Mavericks Offseason Targets: Center

The Dallas Mavericks completed what can only be described as a rousing success of a season. No one expected this team to advance past the Suns, much less make the Western Conference Finals. Now comes the hard part: improving the roster to ensure this team can remain successful and give them a chance to advance even further in the coming years.

GM Nico Harrison stated in end-of-season exit interviews that retaining Jalen Brunson is the main priority for this team. Harrison also pointed out that the team needs “somebody who can help on the rebounds, rim protector”, an obvious flaw within the constructed roster. Here’s a look at five options routinely named as potential targets, and whether the Mavericks should sign/acquire them.

Rudy Gobert

The most popular name thrown around as a fit for the Mavericks is Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz. The three-time defensive player of the year would be a great fit as a lob threat and paint defender for Dallas. Gobert averaged 15.6 PPG, career-high 14.7 RPG and 2.1 BPG this season while shooting a career-high 71.3%. However, Dallas themselves showed how a center of Gobert’s skillset can be exposed in the postseason. The two teams in the Finals, Golden State and Boston, both play smaller centers that can effectively switch and cover shooters outside of the paint. While Kevon Looney had success against Dallas, that seemed to accentuate Dallas’ need for a more athletic center as opposed to a true paint defender like Gobert.

Gobert’s contract is also a tough pill to swallow. Gobert signed a 5-year, $205 million extension with Utah just two years ago and is still due another $170 million over the life of the contract (an AAV of roughly $42.4 million). The Mavericks would also need to figure out pieces to add in a trade with Utah since Gobert is still under contract, something that Marc Stein reported as “unlikely”.

The Verdict: Pass on Gobert

Myles Turner

Another name routinely thrown around as a potential acquisition for the Mavericks is Myles Turner. The Dallas native has one year left on his contract with the Indiana Pacers and has been very active in the Dallas community, naturally raising suspicion that he would like to play for his hometown team. Turner averaged 12.9 PPG, 7.1 RPG and league-leading 2.8 BPG while shooting a career-high 34.9% from the three. Turner led the league in blocks last season as well.

Two issues arise with the potential acquisition of Turner, however. With the Pacers trading away Domantas Sabonis earlier this year, there is growing optimism that they want to continue building their roster around him and Tyrese Haliburton. Rick Carlisle’s infatuation with Jalen Brunson may allow for a sign and trade possibility, but is that something Dallas would even consider? In addition, Myles Turner has a history of injury concerns the last few years. In fact, he has played the exact same number of games a Kristaps Porzingis since 2019. Dallas moved off Porzingis due to his availability. Would they really want to gamble on another player that has injury concerns?

The Verdict: Pass on Turner

Mitchell Robinson

Mitchell Robinson is coming off a season with the Knicks where he averaged 8.5 PPG, 8.6 RPG and 1.8 BPG while shooting an astounding 76% from the field. Even better, Robinson averaged 1.41 points per possession as a roll man, which ranked inside the top 10% in the league. Robinson would be the perfect lob threat and rim protector for the Mavericks, but the issue lies in the contract that it would take to get him.

Dallas can only offer the taxpayer mid-level exception, which for 2022-2023 calculates to roughly $6.3 million annually. Robinson could potentially receive a 4-year, $48 million extension with the Knicks, and the $12 million salary is roughly what analysts are expecting Robinson could command on the open market. Robinson would have to take a significant pay cut to join Dallas. Another option would be to engage the Knicks in a sign and trade, potentially surrounding the expiring contract of Dwight Powell.

The Verdict: Pursue a sign-and-trade with the Knicks for Robinson

Mo Bamba

With the Orlando Magic widely expected to draft Chet Holmgren first overall in the NBA draft, Mo Bamba seems to be the odd man out in Florida. Bamba is coming off his best season as a pro, averaging 10.6 PPG, 8.1 RPG and 1.7 BPG. Bamba also shot the ball from deep well as a center, hitting a career high 38% of his attempts from behind the arc.

Bamba isn’t as prolific in the pick and roll, however, which is where the Mavericks excel. Bamba ranked in the 24th percentile as a roll man (conversely, Dwight Powell ranked in the 92nd percentile). Now, there is faith in Jason Kidd’s coaching ability that Bamba can learn under him, Additionally, Bamba has never played with a PG like Luka Dončić. Dallas was heavily linked to Bamba in the 2018 NBA Draft before they traded up for Luka, so there may still be some interest there.

Depending on the contract demanded by Bamba and his agent, Dallas should look to bring him in and play off Dončić for the future. Bamba is entering restricted free agency, so the Mavericks may have to include an asset in a sign and trade if Orlando doesn’t rescind the rights on his contract.

The Verdict: Pursue a sign-and-trade with the Magic for Mo Bamba (if ORL rescinds his rights, then sign as a FA)

Christian Wood

An intriguing name that has popped up in rumors is Christian Wood of the Houston Rockets. Wood was arguably one of the Rockets’ best players in 2021-2022 during the midst of their rebuild, averaging 17.9 PPG, 8.5 RPG and 1.0 BPG on 57% shooting from the field and 39% from behind the arc. The issue surrounding Christian Wood is, for all his athletic talents, he has displayed some attitude issues in the past. Wood refused to sub into a game in the second half of a game earlier this year and was also benched due to violating team rules. Perhaps a change of scenery is needed, perhaps this is just who Wood is.

The Rockets are in a position where they have their center of the future in Alperen Şengün whom they drafted in the first round in 2021 and Wood is on the final year of his deal at a reasonable $14.3 million. Would Houston take a package surrounding Dwight Powell and Josh Green and a 2nd round pick? Or if the Mavericks wanted to offload Davis Bertans’ contract, would they be willing to part with a future protected first rounder to acquire Wood? The fit makes sense, the question is the package that would be required to acquire him.

The Verdict: Pursue a trade with the Rockets for Christian Wood

The Dallas Mavericks enter a pivotal offseason. The Atlanta Hawks showed this year that a trip back to the Conference Finals is not guaranteed, Mavs must capitalize on the heights they have reached and push further by maximizing the talent on the roster to enhance the stability of contending for an NBA championship. This position of need is obvious and now it is time for Nico Harrison and the front office to get to work.

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