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O’Neal or Smith? Mavs don’t appear to be done beefing up

There is little doubt the majority of those following the Dallas Mavericks are glad to see Rajon Rondo in their uniform.

But everything does come with a price, and the price some fans wished the Mavs didn’t have to pay was Brandan Wright. In having to deal him to Boston, they lost an energetic spark off the bench that has affected their depth in the paint. That was made more evident Monday night, when Atlanta’s starting frontcourt burned Dallas for a combined 45 points.

The good news is that all this happened at a time when a surprising number of reliable big men are suddenly on the open market.

It starts with Jermaine O’Neal. The six-time All-Star has been a free agent since playing the last season with Golden State.

At 35, there may be a question of how much the 6-11 big man has left. He averaged 20 minutes per game for the Warriors, scoring just under eight points per game.

The good news is that’s about all the Mavs would likely need from him, especially as someone who can play both the center and power forward positions. It also doesn’t hurt that O’Neal has been living in Dallas and has a past history of playing for Carlisle in Indiana.

Bringing in Rondo, who was a teammate of O’Neal’s for two years in Boston, is said to have greatly impress the 18-year veteran. After the trade, O’Neal told ESPN he was “highly intrigued” at the chance of playing for Dallas.

But O’Neal isn’t the only name being swayed the Mavs’ way any more. Suddenly, the market became a lot bigger on Monday when Josh Smith waived by the Detroit Pistons.

In Smith, the Mavs could get a 29-year old who was All-Defensive second team as recently as 2010. But it does suggest that something was amiss for the Pistons to cut ties two years into a four-year contract that had $26 million remaining. Smith’s 13.1 PPG average was his lowest in nine years, but it may have been his 39 percent shooting percentage (along with 47 percent free throw shooting, lowest of his career) that was the biggest issue.

The other obstacle is that the Mavs are not alone in wanting Smith’s services. Sacramento and Houston are among the multiple teams reportedly putting out feelers for him, and it may come down to who can offer the most money. The Rockets have a mid-level exception they could use to sign Smith that the Mavs don’t have available.

Hoston will no doubt make a huge push to lure Smith, if nothing else because of the extreme game of chicken that Daryl Morey seems to be playing with Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson. Within days of the Mavs getting Rondo, the Rockets went for Corey Brewer.

At the moment, as evidenced by the Mavs struggles against both Atlanta and San Antonio, this team is still working to integrate their new prize in the system. But there may be even more work for Rick Carlisle to do, as with the likes of O’Neal and Smith out there, it seems clear the Mavs are not done adding players.


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