The Dallas Mavericks have signed two relatively high-profile players to their training camp roster, causing a bit of a stir among those who closely follow the team. While they are hardly household names, forward Renaldo Balkman and center Fab Melo are much more widely known than the usual D-League players who make up most of the training camp signings.
As exciting as it may be to have a renowned high-intensity defensive player in Balkman and a young big man with some potential in Melo, fans and media alike would be wise to avoid getting too attached to either of the new Mavericks. The fact is that Dallas already has 15 players on guaranteed contracts going into the season, the maximum allowed by the NBA.
It’s possible that the Mavericks’ front office could move one of those guaranteed contracts if any of the other five players absolutely wowed them during training camp and throughout the preseason. However, Balkman is 29 years old, has only played in 35 games in the past five seasons, including being out of the league entirely last year. Even though he was at one time an effective player, it seems far-fetched that the Mavericks would sacrifice one of their veteran team leaders or young players with lots of upside for him.
Melo is at a very different place in his career but has an equally poor chance of making the final roster. It’s true that just one year ago he was a first-round draft pick by the Boston Celtics, but he’s already been traded and then waived by his new team, the Memphis Grizzlies. If he was really any good, the rebuilding Celtics probably wouldn’t have traded him for little more than salary relief, and the Grizzlies certainly wouldn’t have waived him for literally nothing. He only played in six NBA games in his rookie campaign, spending most of his time on the Celtics’ D-League team.
The raw skill is there for Melo, but he isn’t close to being ready to make an impact on an NBA team. The Mavericks are trying to avoid going into a true rebuild, which means they won’t want to waste a roster spot on a guy who may or may not be able to contribute at some point down the road. In fact, they already have a veteran center in Samuel Dalembert and younger players with potential in Brandan Wright, DeJuan Blair and Bernard James, leaving little room on the roster for Melo.
For reference, the five players who are on non-guaranteed contracts, and thus will almost certainly not be around once the regular season starts, are Balkman, Melo, D.J. Kennedy, Richard McConnell and Devin Ebanks. While it can be fun to ponder what kind of a fit these players would be in Dallas, even those five know that they won’t be staying, save for an injury or some unforeseen circumstances. They signed because they have a chance to at least re-enter the consciousness of NBA front offices and possibly catch on somewhere else.
No matter the end result of these signings, there is at least a chuckle to be had at how “Renaldo Balkman” sounds like someone with food in their mouth trying to pronounce the name of Mavericks great Rolando Blackman, even if that’s all that ends up coming from the signing.