As everyone knows by now, multiple sources have reported Dirk opting to proceed with knee surgery rather than waiting another week to evaluate his progress.
Even if recovery takes longer than anticipated, this is completely one of those “when one door closes another opens” situations and a temporary one at that.
Tonight the Mavs will play their third game without Dirk and so far there have been ups and downs, most notably the team struggling on defense and with turnovers, problems not related to Dirk. That’s just more stuff for this new and relatively young group to work on under the capable mentorship of Rick Carlisle.
Another ongoing concern will be Chris Kaman’s health. Already suffering from his second injury in this young preseason, one can’t help but wonder how well he’s going to hold up through the season.
A healthy Kaman will provide the team with the best offensive center they’ve ever had, which is great for any team and uniquely wonderful for Dirk, who has never had a complementary scorer in the post. With that in jeopardy it’s essential the Mavericks develop other scoring both inside and out. Brandan Wright continues to improve but he also has a history of injuries and struggles with defending the bigger NBA centers down low. While Bernard James shows great promise he is still working on developing his offense. These guys are both viable part-time options but behind them is only Elton Brand who can get away with playing center for stretches but doesn’t have the size and will be stretched to provide those minutes while starting for Dirk.
It’s time to consider another backup big man. The Mavs flirted with signing Brazilian center Rafael Hettsheimeir but that never materialized. I personally felt Yi Jianlian remains a player with potential at an affordable price but it appears he’s headed home. Sean Williams is another option, having been traded by the Celtics to the Rockets and cut at the end of August.
With most of the other available free agents scooped up by other teams, the Mavericks might consider trading someone from the surplus of young guards for a serviceable backup in the post. The Mavericks know what options are out there and might need to take a serious look at additional depth up front.