The Dallas Mavericks’ gaping void in the frontcourt has finally been filled. According to reports, Amar’e Stoudemire will join Mark Cuban’s club after being bought-out by the New York Knicks earlier this week.
It’s long been assumed that the six-time All-Star would sign with the Mavs once officially released by the Knicks and going unclaimed on the waiver wire. While the former scenario was in doubt before All-Star Weekend, the latter never was assuming Stoudemire could reach buy-out terms with New York – his $23.4 million salary is too big for any team in basketball to absorb as a waiver claim.
ESPN reported the likelihood of the former Phoenix Suns superstar joining Dallas earlier this month, and it’s a marriage that makes sense from multiple perspectives despite other contending teams expressing interest in his services. Not only is the Mavericks’ management extremely familiar with Stoudemire’s representation at Relativity Sports, but he should prove a relatively seamless on-court fit for Rick Carlisle, too.
The 32 year-old isn’t the wildly explosive scorer or athlete he was during his Phoenix heyday – far from it. Dallas has been lacking a viable reserve big man ever since parting with Brandan Wright in the Rajon Rondo trade, though, and Stoudemire will actually offer the Mavericks more offensive versatility than the lob-slamming lefty did. He’s a viable roller and popper upon setting ball-screens, can still create his own shot in a pinch, and provides a sense of spacing most reserve centers don’t – the latter of which is an especially valuable attribute considering how defense’s bend away from Rondo.
It’s the other end, of course, where Amar’e struggles. He’s not a shot-blocker, can’t ably defend post scoring threats, and has altogether lacked the commitment and understanding to be anything but a defensive negative throughout his career. That his once elite quick-twitch athleticism continues to deteriorate only contributes to those struggles, too.
But Wright was no stopper for the Mavs, either, and the same can be said for Charlie Villanueva, Greg Smith, and converted wing Richard Jefferson in their recently expanded roles. Stoudemire will be a rebounding upgrade for Dallas the very least, and his relatively big body will be a boon when Dallas has to bang with massive opposing frontcourts come spring.
We’re always glad when players like Stoudemire find a way to a winning team in old age. When roster construction of the group in question is an ideal on-paper match for the subject, it’s easily to get especially excited. And though Amar’e is a role player with the Mavericks, any needle movement in the tightly packed West always matters, too.
A win for Stoudemire and a win for Dallas is a loss for their conference competitors – the only question now is the extent of that effect.