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Report: Mavericks targeting Jermaine O’Neal to replace Brandan Wright

Golden State Warriors v Dallas Mavericks

DALLAS, TX - APRIL 1: Jermaine O’Neal #7 of the Golden State Warriors drunks the ball during the game against the Dallas Mavericks on April 1, 2014 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE/Getty Images

Trading for Rajon Rondo definitely increases the Mavericks’ upside.

But the deal carries real risk. Brandan Wright has played extremely well in a limited role behind Tyson Chandler. Regardless of whether that’s a credit to Wright or his surroundings, he’s a key reason the Mavericks are the NBA’s only team whose 10 most-used lineups have each outscored opponents.

Not only did Wright provide useful game-to-game depth, he served as insurance if 32-year-old Chandler – who missed 27 games last season – got injured.

So where do the Mavericks turn from here? Perhaps to free agent Jermaine O’Neal, who lives near Dallas and is deciding whether he wants to still play.

Tim Cato of Mavs Moneyball:

https://twitter.com/tim_cato/status/545724844487081984

Marc Stein of ESPN:

https://twitter.com/ESPNSteinLine/status/545986354966831104

O’Neal played very well for the Warriors last season, averaging 7.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in 20.1 minutes per game. At 36, there’s always a risk his production falls off a cliff, and he can’t regularly play major minutes.

But the Mavericks don’t need him to do too much. Just play behind Chandler, maybe even splitting the role with Greg Smith until the playoffs get closer. There’s no free agent better for this than O’Neal, and Dallas already spent key trade assets to get Rondo.

The Mavericks should feel good about landing Rondo. You don’t turn down a player of his caliber because you’re worried it will downgrade your team at backup center. But if they can add O’Neal, they should feel much more comfortable with the deal.