Men in the Middle

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on July 18, 2013 under Commentary, News | Be the First to Comment

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After having a meeting with Dallas last week, Andrew Bynum decided to join the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Mavs decided that Bynum’s situation was not worth pursuing any further. After much discussion, Dallas decided to make Samuel Dalembert their new starting center. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein first reported that Dallas was closing in a deal to make Dalembert the team’s new starting center.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that the deal is a two-year, $7.5 million deal with Dallas.

Dalembert’s contract for 14-15 is partially guaranteed.

That means he is the next center from the recent crop of Dallas centers: Erick Dampier, Brendan Haywood, Tyson Chandler and Chris Kaman.

Dalembert doesn’t move the meter, but he’s the best available starting center on the market. The 6-foot-11, 250-pound Dalembert started 23 games for the Milwaukee Bucks last season, when he averaged 6.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 16.3 minutes per game. He only played in 47 games for the Bucks. Whether it was falling behind Larry Sanders on the depth chart, being unhappy about his role or other issues, Dalembert never really fit in with what the Bucks were doing in 2012-2013.

Dallas marks the fifth team he will be playing for in the last five years. For the lack of buzz he creates, Dalembert is a center who does what he does: protect the paint, rebound the ball and block shots.

In terms of advanced statistics, he holds a career average defensive rating of 102. He’s held an average of 100.5 over his last two seasons. Never having a season average above 10.7 pints per game, Dallas will be hoping that Dalembert can bring a consistent effort on the defensive end of the floor. Let’s be honest, they’re hard-pressed to find something that turns out to be worse than what they had at the position last year.

Many people had to convince themselves that Bynum was going to be an answer for the Mavs. Despite all of the red flags, and there were plenty of them, people said that the gamble was necessary in order to take a chance at making this year somewhat relevant. Now, Dallas had to find a way to pick up the pieces at the starting center position, starting with Dalembert.

With the expected signings of Monte Ellis, Brandan Wright, Wayne Ellington and possibly even Devin Harris joining the signings of Jose Calderon, Shane Larkin and Gal Meklel, the roster is officially taking shape.

There’s no way to suggest that this offseason has lived up to expectations. They have fixed a major flaw in their roster from last season in terms of a potential second scorer and raising their collective basketball IQ. That’s great, but they still have a ton of question marks on the other end of the floor.

It is a collection of parts that, on their own, seem to make a fair amount of sense. Together, they still remain a massive question mark. Being in Vegas for the Summer League, a lot of personnel have spoken to me and commented on the acquisitions Dallas has made. Many are intrigued how the pieces work together and also are interested to see how Rick Carlisle puts the pieces together.

Carlisle has been known as a creative and offensively-gifted coach, especially with his ability to draw up plays and alter his system based on the personnel he has. If he can walk the tightrope and have everyone buy in on playing as a team, the Mavs have a decent chance of returning to the playoffs after missing it for the first time in 12 years.

The center position was clearly the biggest hole the Mavs had. With the news that Dalembert and Brandan Wright appear to be manning the position, the roster appears to be approaching its final version. Whether it’s a good final version remains to be seen.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He also attended Ball So Hard University. Bryan channels his inner-Clark Kent on a day-to-day basis. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.