As the long and 0-7 Mavs preseason comes to an end, their training-camp roster must get down to 15 by Monday. This weekend, the Mavericks made the bulk of the needed moves in one sweep, waiving four players on Saturday, including veteran center Sam Dalembert, who came back to Dallas on a fully-guaranteed vet-minimum deal.
Dalembert's departure was bunched with that of Brandon Ashley, Tu Holloway and Jamil Wilson -- and there is a D-League flavor to those transactions.
But Dalembert? To some, the intentions there aren't as clear as they should be.
Sammy D, 6-11, 250, played in four games (with one start) this preseason and averaged 4.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in 12.8 minutes. He missed the final three games of the exhibition season with a left leg injury and was also hampered by his own lack of conditioning. When he didn't make the trip to Lincoln for an otherwise eventful 103-102 loss to the Bulls (featuring the Mavs debuts of Wes Matthews and Deron Williams), the plan became fairly clear.
"No. 1, it’s a numbers game,'' coach Rick Carlisle said of cutting Sam. "No.2, he just hasn’t been healthy enough to this point."
What's ProBasketballTalk.com's take on all this? "Dalembert’s release brings us one step closer to a world where JaVale McGee is the Mavs’ starting center,'' our friends over there write snarkily.
And what do our FOX Sports colleagues think of it? "If small-ball is all the rage in the modern NBA, the Mavs might be set. Because after the team's latest roster move, there's not a whole lot of depth at the center position in Dallas. ... it doesn't look good right now.''
Fact: Some temporary snark might be appropriate. But the confusion is unnecessary. Dallas was unlikely to keep three centers. Zaza Pachulia is the starter, not McGee, who is weeks from being healthy. But if McGee -- on an insanely cheap "prove-it'' contract -- is ever a first-teamer? This would be a good thing, because it will mean he's beaten out the capable Zaza. (And it will also mean his video goofiness will need to be curbed by Carlisle.) What Dalembert didn't do is outplay and outwork Salah Majri, the 29-year-old Tunisian who is 7-2 and therefore has nothing to do with "SmallBall.''
This is really a story less about Dalembert and more about Mejri (with the next transition story to focus on the final cut, possibly involving the injured Maurice Ndour, who has three years of guaranteed money but at this point a Texas Legends-level game). It doesn't make the Mavs more gimmicky or more non-competitive. The idea is simply that Mejri is at this point a better contributor than Dalembert. ... and that McGee is going to be the same. Nothing more complex than that.