Falling Up

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 13, 2010 under Commentary, News, Roster Moves | 9 Comments to Read

UPDATE: Per Stein, the deal is official. (Confirmed by Marc Spears)

ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported last night that the ongoing trade negotiations between the Mavs and the Wizards have turned serious. Super serious. As in, we could have an official trade by later tonight. That’s a big jump from “the Mavs are interested in Caron Butler,” and based on the Mavs’ rumored acquisitions? I don’t see how Dallas fans could be anything but pleased.

The deal as reported would send Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, Quinton Ross, and (possibly) James Singleton to Washington in exchange for Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, and DeShawn Stevenson. Butler will undoubtedly be the headline-grabber in Dallas, the real prize here may be Haywood.

Drew Gooden has been solid for the Mavs this year, but Haywood is a legitimate game-changer at center. He’s one of the most physical defenders at the position in the entire league, and an offensive superior to Erick Dampier. Dwight Howard ranked Haywood as the third best defender in the league, and an in-depth look at Haywood’s D over at Bullets Forever only tells us more of the same; the Mavs are adding a center that instantly upgrades their interior defense and rebounding, two things he was able to do in Washington despite some truly miserable circumstances.

Then of course, the Mavs would hope that Caron Butler can return to form, or at the very least, improve on Josh Howard’s production as a Mav. It’s incredibly difficult to tell which parts of Butler’s game are due to a genuine regression and which parts simply come from playing for a terrible team at a terrible time, but Caron has a lot working in his favor with the Mavs. Rick Carlisle is a top-notch coach, and Dirk Nowitzki is an insanely talented and productive player. Jason Kidd makes things so easy on offense, and having an offensive threat like Jason Terry and a defensive weapon like Shawn Marion relieves a lot of pressure. On top of that, Mark Cuban spares no expense in making his players comfortable, and the outlook of the team as a whole is decidedly more optimistic than that of the Wiz. It’s amazing what a change of scenery and a different disposition can do for a player’s performance, and Dallas has all of the ingredients necessary to facilitate a Butler resurgence.

DeShawn Stevenson is the filler element, and he’s essentially the price the Mavs have to pay for Butler and Haywood. Once upon a time he was something of a defensive stalwart, but even that aspect of his game has faded in the last two seasons. Now he’s merely an Abe Lincoln-tatted headcase with an overinflated ego and marginal on-court effectiveness. Stevenson can be destructive, but if his minor distraction is what it takes to bring such substantial talent to the Mavs, then Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban have certainly pulled a fast one on Ernie Grunfeld (or at the very least, managed to capitalize on Grunfeld’s misfortune).

It’s honestly a shame to see the Josh Howard era end under such depressing circumstances, but the Mavs’ brass made a beautiful move. This is more than you could ever hope for from a trade deadline deal, and if the Wizards cut Drew Gooden loose only to re-sign in Dallas some 30 days later? The Mavs get that much deeper, with a pretty fearsome 10-man rotation. If Butler and Haywood indeed find themselves in Maverick uniforms, it might be time to get excited — this team will be absolutely tremendous.

  • finzent

    Wow. That’s a pretty good trade,
    I’m happy about Butler and very very excited about Haywood. From what I’ve seen (and heard, I can’t see everything), he’s a defensive beast.

    But at the same time I am a little sad to see Josh go. He’s been a part of the team for so long, and although he often was the guy you’d shout at the most, he also did a lot for the franchise. I hope he does well in Washington. Gooden was in some ways similar, although he was here for only a few months. Despite his obvious weaknesses, you got the feeling that he really tried hard to help the team, especially the last few months when evereything else went pretty bad.

    Good luck to Singleton and Ross too, of course.

  • Matix

    You have to love this trade. It makes the team better in the short term while not destroying the Mavs ability for a potential sign-and-trade this summer. I still don’t think it makes them better than LA but it gives them the much more upside than staying pat Howard and Gooden.I was concerned that Cuban had waited too long and Josh had lost the most of his trade value due to injury and his off-court antics but it’s great to see Cuban still has the ability to take advantage of teams that are seeking quick changes. With Haywood at the 5 the D is much improved and hopefully Damp can come back with some of the intensity he had at the beginning of the season. Even if it doesn’t put them in true contention this season it helps align the team for success next year if the can convince a big name to sign (I prefer Bosh).

  • Blaine

    I’m definitely glad to see Singleton and Ross go, they were my least favorite Mavs. Everytime either one shot, I just had a bad feeling about it.
    This trade gives me a whole new faith in this year’s team, this could be the best team Cuban has ever put together and match up much, much better to the Lakers than we did before.

  • Cynthia

    I wish Josh would have lived up to the potential he showed the first couple of years with the MAVS. We all thought he’d be so much more than he was been the last few years. I do wish him the best and hopes he turns it around. With Josh not being productive this season, the player I’m sad to see go is Gooden. When we first got him I thought “oh no!” because he’s pretty much always been so goofy on the court. But this year he’s played phenomenally and I will miss him. I’ll be hoping the Wizards waive him and he comes back home. Otherwise though, this is a great trade. Butler even though his numbers are down is still a great player. He instantly upgrades the defense and with playing alongside Dirk and Kidd feeding him the ball there’s no telling how good he can (and will) be. And to finally have a legit center to either backup Damp (or to start) is just thrilling. Haywood is having a career year. Just think what he can do in Big D! If both Butler and Haywood can stay healthy and get integrated into the system quickly I think we will see a vastly improved MAVERICKS.
    Great job by Donnie!
    GO MAVS!

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  • Andrew

    John Hollinger points out, with his very sophisticated Trade Machine analysis device, that the Mavericks only gain one win here. Course, on that thing I can trade Matt Carroll, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry for Durant and Lebron and only gain ten, and if I add a trade of Dampier, Barea and Beaubois for Dwight Howard, you only get 2 more wins, so it may be that the system has some flaws.

    I could probably go a whole season without betting against Lebron, Durant, Butler, Dirk, Howard, personally…

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  • Maurice J Morgan

    I think you are much too harsh on Deshawn Stephenson and I will be the first to laugh when you see what the change of scenery does for him and the midget J.J. Guess who’s better?