The Dallas Mavericks have reached a verbal agreement with free-agent big man Samuel Dalembert to be their new starting center, according to sources close to the process.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Dalembert has agreed to sign with the Mavericks as they continue to work on the final points of a contract.

Dallas continues to pursue free-agent center Greg Oden along with Miami, New Orleans, Sacramento and San Antonio. But Dalembert emerged as the Mavericks' top priority after they lost out to Houston in the Dwight Howard sweepstakes and decided to pass on Andrew Bynum, who signed with Cleveland.

The Mavericks have discussed the prospect of acquiring Dalembert via trade for years -- including talks with Milwaukee last season that could have sent starting center Chris Kaman to the Bucks -- because they've seen the defensive-minded 7-footer from Haiti as a good stylistic fit next to star forward Dirk Nowitzki.

Other teams can offer more, but sources say that the Mavericks have met face-to-face with Oden twice in the past week and continue to try to sell him on the merits of making his comeback in Dallas, which includes the chance to work with highly rated athletic trainer Casey Smith.