The Mavericks got some upsetting news last week when they learned veteran power forward Tim Thomas, who had to leave the team last season to care for his ill wife, would be unable to re-join the team for the coming season, despite signing a contract. With Thomas out of the picture, Dallas has started looking for his replacement as the team’s backup to Dirk Nowitzki, according to Art Garcia of NBA.com.
Players under consideration include Brian Cardinal and Steve Novak, two jump-shooting veteran big men. Swingman Bobby Simmons, who can masquerade as a power forward in smallball lineups for brief stretches, is another possibility. But Cardinal is the frontrunner to land the gig, reports Garcia, “based on his experience, shooting range and work ethic.”
Cardinal is a 10-year veteran with career averages of 5.4 points and 2.7 rebounds. He is seven years removed from his best season, in which he averaged an improbable 16.1 points, 7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists while making 44.4 percent of his three-pointers for the Warriors. He’s still in the league due to his hustle, energy, and willingness to do the unglamorous things on the court. In this way, he’s remarkably similar to departed Mavs forward Eduardo Najera, whom the team sent to the Bobcats in the Tyson Chandler trade earlier this summer.
Novak is a jump-shooting specialist in the strictest sense of the term. He has made 40.3 percent of his three-pointers in his four-year career, while taking more than 70 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. At 6-foot-10 and 220 pounds, he has the size of a power forward, but not the skill-set; he has averaged one rebound for every nine minutes he’s been on the court, and has blocked a grand total of 10 shots.
Simmons parlayed his outstanding 2004/05 season with the L.A. Clippers into a fat contract, but has sharply declined since. He only managed 23 appearances last season despite playing for the Nets, who posted the league’s worst record at 12-70. Although he didn’t show it last season, Simmons is an above-average three-point shooter at 40.1 percent, and is particularly lethal from the corners.