Maxi Kleber Undergoes Surgery for Torn Hamstring — What’s Next for the Mavs?

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Mavericks’ forward Maxi Kleber had surgery on his torn hamstring, the Mavericks announced today. While the team did not provide a timetable for his return, Kleber will likely miss the rest of the season.

The German stretch-four started the season poorly, but after returning from another injury around three weeks ago, he was averaging 8.9 points on 47% shooting from three and 1.4 blocks per game. 

This is a big loss for a struggling Mavericks team. Kleber was an integral part of the Mavericks’ big-man rotation, as he provided the offensive versatility that Dwight Powell lacks and the defensive prowess that limits Christian Wood. He was the jack-of-all-trades of this big-man group, and his loss is already being reflected in the Mavericks’ last few games without him.

The Mavericks have a 113.8 offensive rating, good for 10th in the league. Since Kleber’s most recent absence began, the Mavericks have a 110.7 offensive rating, which is 21st in that timespan and would be 23rd if extrapolated out to the full season thus far. In that stretch, the Mavericks have gone 1-3, with two of those losses coming to the Cavaliers – a team with a vaunted frontcourt. While this decline certainly isn’t entirely based on Kleber’s absence, it certainly plays a role.

As I wrote back when Kleber signed his three-year extension, an injury was one of the most feared yet most predictable negative outcomes that could have followed his re-signing. The Mavericks already have a handful of contracts tied to big men – JaVale McGee, Dwight Powell, and Dāvis Bertāns – who are overpaid to play roles they can’t fulfill. Kleber is a month away from being 31, and it is likely that the length of his athletic prime is now reduced due to this injury. If this prediction materializes, the Mavericks will have another bad contract on their books until the 2026-2027 season.

More immediately, the Mavericks have few available options on the roster that act as good replacements. Wood and Powell can absorb some of Kleber’s minutes. Dāvis Bertāns likely sees an increase in playing time as well, especially considering that JaVale McGee has solidified his role as a benchwarmer. Bertāns did score 18 points in just 15 minutes in the most recent loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves, but he will have to continue to shoot well to negate his defensive limitations.

As the Mavericks have limited assets, or reason, to make a trade for a big man, the team may decide to explore some free agents. As noted by CBAMavs on Twitter, the Mavericks can use a disabled-player exception to either sign or trade for a player using up to $4.5 million – half of Kleber’s 2022-2023 salary. Older players like LaMarcus Aldridge, Paul Millsap, and Carmelo Anthony are available, and they might bring a much-needed veteran presence to the locker room. Additionally, a younger player like Eric Paschall is available if the team is looking for a long-term addition.

This was the worst-case scenario regarding Kleber for the Mavericks. We all wish Kleber a speedy recovery.  



Categories: 2022-23 Season, Mavs Fans For Life

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