Day one of free agency certainly did not go well for the Mavericks. Many of their rumored top targets came off the board and they even took part in a botched trade of epic proportions. Sure, they signed both Dwight Powell and Kristaps Porzingis to extensions, but those guys were already presumed to be coming back.
The signing of Seth Curry today will certainly bring a smile to the face of Mavs fans everywhere. Seth is one of the most prolific shooters in basketball and was excellent in his previous stint here. But one of the best values of the day, was the Mavericks retaining Würzberg native Maxi Kleber.
The New York Time’s Marc Stein is reporting that the both the Mavs and Kleber came to an agreement on a four-year, $35 million dollar deal with a fourth year player option.
Why is this deal so valuable for Dallas? There are many reasons, but it has a lot to do with the the state of the league. We have often talked about the “Modern NBA” on this site, and a guy like Maxi Kleber’s skill set is becoming more in demand in that setting. Teams are spacing the floor with four, even five knockdown shooters and ball handlers, so teams are searching for guys who can defend in space and protect the rim, two things Kleber excels at.
To quantify, Kleber would be flirting with two blocks per game if he were to play a starters dose of minutes. That would place him top 5 in the entire NBA in BPG, putting him in the elite company of DPOY Rudy Gobert, Joel Embiid, and The Greek Freak. His defensive impact metrics also paint the picture of a highly impactful player. His DBPM was a healthy 2.3 last season, in the neighborhood of some of the games best defensive players. Check the other metrics and you’ll see that Maxi has a 1.5 overall BPM and a 1.3 VORP, all of this essentially meaning one thing: Maxi is a very clear positive on the court, especially on defense.
Another thing bigs have to do in today’s game is shoot the three. Maxi isn’t quite as reliable here as he is defensively, but still is serviceable. He shot 35% from three last year, which hovers around league average. That number takes on a different context though when you understand that it was a fairly drastic improvement from his first season with Dallas. Maxi shot only 31% from distance in year one, which he bumped up four percentage points AND did that while increasing his volume from 1.8 attempts per game to 3.1. For both the organization and for Maxi, this could signify even more improvement down the line.
Signing good players to relatively inexpensive contracts is always a good plan. These kinds of deals will never come back to bite teams because they can always be moved, especially if the player has real value. But this deal has an even greater chance to be a home run because of where Kleber appears to be projecting and where the league is headed. Compare it to guys like Julius Randle at 3 years/$61 million, Bobby Portis at 2 years/$31 million, and 3 years/$40 million for Dewayne Dedmon, and it’s an incredible value. They even got the team option to maintain flexibility towards the end of the deal should Maxi under perform (Which isn’t going to happen).
So bravo to Donnie, Cuban, and co. for this one. Their free agency has been too quiet thus far, but at least they knocked this one out of the park.
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