As the season has progressed, the Dallas Mavericks have become increasingly pleased with the production of center Samuel Dalembert.
Two games earlier this week serve as a barometer for how Dalembert has played lately.
In Sunday’s game against Brooklyn, Dalembert collected 12 points and season highs in rebounds (15) and blocks (seven). On Tuesday against Oklahoma City, the 12-year veteran finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.
“Sam’s been great,” owner Mark Cuban said. “He’s been going to the offensive boards and having a huge impact, keeping possessions alive even when he doesn’t get rebounds, blocking shots, finishing around the basket, hitting his little jumper.
“He’s doing all the things we hoped he would do when we signed him, and then some.”
Dalembert, who shook off a stiff back to start Thursday against the Los Angeles Clippers, is averaging 6.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. But he’s averaging only 20.2 minutes, which limits his overall production.
“I have to be able to find my niche,” the 6-foot-11 Dalembert said. “I watch a lot of film and try to maximize my time out there.
“At 20 minutes a game sometimes when you get back in it’s a different lineup and you got to get a feel for everybody and then know exactly what they like to do. Thank God I’ve been very successful with that.”
Coach Rick Carlisle was delighted to see Dalembert start and play significant minutes, particularly because the Clippers have a 6-11 center of their own in DeAndre Jordan.
“There aren’t many guys that can match up with Jordan’s size and length,” Carlisle said. “Sam’s one of the few guys that has size similar to Jordan.”
Cuban believes Dalembert, who is earning $3.7 million this season, might have been the steal of last summer’s free-agent class.
“I said over and over it’s not how he starts, it’s how he finishes,” Cuban said. “If he continues to play like this he’ll be one of the best values of free agency.”
Timeout for Ellis
Monta Ellis is averaging a team-high 36.6 minutes per game, which is too high for Carlisle’s taste.
Carlisle said he assured Ellis last summer during free agency that he would reduce the guard’s 36-plus minutes he averaged the past five seasons.
“That’s one of my big failures this year is his high minutes total,” Carlisle said. “The good thing about him is he’s the kind of athlete that can play a lot of minutes and absorb a lot of minutes as long as you give him the right strategic rest at the right time.”
Cuban tackling MLB?
After saying that the NFL might implode in 10 years, Cuban took on Major League Baseball on Thursday.
Well. Sort of.
When asked if he had a beef with pro baseball, Cuban said: “I love the commissioner [Bud Selig]. I think he’s tops. I don’t think there’s anyone better.
“I hope they sign him up for another 10 years and give him [Miguel] Cabrera money. Because there’s no cap, the commissioner ought to get paid the highest salary per year.”
Briefly• After Jose Calderon shook after facial injuries to shoot 7-of-10 and score 22 points Tuesday against Oklahoma City, Cuban jokingly said: “I told him I was going to punch him in the mouth and make sure he shoots like that again.”
• On SMU advancing to the NIT Final Four, Cuban said: “I think it’s great for SMU. I think it’s good for the program.’’