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Dallas Mavericks will reportedly go ‘cheaper’ on center upgrade: 3 possible free agent options

Jason Burgos
dallas mavericks
Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

It seems that if the Dallas Mavericks try to upgrade their center position this summer, they will likely go bargain shopping to do so.

The Mavericks’ front court was not an area of strength during their 2021-2022 campaign. Nevertheless, the superstar efforts of Luka Doncic and the impressive play of Jalen Brunson helped the team surpass expectations and reach the Western Conference Finals in May.

However, losing four of five against the Golden State Warriors proved that they are still a good bit away from being a serious title contender. Since their elimination from the NBA Playoffs, there has been speculation about the Mavs taking a big swing at landing a star center. Some have suggested they could trade for Jazz star Rudy Gobert or Suns restricted free agent Deandre Ayton. Yet a new report claims Dallas Mavericks fans should not get their hopes on such an addition.

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On Saturday, NY Post NBA insider Marc Berman revealed that while the organization understands the need to upgrade on the likes of Dwight Powell and Max Kleber, they may not have the salary-cap space to acquire a truly impactful big man. Especially with the team expected to re-sign Brunson.

“Meanwhile, an NBA source said center-starved Dallas is not expected to be interested in [Knicks center Mitchell Robinson] at his hefty price tag (at least $11M per year), and have set their sights on cheaper free-agent centers,” Berman wrote.

3 affordable free-agent centers for the Dallas Mavericks

dallas mavericks
Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Despite having a roster with only one guaranteed All-Star talent, the organization does not have much money to offer free agents this summer. Especially after they bring back Brunson for what will be a sizable raise in annual pay.

That means the Mavericks will have to dig deep in the bargain bin to find “cheaper” options that could still be difference makers in 2022-2023. There are a wide variety of free-agent options when it comes to centers this summer. Ranging from well-known veterans on the decline, starter-level talents that could be had on prove-it contracts, or players with some upside deserving of more playing time to prove it.

One option that might be worth taking a chance on is DeMarcus Cousins. Surely he is not the player he once was after a variety of career-altering injuries. But at only 30, there is a possibility the team could capture some lightning in a bottle while also getting a front-court player that is a reliable scorer. Something they lacked last season.

Hassan Whiteside would be another worthwhile addition as a proven rim protector and defensive anchor for a group that also needs that. However, as a player that has earned major paydays in the past, he may only sign on a one-year deal so that he can increase his value and return to free agency in 2022. So there is some risk there.

  • DeMarcus Cousins stats (2021-2022): 9.0 PPG, 5.6 REB, 1.5 AST

A player with potential deserving of opportunity could be four-year veteran Isaiah Hartenstein. Maybe with Jason Kidd’s guidance, the former Rockets’ second-round pick could produce similar numbers to his short run in Cleveland where he averaged eight points and six rebounds in just 18 minutes. As a starter earning 27 minutes a game or more, Hartenstein could become a double-double machine in Dallas.