DeJuan Blair may have found a team that he can call home permanently. And if the Dallas Mavericks are in agreement, they should find a way to get the energy boost Blair brings for a few more years in Dallas.
It wasn’t a fair situation for Blair. An undersized power forward/center at 6’7″ playing on the worst defense in the NBA did not make him a viable asset on the Mavs. Rick Carlisle would go week-long stretches without even playing Blair, not knowing what his role on the team was.
After his performance during the first round against the San Antonio Spurs, his role may have been figured out: an energy guy who, when his motor is on, can out-rebound any big man you put against him.
All the credit in the world goes to Devin Harris for being the unfathomable X-Factor in that series, taking the Spurs to the brink of elimination. But if not for Blair and his effort in Games 4 and 6, that series may have not gone seven games. And if he’s not suspended for Game 5 because of that “intentional kick to the head,” then who knows what would’ve happened in that series?
Blair, at the turn of a dime, went from being underutilized and not even touching the floor to becoming a key contributor in the almost-Cinderella-like run for Dallas.
Now he enters free agency and the Mavs aren’t shy about saying they need frontcourt depth. Blair won’t come at an expensive price, and now that Carlisle knows how to use him, he could see a more prominent role in Dallas for the next few years.
The level of disappointment watching Blair in the regular season does not begin to describe how much of a waste of space he was on the roster. But when you’re up 2-1 against the reigning Western Conference champs and the team that has dominated the NBA in the last 10 years, you pull out all the stops.
Make no mistake: Blair’s performance could’ve been a fluke. Who’s to say that he only would’ve showed up during the series against the Spurs, a team where he started his career with and felt like he could become a fixture of the future core in San Antonio?
Perhaps that’s the case, but it boils down to Blair wanting a chance to be on a team that’ll give him an opportunity for more than just one season. The Mavs are in the perfect situation to do just that, especially if they don’t acquire Larry Sanders or Tyson Chandler via trade.
Blair isn’t going to start for the Mavs; that experiment already went haywire early in the season. But as an energy guy off the bench that can give you a double-double in 10 minutes, Dallas will take that any day of the week.
Just like they did with Brandan Wright, the Mavs should assure Blair that they’re committed to him for the next few years. It was a waiting process with Wright before he signed his new deal with Dallas this past offseason, so it could be the same situation.
But if the Mavs get anything like the Blair they got for a few games in that magical first-round series, then that’s a guy Carlisle needs on the roster.
And he gets to play the Spurs at least four times a year. It’s a win-win.
You can find Danny Webster on Twitter @DannyWebster21.