Well Mavs fans, the front office finally did something.
The Dallas Mavericks have signed forward Maxi Kleber to a contract extension. Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, the extension is a 3-year, $33 million deal, which will lock him up through the 2025-2026 season.
2021-2022 Season Recap
Last season was a tale of two halves for the Mavericks’ lone German.
Before the All-Star Break, he averaged eight points per game (ppg) and shot 37% from three on 4.5 attempts. He started in half of those games, providing a stabilizing defensive and floor-stretching presence.
After the All-Star Break, however, Kleber lost his mojo like Austin Powers in “Goldmember”. His scoring plummeted to 4.5 ppg, and his 29.8%/18.8%/52.9% shooting splits (a double take is appropriate here) made him nearly unplayable. He lost his starting spot to Reggie Bullock as Jason Kidd went small, and his confidence plummeted as he hesitated on wide-open looks too often and bricked them when he took them.
In the playoffs, Kleber magically regained his shooting stroke. He will be forever remembered in Mavericks’ lore for going supernova against the Utah Jazz in the second and third games of the series, combining for 42 points on 12/16 shooting from three over that stretch. Throughout the playoffs, he averaged 8.7 ppg and shot 43.6% from three, and he was the key to the five-out offense that helped Dallas defeat the Jazz and Phoenix Suns.
Evaluating the Deal
Kleber, at 30, is in the middle of his prime. Extending a player to his age-34 season, especially when signs of regression and injury flare-ups have occurred, carries inherent risk. The question surrounding Maxi Kleber was whether his play after the All-Star Break was an aberration or not.
With this extension, the Mavericks have resoundingly answered with the former.
Every year prior to last season, he had improved his shooting percentages as he acclimated to the NBA, peaking in the 2020-2021 season when he shot 41% from three. Kleber’s poor shooting last season mirrored the league-wide dip in shooting percentages. As the league rebounds from that, it is reasonable to assume that Kleber will as well.
His defensive skill followed a similar upward trajectory, as he has become a great defender due to his ability to guard every position. While he won’t earn any All-Defensive team selections, having someone of his caliber alongside wings like Dorian Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock gives the Mavericks multiple switchable defenders to deploy. Playoff teams can never have enough players of Kleber’s skillset.
If Kleber plays as he has throughout much of his career, this extension could be comparable to that of Dorian Finney-Smith’s – signing a valuable role player on a below-market deal that could be flipped for a bigger star.
If Kleber regresses significantly, whether that be by shooting worse, losing his defensive athleticism, or succumbing to injuries, this contract will be comparable to that of Dwight Powell’s – overpaying a player for a role he can no longer fill on a deal they couldn’t give away if they tried.
When the Mavericks’ have called, Maxi has answered. Let’s hope he continues to pick up the phone.
Categories: 2022 NBA Offseason, Mavs Fans For Life
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