The Dallas Mavericks plan to be one of a few teams pursuing Pau Gasol when free agency begins on July 1, according to Tim McMahon and Marc Stein of ESPN. With Dirk Nowitzki‘s career winding down and the Mavs in desperate need of an upgrade at the center position, Dallas will look to add another aging veteran to bulk up its roster in the hopes of making a deeper Western Conference run this season. Sorry Samuel Dalembert and DeJuan Blair, you just weren’t cutting it.
The Mavs’ pursuit of Gasol highly depends on the price tag that will come with the seven-footer, according to sources of ESPNDallas.com. Gasol will likely take a pay cut this offseason given that his skills, stats and body are all in decline, but if the Mavs are able to sign him to a manageable deal they’ll be happy to move him to the center spot alongside Dirk.
There are a ton of caveats that come with this news, however. Although the Mavs will have around $30 million to work with this summer, a fair portion of it will go to re-signing Dirk, even if he takes the significant pay cut he’s already publicly committed to taking. The Mavs are also hoping to sign Carmelo Anthony, who officially opted out of his contract with the New York Knicks and will test free agency.
Furthermore, the Mavs are also interested in Marcin Gortat of the Washington Wizards and Tyson Chandler if the Knicks make him available for a trade. Gortat is in the prime of his career and played a vital role in Washington’s enjoyable playoff run this season, but the Mavs will likely be outbid this summer by the Wizards for his services. As for Chandler, there’s no guarantee trading for him would be easier than signing Gasol.
Dirk/Pau frontcourt would be old and probably not enough to contend, but plenty of fun. RT @ESPNSteinLine Mavs…plan to pursue Pau Gasol
— Andrew Bailey (@AndrewDBailey) June 23, 2014
Last season, the 33-year-old Spaniard averaged 17.4 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game in his seventh season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Though his numbers rebounded significantly from his injury-riddled 2012-13 campaign, his defense remained a noticeable flaw in his game, one that might be enhanced and exploited were he to join an aging Dirk Nowitzki, who already struggles defending the power forward position.
While the frontcourt duo of Dirk and Gasol would be nearly impossible to stop on the offensive end, they wouldn’t be able to stop anyone defensively. The Mavs already had the lowest-ranked defense among the 16 playoff teams last year and bringing on Gasol’s defensive rating (108 points per 100 possessions) to join Dirk’s (108) could be a recipe for disaster.
If nothing happens on the Gasol front, the Mavs would likely stick with Dalembert as the starter or look to use the athletic Brandan Wright a bit more. They could also look to re-sign Blair since his energetic playoff performance against the San Antonio Spurs nearly helped the Mavs pull off the first-round upset of the eventual NBA champions.