DALLAS — Since losing center Tyson Chandler to the New York Knicks in free agency following their 2010-11 NBA championship run, there’s been a gaping hole in the middle of the Dallas Mavericks’ defense.
Chandler, who served as the Mavericks’ defensive catalyst, left behind a void in the middle of the Dallas defense that since hasn’t been filled. However, with the off-season acquisition of center Samuel Dalembert, the Mavericks believe they may have finally filled that vacancy as the 6-foot-11, 250-pounder tries to resurrect his career.
“I think Sam [Dalembert] really helps us there, because he’s a true rim protector and a rebounder,” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said while praising the 11-year veteran big man. “I think obviously when we had Dirk [Nowitzki] back (after missing the first 27 games following preseason arthroscopic knee surgery) our defense improved, because teams had to spend a lot more attention on him and Dirk’s obviously a good rebounder as well. … We should be better defensively, but it really depends on what our pace is, and that will be up to Coach [Rick Carlisle].”
Offense wasn’t a problem for the Mavs last season, ranking eighth in the league in scoring while putting up 101.3 points an outing and fifth in assists while dishing out 23.2 dimes per game. Those numbers figure to only improve with a healthy Nowitzki set to team with cat-quick new additions Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis and Devin Harris in the backcourt.
However, after giving up 101.7 points a night to opponents and ranking just 16th in the Association while pulling down 41.9 rebounds a game a season ago, the need for Dalembert to dominate the interior is apparent.
“You know, Sam [Dalembert] has been around this league a long time. … He’s going to give us rim protection and rebounding, and he’s going to sure up our defense,” Carlisle said, noting that Dalembert’s career averages of 8.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks during stints with Philadelphia, Sacramento, Houston and Milwaukee should immediately help the Dallas team inside.
That all suits the league’s only Haitian-born player and a former Seton Hall standout just fine, looking to take over the Mavs’ dirty work duties as the team tries to return to the playoffs following a 41-41 season.
“First of all, I want to say what an honor it is to be here with a great team,” a humble Dalembert said, “and I want to thank Mark Cuban for the resurrection. Thank you so much, and I’m ready to go. … It’s an honor and a privilege for me to be in a great organization and with a great group of guys. It’s a well put together team. I always look forward to being on a winning team. You know, I miss that, and I feel like this is my chance and opportunity.
“[Defense] is what I like to do,” he added. “That’s what I take joy and passion in doing, and like you heard Mark Cuban, sometimes you’ve got to be put in the right situation and the right place. I think, from the bottom of my heart, this is the right situation and the right place for me. You know, being out there protecting Dirk and then the other guys, that can make us have a fast break — grab the rebound and get easy baskets. … That’s why I go back to the resurrection. The old Sammy D.”