Sports & Leisure

Who Will Be the Mavs’ Center Next Season?

Besides for Maxi Kleber, I mean.

NBA free agency gets going officially Saturday at 11:01 p.m. cst, but it technically started this morning when LeBron James told the Cleveland Cavaliers he wasn’t opting into the next year of his contract. That more or less limits his options to re-signing with the Cavs, or signing with the Lakers or Sixers. Maybe Houston could figure it out, but they don’t have the money now. Anyway, this doesn’t have a ton to do with the Mavs. BUT, this time around, the Mavs are actually going to be involved, and not just at the margins. OK, they’re not the top storyline, or even the second (where is Kawhi Leonard going?), or third (where is Paul George going?). Maybe there is a fourth one ahead of them, too.

Regardless, now that the Mavs have Luka Doncic to pair with Dennis Smith Jr., people outside of North Texas are interested in your boys again. That’s always good. The specific matter at hand is who the team will get to man the middle now that it has its backcourt of the future in place.

Most of the chatter has focused on the Mavs (re?) acquiring Clippers center DeAndre Jordan via trade, which it appears would involve swingman Wes Matthews. On the court, it’s a good fit. Jordan is 30, but he’s still got bounce, and his offensive skill set (catching lob passes and then dunking them) fits in with Rick Carlisle’s playbook, and he fills a need on defense and on the boards. Off the court, there is the lingering resentment from the fan base after he agreed to sign with the team a couple of seasons ago, only to back out a few days later. So it’s not perfect. Not as bad for me as the week that Doug Christie played for the Mavs, but not immediately great. It would take a second.

I expect this trade is what will ultimately happen. But I have a different preference.

I would rather the team give Rockets center Clint Capela a max offer sheet. Capela is a younger (26) and arguably better version of Jordan and is more in keeping with the timeline of the Mavs’ future. Make a move on Capela at 11:01. Sell the Swiss-born center on the team’s brightening future and the opportunity to learn from the best European to ever play in the NBA. Frontload the contract so 1) it makes the Rockets’ decision a bit tougher and 2) if they ultimately match it, which they probably will, it kicks them in the wallet. Best-case scenario you get a young center who is only getting better who will be catching alley-oops from Luka all day. Worst case, an in-division rival has another obstacle to getting better.

I do not see why, if you’re Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson, you don’t do this. The Jordan trade will still be there when the Rockets decide on Capela; the Mavs don’t have a ton of competition for his services. And they won’t drag it out forever, because they have other moves to make.

But what do I know? I’m just a genius who has never been wrong.

ALSO, unrelated, I agree with the Morning News‘ Mark Lamster that now is a good time for an overall rebrand.