The Mavericks are moving quickly to fill the unexpected vacancy left by Tim Thomas, with veteran Brian Cardinal emerging as the early favorite to sign a free-agent contract, league sources told NBA.com. A deal, however, has not been reached as Dallas continues to consider other options.
Those possibilities include Bobby Simmons and Steve Novak. Cardinal appears to have the edge in discussions within team circles based on his experience, shooting range and work ethic.
Cardinal, a 10-year veteran, spent the last two years in Minnesota. The 6-foot-8 forward out of Purdue failed to live up to the six-year, $45 million deal he signed in 2004 with Memphis. Still, Cardinal could give the Mavericks some much-needed depth behind All-Star power forward Dirk Nowitzki.
The front office thought it had ample insurance with Thomas, who missed most of last season to care for his ill wife Tricia. Thomas signed a new one-year contract with Dallas this offseason after it appeared his wife had recovered to the point where he could play again.
Earlier this week that situation changed. Thomas informed the team that he would again need to tend to his wife this season. The Mavs have contacted the league seeking to void Thomas’ contract.
Cardinal, 33, has career averages of 5.4 points and 2.7 rebounds over 356 games. His best season was 2003-04 in Golden State when he averaged 9.6 points and 4.2 rebounds in 76 games. He signed the monster deal with the Grizzlies that summer.
Simmons, 30, exploded onto the scene with the Clippers during the 2004-05 season, averaging 16.4 points and 5.9 boards and won Most Improved Player honors in 2005. He cashed in with $47 million, five-year contract with Milwaukee that offseason, but has been a non-factor for several seasons.
Novak, 27, is a four-year vet having played his first two seasons in Houston and his last two with the Los Angeles Clippers. He owns career averages of 4.1 points and 1.1 rebounds.