Tuesday Mavs Donuts: Collecting Centers
DONUT 1: The Center Collectors ...
When did we start noticing that the Cuban/Nelsons Dallas Mavericks valued the idea of collecting centers?
The 2004-2005 included newcomer Dampier, veteran Bradley, the developing Calvin Booth and rookies D.J. Mbenga and Pavel Podkolzin.)
That was kind of a sign, no?
DONUT 2: The tradition continues ...
"Dampier and Diop'' causes some chuckles, I know. But having two quality (OK, "decent'') big men is a centerpiece of winning 50 games a year. Some teams have one guy better than this. Few teams have two bodies of this caliber.
The same thing was certainly true of the Chandler/Haywood pairing. An even higher quality tandem, but as with the Damp/Diop duo, a similar result: the NBA Finals.
DONUT 3: But sometimes ...
Sometimes, big men don't love basketball. They play because they're tall. Because when they are 10, they are urged to give up soccer or football or piano lessons and go stand near a basket.
But they are centers and they are valued and they are, in the last decade, coveted by Dallas.
DONUT 4: Remember when Raef was going to draw Shaq away from the basket? ...
In 2002, Dallas re-signed Raef LaFrentz to a seven-year, $69.9 million deal. In the following season his scoring average dipped by a bit and his rebounds went down by almost half, and a year later he was traded away.
Nellie loved the idea of a perimeter-shooting center, and the Mavs of this era were so focused on overcoming Shaq's Lakers in the playoffs that they made Raef a priority.
But Raef didn't work out. And heck, it took until 2011 before the Mavs even opposed the Lakers in the postseason.
DONUT 5: ...
The year before Erick Dampier signed his seven-year, $73-million contract in August 2004, he was a 12/12 guy at Golden State. The year after he did the deal he slipped to 9.2 points/8.5 rebounds. The year after that he settled into Damp reality at 5.7 points/7.8 rebounds.
He helped Dallas win. And because of the way Dallas cleverly designed his contract, he became The DUST Chip, magically transformed into the acquisition of Tyson Chandler, at a cost of nothing.
But during his playing days, the taciturn Damp served to frustrate many because of the things he didn't do. And that was a lot of money for a a guy who was lauded by coaches for being able to set effective picks.
DONUT 6: The Erector Set in Mid-Collapse ...
In 2005, Shawn Bradley retired with three years and $14.5 million left on his contract after a season in which he scored 2.7 points per game.
No, the Mavs never quite learned their lesson on lovable Shawn, a beautiful person who had some freakishly adequate skills to go along with his 7-6 frame ... he was given chance after chance and his retirement (along with a buyout of that contractual remainder) was a relief, really, to the Mavs front office and locker room.
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DONUT 9: Stop, Diop and Roll ...
The year before DeSagana Diop signed his five-year, $38-million contract in 2008, he was at 3.5 points/5.2 rebounds. The year after he came back with a new deal he was 1.6 points/3.5 rebounds.
The Mavs kept giving Diop more go-arounds. The league does the same. But his numbers keep shrinking. ...
DONUT 10: Big Wood ...
The year before Haywood signed his six-year contract worth as much as $55 million in 2010, he earned Dallas' trust with 8.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per following his February trade to the Mavs. The year after he got his money – and after being beaten out by Chandler at training camp – he spent part of the season as the Mavs' third-string center before popping back to life in the playoffs and doing fine work in helping to beat Portland, LA and OKC.
This past year, he served as the starting center in the wake of TY's departure in free agency. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle praised Haywood's defensive work this season, but nevertheless, Haywood's salary and situation makes him a candidate for amnesty.
DONUT 11: Big swings, some laughs, decent results? ...
In short, the Mavs value center play and depth at the position. They take big swings to find answers. The DUST Chip for Chandler certainly qualifies here, and maybe represents the approach at its best (and riskiest): TY was viewed by some as an injury-plagued talent when in the summer of 2010 the Mavs took on his remaining one year and $12.75 million.
The answers have sometimes come, the results have often been there, but they've come with some headshaking and always they've come at a premium price.
DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
Which brings us to Roy Hibbert.
The Mavs have decisions to make on existing roster members (from Brandan Wright to FA Ian Mahinmi) and they have their 3D Blueprint wishes for Dwight and Deron Williams to join Dirk Nowitzki and they have everything in between.
Including Roy Hibbert.
DallasBasketball.com has the exclusive story on the Mavs' consideration of presenting an offer sheet to Hibbert and it's one of many steps in our coverage of the Mavs' ramp-up to July 1. If you want the inside stuff, from inside the locker room to on the court to up in the Mavs front office, please take our seven-day free trial of Mavs Premium and then at pennies a day ride alone for the best Mavs coverage on the planet!
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