Dallas Mavericks general manager Donnie Nelson recently confirmed that the Mavericks plan on retaining starting center Samuel Dalembert for the 2014-15 season. This should come as no surprise as Dalembert will only be on the books for $3.9 million next season.
The Mavericks gave themselves options when they signed Dalembert as his contract included a $2.5 million dollar buyout that could be exercised if they decided against bringing back the veteran center.
Dalembert was incredibly inconsistent during the first half of the season but he has gradually improved his play. Since the All-Star break, Dalembert has improved both his scoring and rebounding averages.
While the differences are not drastic, (6.3 points and 6.3 rebounds prior to the All-Star break, 7.0 points and 7.6 rebounds after), his plus/minus ratio tells more of the complete story. Dalembert was a -.4 prior to the All-Star break, and he is a +6.5 since the February break.
Dalembert’s season was at a crossroads in early January when he was late for practice for the second time after sleeping in. Dalembert was given a one-game penalty for his actions and there was concern about his focus and commitment. Instead of criticizing their teammate or questioning his work ethic, head coach Rick Carlisle and the veterans in Dallas chose to offer their support to their veteran center.
Sometimes patience is the best approach and this was the case with Dalembert. The Mavericks had no other viable option at the center position and the Mavericks coaching staff and players realized how much better their team is with Dalembert playing well.
Dalembert’s contract next season is small enough to allow the Mavericks to pursue a free agent of their choosing without concern over Dalembert’s deal.
If Dallas chooses to pursue a starting center in free agency, Dalembert can easily slide into the backup role. Dalembert’s presence on the roster will provide the Mavericks with additional flexibility as the free agency period begins.
As the Mavericks know, free agency offers no guarantees and keeping Dalembert at an affordable price ensures Dallas will have at least one capable center on their roster in the 2014-15 season.