a medical procedure on his right knee," Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said, per McMahon. "We wish him all the best for a speedy recovery and continued success in his remarkable career."
Wednesday also saw the Mavericks use their $2.7 million room exception on point guard Jameer Nelson, per Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports. They will only have veteran minimum contracts to use through the rest of the summer but have solidified nearly every need area on the roster.
Aminu fits the bill as a potential lockdown perimeter defender who is rangy enough to play power forward in smaller lineups. He has excellent lateral quickness and moves the floor well when defending big men on the pick-and-roll. The Pelicans, who were a below-average defensive team as a whole, were two points per 100 possessions better when Aminu and Anthony Davis shared the floor, per NBA.com.
Aminu was often tasked with the most difficult perimeter task on a nightly basis. He's not a perfect defender by any stretch but is a marked improvement over Lewis in a similar role. New Orleans was also a much more effective rebounding team—particularly on the offensive boards—with Aminu on the floor.
This is all good news for the Mavericks, a team done in by their defensive failings a year ago. The Mavs finished 22nd in defensive efficiency and saw numerous opportunities to take control of their first-round series with the Spurs slip away due to lapses. Nelson has gone about rectifying those foibles by reacquiring Tyson Chandler and bringing back the underrated Devin Harris.
Adding Aminu gives head coach Rick Carlisle another dimension at either forward position. Parsons, for all of his solid offensive contributions, has been a glaring minus defensively for his career. The Mavs may also slide Aminu next to Dirk Nowitzki in the frontcourt in small-ball lineups that could be killer offensively.
Terrific value on Aminu. Dallas should be WAY better than they were last year, so they'll probably somehow be worse.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) July 24, 2014
Aminu's hitchy, and at times broken, jumper will not be as much of an issue on a Dallas roster laden with sweet-shooting vets. He's also made some small strides of his own in that area, developing a mid-range game that is closer to average than it's ever been. That might seem like a backhanded compliment, but Aminu is a steal at this price if he's simply able to avoid being a burden offensively.
Throwing in a touch of mid-range shooting to go along with an effective game near the basket would do the trick. Dallas was disappointed when Lewis failed his physical. In the end, though, Mark Cuban might have gotten the better player.
Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.