In what was supposed to be a relatively uneventful trade season for the Mavs, we know two things:
- The Mavs made a move to swap Kris Humphries and Shawne Williams for Eddie Najera, earning some short-term savings, bringing a fan favorite back to Dallas, and picking up a guy with a positive influence in the locker room.
- Before that, the Mavs tried to package Hump, Williams, and Drew Gooden in a salary-clearing deal for Carlos Boozer that would have saved the Jazz $2.5 million initially, an additional $2.6 million if they decided to waive Gooden, and possibly more if the Mavs threw cash compensations into the deal.
Needless to say, the latter would have been a complete game-changer. If the Mavs had the luxury of bringing Boozer off of the bench (and make no mistake, that’s the role that would best serve the team) instead of Gooden, Dallas immediately becomes a contender for the Western Conference crown and the title. Plus, if the Mavs could have picked up Drew Gooden on the flip side after being waived, they would have a dominant rotation of bigs capable of matching any in the league.
But it wasn’t meant to be. Rather than trade out of their luxury tax obligations by ditching Boozer for pennies (or halves of pennies, really) on the dollar, the 9th place Jazz know that right now they need Carlos Boozer. Deron Williams has quietly had a terrific season, but would he be able to fend off the Thunder, Rockets, Hornets, and Grizzlies with Kris Humphries’ production replacing Boozer’s? Hardly. Booz is absolutely crucial to Utah’s playoff hopes, and while I’m sure that on some level Kevin O’Connor would love nothing more than to rid himself of the headache, he’s well aware of his team’s dependency.
So no Boozer, for now, at least. And now that Drew Gooden’s contract has lost its value to teams over the luxury tax (his salary is now guaranteed for the season), hopefully never. As Stein mentions in his piece over at TrueHoop, the Mavs don’t gain much if they agree to swap Josh Howard or Erick Dampier in a deal for Boozer. That said, Stein cites a different line of logic than I would. According to Marc, trading Howard, Dampier, or another core piece for Boozer is troublesome in that there’s no guarantee of Carlos’ return. That’s true. But the real trouble would be what the Mavs would do this season without either one of those players. If they lose Dampier, the vaunted Mavs’ defense falls to pieces, and Damp’s minutes are ceded to a guy marked by his inability to block shots and his irrelevance as a low post defender. If they lose Josh, the perimeter defense suffers, albeit with a bit less of an overall effect on the team’s success on that end than if they were to trade Damp. Trading Josh seems like the more palatable option…but while Boozer would bolster the Mavs’ rotation in the frontcourt, the backcourt would likely be a mess. No Howard means more Terry (who for all his improvements on defense, is a merely average defender) and more Barea (who has really struggled lately and continues to be a defensive liability), which is a pretty lethal blow to the team defense.
Carlos Boozer would be an interesting addition, and the Mavs took a shot. A long shot, admittedly, but Nelson, Cuban, and Carlisle tried to offer the Jazz exactly what they need. That Utah still fancies themselves contenders for the playoffs seems to be the real complication.