There is no question who will start at power forward for the Dallas Mavericks this season. The finals MVP, the blonde bomber and the big German are all names that he is known by around Dallas.
But apart from Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks have question marks concerning their big men. Right now, Nowitzki, Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi are the only bigs on the roster, unless you count Shawn Marion, who splits minutes at the four every so often.
A likely solution would be to re-sign Brian Cardinal, who won't ask for much more than the minimum salary and will show up ready to play every game like it's his last. However, Cardinal is limited in his skill set and athletic ability, and although fans in Dallas became fond of "The Custodian" last season, making an upgrade wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
Enter Carl Landry, the fifth-year man from Purdue, who has spent time with the Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Hornets. He has career averages of 12.1 points and 5.1 rebounds, and while that doesn't seem like the kind of production the Mavericks would be excited about, he may be exactly what they need should their major free agents depart.
There is no denying that Tyson Chandler helped change the defensive mentality of the entire Dallas franchise. With rumors swirling of his departure, the Mavericks are going to have to hope the man they bring in to replace him will be able to buy into the team concept that Chandler portrayed so well on the way to the NBA title.
His rugged inside presence and timely scoring has helped all three franchises he has been a part of, and that presence could help soften the blow that Chandler will create by likely signing with another team in a few days.
When New Orleans traded for Landry, they knew they were getting a player who adds a front-court presence with a scoring mentality. Dallas could be getting much of the same, and with other possibilities on the horizon (Dwight Howard), adding Landry could be a perfect complimentary piece in either a trade scenario or to surround new talent with.
Even Dirk is familiar with Landry, when the two had a run-in where Landry deposited a few of his teeth in Nowitzki's elbow.
But the Mavericks aren't going to be able to sit back and wait for Chandler and Caron Butler to make decisions before they chase Landry to join their title drive. Landry is an attractive piece for teams looking to bolster their front court, and Indiana, Boston and Portland have all expressed interest in adding him to their fold.
The question becomes: What is it going to take for the Mavericks to bring him to big D?
A mid-level contract should do the trick, and I would think Landry would jump at the chance to play with future Hall of Famers, Nowitzki and Jason Kidd. If the Mavericks were to offer him a three- to four-year, $6-7 million contract, I would think it would be hard for him to turn down.
He would instantly be the second-best inside scorer on the roster, and along with Jason Terry would be able to bolster the second unit when they need offense in places other than the guard position.
It's becoming clear each day that the core of the 2011 championship team is highly unlikely to remain the same. So for Mavericks brass, making shrewd moves to re-surround Nowitzki and Kidd with talent during their twilight seasons will be the order of business.
This move would qualify, and would put the team in position to re-sign Cardinal for insurance and maybe DeShawn Stevenson to create the kind of defensive intensity that was so important during the stretch run in 2011.
If not, it's going to be slim pickings for the team after they watch Chandler and Butler sign with new teams, and the scramble that will ensue after that will be a lot scarier than the idea of Landry backing up Nowitzki for the foreseeable future.
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