One unrestricted free agent that the Dallas Mavericks would not mind re-signing is veteran forward Brian Cardinal. Cardinal is not a scorer, but known for all-out hustling, grabbing rebounds, picking up fouls and being a completely true professional. Cardinal has become so notorious for his style of play that he is known as “the Custodian”—a phrase that is used over his name.
After spending four years playing college basketball under Gene Keady at Purdue, where he set records, Cardinal was drafted in the second round by the Detroit Pistons in 2000. He did not find a place in the league initially (after spending some time playing overseas) until having a breakout year with the Golden State Warriors in 2003-04, averaging a career-high 9.6 points and 4.2 rebounds per game while appearing in 76 games.
As a free agent, Cardinal was rewarded handsomely and signed a multi-year contract with the Memphis Grizzlies before the start of the 2004-05 NBA season. Even though he signed the contract, he was expected continue his all-out hustle style of play, something the Grizzlies were willing to risk.
Cardinal saw his playing time go down during his four-year tenure in Memphis, and went from becoming a high-profile addition to a player with a “bad” contract that was sitting on the bench dealing with injuries rather than playing. He was eventually traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in an eight-player trade during the 2008 NBA Draft.
In Minnesota, Cardinal played sparingly but did what he could in limited minutes. He also took the opportunity to tutor the younger players like rookie Kevin Love. Cardinal was traded to the New York Knicks in exchange for Darko Milicic, and was released by the Knicks and re-signed with Minnesota to finish out the remainder of the 2009-10 NBA season.
Cardinal signed with the Dallas Mavericks before the 2010-11 NBA season and would assume the role of spotting minutes in the frontcourt and being a leader in the locker room. Entering his 11th NBA season, Cardinal was looking at teams where he could help out the most as the window on his NBA career was closing. The Dallas Mavericks were a veteran bunch looking to push past previous playoff failures.
After winning an NBA championship, Cardinal is once again an unrestricted free agent and said that he would like to come back to Dallas, but one never knows what will happen as a result of the current lockout.