July 10, 2013

Mavericks scrambling again after Bynum chooses Cavaliers

Andrew Bynum accepts Cleveland’s offer not long after meeting with Dallas.

For the second time in a six-day span, a free agent center with close ties to the Los Angeles Lakers has rejected the Dallas Mavericks.

Friday, ex-Lakers center Dwight Howard scratched the Mavs off his free agent list and decided to sign a four-year, $88 million contract with the Houston Rockets.

On Wednesday, the Mavs had lunch with Plan B, center Andrew Bynum, and his agent, David Lee, at a swanky hotel near downtown Dallas.

But not long after Bynum digested his food, the Mavs were told the 7-foot, 285-pound pivotman had agreed to a two-year, incentive-laden $24.5 million contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Mavs are quickly moving on, however. Team officials are scheduled to meet Thursday with 32-year-old, Samuel Dalembert in Dallas.

Howard’s decision forced the Mavs into Plan B in their quest to find a center with an above-average game at both ends of the court.

Bynum didn’t play at all last season with Philadelphia due to injuries to both knees, but had started in the 2012 NBA All-Star Game for the West while playing for the Lakers.

With the Cavaliers, however, Bynum will earn $12 million this upcoming season — $6 million of it is guaranteed — and $12.5 million in the 2014-15 campaign, which will be at the Cavs’ option.

The Mavs made no former offer to Bynum because they were still reviewing his medical history when they received the news that he was joining the Cavs.

With Howard and Bynum off the table, the Mavs’ choices have dwindled to Dalembert; their own free agents, Brandan Wright and Elton Brand; and injury-plagued Greg Oden.

Oden, whom Portland made the top overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, is a long shot with a history of knee problems.

Last year for the Bucks, Dalembert played just 47 games because of injuries and averaged 6.7 points and 5.9 rebounds in only 16.3 minutes per game.

A journeyman, Dalembert spent the first nine years of his career with the 76ers. But the next squad the slender 6-11, 250-pound center signs with will be his fifth team over the past five seasons.

Dalembert’s best year was the 2007-08 campaign when he averaged 10.5 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks while starting in all 82 games for the Sixers. He averaged 33.2 minutes and shot 51.3 percent from the field that season.

A Haitian-Canadian, Dalembert’s last year with the Sixers was during the 2009-10 campaign. He followed that up by playing for the Sacramento Kings, Rockets and Bucks.

The next team Dalembert suits up for may be the Mavs, whose only center on their current roster is second-year veteran Bernard James.

Upgrade at point

The Mavericks have gone overboard in making sure they will have solid playmakers at point guard. They drafted Shane Larkin (Miami), signed free agent Gal Mekel and have agreed to terms with free agents Jose Calderon and Devin Harris.

The Mavs hope they will help them reduce turnovers and mental mistakes in the backcourt.

“It was an emphasis for us this year to go out and make sure we cover that point guard position and make Dirk’s life a little bit easier than it was last year,” Nelson said, referencing star forward Dirk Nowitzki.


• After missing out on Dwight Howard in free agency, Donnie Nelson was asked if Plan B has worked out. “I think,” he said, “that’s in the eye of the beholder.”
• Asked if the Mavs plan to add more backcourt help, he said: “That’s probably a long shot.”

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