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Getty Christian Wood

In the early going of the NBA’s offseason, the Dallas Mavericks addressed one of last season’s great shortcomings when they acquired two big guys and bolstered the frontcourt, with Christian Wood coming in via trade from Houston and JaVale McGee agreeing to a three-year contract in free agency.

Immediately, though, the question was raised: Aren’t these two both centers, and can they possibly fit together?

Certainly, during his two years with the Rockets, Wood was a pure center, playing 100% of his possessions at that position both years, according to McGee has never been anything but a center, playing that position for what amounts to 100% of his possessions for his entire 14-year career.

That could set up the Mavericks for some controversy. But the team does intend, at least to open the year, to have McGee starting at center alongside Wood at power forward, a position he has played in stretches in the past. That makes some sense, since Wood is a stretch-big who can launch shots out to the 3-point line, having made 39.0% last year and 38.0% from the arc in his career.

McGee is a more traditional rim-running center, effective at grabbing putback opportunities and finishing off lob passes in the middle. According to ESPN’s Tim McMahon, Wood is “wide open” to the idea of playing power forward with McGee starting at center.

I'm told that Christian Wood is "wide open" to the idea of starting at power forward next to JaVale McGee in the Mavericks' frontcourt.

— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) July 1, 2022

Dwight Powell’s Future Murky

While the team seems to have addressed the issue in the middle, there are still some other holes that need filling, and roster spots to address. One of those spots belongs to center Dwight Powell, who is a permanent resident on the Mavericks’ rumor mill, yet has somehow managed to remain with the team for eight seasons.

Powell, the longest-tenured Maverick, played all 82 games last season, and averaged 8.7 points and 4.9 rebounds in 21.9 minutes, and was the starter in all 18 of Dallas’ playoff games. Powell has one year and $11 million on his contract, making him an attractive trade piece, but it is unclear whether the Mavs will look to move him or keep him on as a third big man.

Powell struggled early on in the year but played better as the season went on and, in the playoffs, was a plus-8.7 points per 100 possessions in his on/off numbers.

Dragic Signing Still on Hold

While the team expects Spencer Dinwiddie to fill the void that will be left with the absence of Jalen Brunson, depth at the backup guard spots figures to be filled by the team bringing back Theo Pinson, whom the Mavs hope can be developed into a rotation player, as well as Luka Doncic’s longtime mentor, Goran Dragic.

As of yet, Dragic has not been signed by the Mavericks but around the league, it’s being considered a done deal.

The Mavericks still could use some additional scoring punch off the bench, and Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton has been mentioned as a possible addition. The team has also been linked to Sixers wing Matisse Thybulle for defensive purposes, but more offense is still on the menu.

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US congressional delegation visits Taiwan

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China's consumer and factory data miss expectations in July

Employees working on an air-conditioner production line at a Midea factory in Guangzhou, China.Jade Gao | AFP | Getty Images

BEIJING — China reported data for July that came in well below expectations.

Retail sales grew by 2.7% in July from a year ago, the National Bureau of Statistics said Monday. That's well below the 5% growth forecast by a Reuters poll, and down from growth of 3.1% in  June.

Industrial production rose by 3.8%, also missing expectations for 4.6% growth and a drop from the prior month's 3.9% increase.

Fixed asset investment for the first seven months of the year rose by 5.7% from a year ago, missing expectations for 6.2% growth.

Investment into real estate fell at a faster pace in July than June, while investment into manufacturing slowed its pace of growth. Investment into infrastructure rose at a slightly faster pace in July than in June. Fixed asset investment data is only released on a year-to-date basis.

The unemployment rate among China's youth, ages 16 to 24, was a high 19.9%. The unemployment rate across all ages in cities was 5.4%.

Analyst forecasts for July were projected to show a pickup in economic activity from June, as China put the worst of this year's Covid-related lockdowns behind it, especially in the metropolis of Shanghai.

Exports remained robust last month, surging by 18% year-on-year in U.S. dollar terms despite growing concerns of falling global demand. Imports lagged, climbing by just 2.3% in July from a year earlier.

However, China's massive real estate sector has come under renewed pressure this summer. Many homebuyers halted their mortgage payments to protest developer delays in constructing homes, which are typically sold ahead of completion in China.

The deterioration in confidence puts developers' future sales — and an important source of cash flow — at risk.

The potential for a Covid outbreak has remained another drag on sentiment. A surge of infections in tourist destinations, especially the island province of Hainan, stranded tens of thousands of tourists this month.

The local situation reflects the large gap between goals set at the beginning of the year and the ensuing reality. Hainan had set a GDP target of 9%, but was only able to grow by 1.6% in the first six months.

Similarly, at a national level, China's GDP grew by just 2.5% in the first half of the year, running well below the full-year target of around 5.5% set in March.

China's top leaders indicated at a meeting in late July the country might miss its GDP goal for the year. The meeting did not signal any forthcoming large-scale stimulus, while noting the importance of stabilizing prices.

The country's consumer price index hit a two-year high in July as pork prices rebounded.

Read more about China from CNBC Pro

JPMorgan says buy this undervalued Chinese biopharma stock that can rally more than 40% from here

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