From bust to boon?
Not exactly, but the Mavericks rebounded from a disastrous opening week of free agency with a series of moves this week that could add as many as three new starters around Dirk Nowitzki and keep the team in the playoff hunt.
Former All-Star center Chris Kaman, point guard Darren Collison and off guard Dahntay Jones are headed to Dallas. Power forward Elton Brand, a two-time All-Star, may not be far behind. Forward Luis Scola, expected to have the amnesty provision applied to him by the Rockets, could be another option.
Collison and Jones were involved in a sign-and-trade deal Thursday night with Indiana for backup center Ian Mahinmi. Kaman has confirmed his decision to sign with the Mavs, and the deal is expected to become official today.
"We like all three guys," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "Collison is well thought of as a player and a person, and Kaman has been one of the better low-post players in the league for the last eight years. We feel Dahntay Jones is a premier defender that brings toughness and he shot the 3 well the last two years."
It's a haul that doesn't make up for failing to land Deron Williams, the prize of this free agency class who the Mavs believed could vault the franchise back into title contention.
The new group, headlined by Kaman and Collison, keeps the Mavs competitive in the Western Conference while preserving cap space for another run at a top free agent next summer.
A big plus in the acquisitions of Kaman, Collison and Jones is their respective contract situations.
Each is signed through only this upcoming season, with Collison and Jones entering the final years of their deals. That conceivably allows the Mavs to enter next summer's free agency with enough cap room to sign multiple high-impact free agents.
Though this wasn't the Plan A going into July, the front office led by owner Mark Cuban and general manager Donnie Nelson has scrambled to shore up several gaping holes in the roster magnified by the recent losses of Jason Terry and Jason Kidd.
"Mark and Donnie are always aggressive," Carlisle said. "They have had a pulse on the trade market and free agency, and the goal is to be as competitive as we can be and maintain flexibility.
"We're still working. We plan to keep working here."
Collison, a one-time backup to Chris Paul in New Orleans, has proven he can quarterback a winning team though his playing time dropped off during the playoffs. The Pacers fell to eventual NBA champion Miami in a hard-fought series in the East semifinals.
Kaman agreed to a one-year deal for $8 million. The 30-year-old 7-footer has been a solid player at both ends of the floor (career averages of 11.9 points and 8.3 rebounds) who has struggled to stay healthy for most of his nine-year career.
Kaman immediately steps into the starting center role vacated Thursday by amnesty casualty Brendon Haywood, whose run in Dallas ends after 21/2 seasons.
Philadelphia used the amnesty provision on Brand. Teams under the $58 million salary cap, such as the Mavericks, have the first shot at Brand through a waiver bidding process. The highest bid wins, and the Mavs are planning to make Brand a sizable offer.
Jones is a rugged, defensive-minded swingman who's played for four teams in his nine-year career.
He started 71 games for a Denver squad that reached the West finals in 2009 and averaged a career-high 10.2 points per game for the Pacers three years ago.