While the Dallas Mavericks are as aware as anyone about the need to bring in the right complementary star to put alongside Luka Doncic, one thing the team knows it will need for sure as long as Doncic is on board is big men who can shoot. Doncic is a great passer who breaks down any NBA defense, so having a big guy who can draw out a defender and knock down shots when left open is key.
For the most part, Maxi Kleber has fit that bill with Dallas. The 30-year-old German has, since his rookie season, averaged 4.0 3-point attempts per game and made 36.5% of them. He struggled with oblique and ankle injuries last year, though, and shot 39.8% from the field and only 32.5% from the 3-point line.
All was forgiven in the postseason, though, as Kleber played a big role in getting the Mavs to the conference finals, averaging 8.7 points on 50.9% shooting and 43.6% 3-point shooting. His accuracy was critical in getting past Utah in the opening round, as he helped neutralize defensive force Rudy Gobert by taking small-ball minutes at center and making 51.6% of his 3s in the series.
His reward: a new contract extension with the Mavs, worth $33 million over three years, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Kleber Was Heading Into the Final Year of his Contract
Kleber had been heading into the final year of a four-year, $36 million contract he’d signed in 2019, and he is now under contract through 2026, depending on the deal’s option years.
Though he struggled during the season last year, coach Jason Kidd noted that he was happy that Kleber did not seem to lose his confidence.
“What I love about Maxi [Kleber] and what he’s doing, is he’s shooting the ball still,” Kidd said in March. “Most people just turn it down and not even look. He’s shooting it and they do look good — I swear they’re going in.”
Kidd’s patience with Kleber did pay off with the way he played in the postseason. What remains to be seen, though, is whether the Mavericks’ offseason could have a negative effect on Kleber this year.
Christian Wood, JaVale McGee Were Added to Mavs’ Frontcourt
The two biggest moves the Mavs made this summer, of course, came in the frontcourt, with the big trade that brought in Christian Wood from Houston and the major free-agent signing that added JaVale McGee from Phoenix.
As it stands, it’s likely that McGee will be the starting center with Dorian Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock as the forwards. Wood will come off the bench to back up McGee, and could play some power forward, too. Kleber, then, would be the fourth big man in the group.
There will be minutes to be had. McGee, after all, is 34 and played 15.8 minutes per game last season—he has played 20-plus minutes per game only once in the last 10 years. But the Mavs also have longtime center Dwight Powell in the mix and could look to get sharpshooting forward Davis Bertans some minutes, too.
Bertans came over in the Kristaps Porzingis-Spencer Dinwiddie deal from Washington as a salary dump, but Dallas could look to give him a fresh start. Even if that is the case, though, look for Kleber to get regular playing time.