Perspective: A Swingman, A Defensive Center, An Abe Lincoln Tattoo

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 15, 2010 under Roster Moves | Be the First to Comment

Perspectives of all kinds from various media members, from the blogosphere to the mainstream, on the Mavs’ big trade:

Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don’t Lie: “Butler has long been a minutes sopper. He’s not going to go off for 30 points consistently, but when he’s at his best he brings extended all-around production, and that means a lot to a team that doesn’t have much depth like the Mavericks. He’s not only replacing Josh Howard’s minutes, but he’s taking minutes from Jose Juan Barea by pushing Jason Kidd down a position for longer stretches. And while Barea’s contributions are to be appreciated, the Mavs can’t be more than second round fodder if he’s playing 20 minutes a night. And he’s averaged 21.9 thus far this season. This depends on Butler picking it up, however. It wasn’t just his unfamiliarity with Saunders’ offense, he was clearly alternately taking possessions off, and jacking up shots. He made no effort to immerse himself in an offense that could have really played to his strengths, and he’ll be hooking up with another coach (Rick Carlisle) that demands that plays actually be run properly. He’ll also be hooking up with one of the best coaches in the NBA, so here’s hoping he’s aware of his luck. The turnaround will be on Butler. If he pulls himself above the muck of the middling and the average, and turns into the Butler of old (even with fewer shots and fewer chances to dominate), these Mavericks could have a chance. If he pulls the same routine we saw in Washington, the Mavericks might as well be starting Josh Howard.”

John Hollinger, (Insider): “So how much better does that lofty sum make Dallas? Based on player efficiency rating, it doesn’t move the needle much. Our Trade Machine analysis is that the swap improves Dallas by only one win for the remainder of the season, largely because this season the difference in performance between Butler and Howard is much smaller than generally perceived. In fact, statistically, there’s been virtually no difference between the two players over the past four seasons, including this one, in which Butler’s numbers have been down just as sharply as Howard’s. For the Mavs, the success of the trade might come down to the names in agate type, not the headliners. That is, Haywood and Gooden may be fairly similar in terms of PER, but look at plus-minus stats and a very different picture emerges. According to, Dallas gives up 11.25 points per 100 possessions more with Gooden on the court, one of the worst marks in basketball…On the other hand, Haywood’s plus-minus numbers over the past half-decade have been spectacular. This season, for instance, Washington is 8.46 points per 100 possessions better with him on the court…That said, the deal overall still leaves me with more questions than answers. How is Butler going to defend opposing shooting guards when he can’t even guard small forwards? How will the Mavs juggle minutes up front between Haywood and Erick Dampier, especially when they’re likely to play extended stretches with…Nowitzki playing the 5?…Without such a second trade…it appears the Mavs are spending a total of $30 million just to improve their odds of making the second round. Even after this deal, I don’t like their chances to beat Denver or Utah, let alone the likes of the Lakers.”

Bethlehem Shoals, FanHouse: “Regardless, this deal is as lopsided as everyone thought the Pau Gasol was in the spring 2008…That transaction spurred Dallas’s acquisition of Jason Kidd, the Suns’s wholesale conversion to the church of Shaquille O’Neal, and the Cavs trading their entire team and coming up with Delonte West where once Larry Hughes was…at the time, it felt like everyone was loading up for the end of the world…For the Mavs, it was a fine time to make a move. Butler was there for the taking, their 2010 hopes were always slim – locking down Dirk should be enough – and Kidd’s days are numbered. But all of us little people want to know: Will this deal set off another arms race, or be seen as an isolated case of opportunism?…Suppose, though, that Dallas trade is interpreted as a sign, and every other big team moves. Cleveland pairs Amare and LeBron, Wade and Bosh become best friends in Miami. Would these be trial runs, ploys to keep these superstars close to home, or actual long-term plans that just happen to unfold a few months in advance?…Dallas has raised the stakes; ergo, Cleveland and Miami might be in a scramble to win a title and seriously contend (respectively). Or, an equally likely possibility: Dallas goes for it now, as Boston might, because their window is closing. However strange it may sound, the more cluttered this season becomes for the Cavs or Heat, the fewer promises/surprises they have to pull once 2009-10 winds down.”

Kevin Pelton, Basketball Prospectus: “Having Butler means Rick Carlisle has the kind of flexibility with lineups he anticipated coming into the season. For the most part, Shawn Marion has played at small forward, stepping into Howard’s old role as a starter and rarely swinging down to the four-spot. A forward duo of Butler and Marion could be very difficult for opponents, especially with Dirk Nowitzki creating matchup problems at center at times…Besides their financial situation, Dallas was in an ideal situation to upgrade at the trade deadline because the Mavericks’ position in the standings has been better than their play on the court. At 32-20, Dallas is just 2.5 games behind second-place Denver in the Western Conference and fourth overall in the West, but the Mavericks’ have outscored opponents by just 1.7 points per game. Even accounting for a more difficult schedule than average, their +2.2 schedule-adjusted differential is 12th in the league in eighth in the conference. As a result, you’d expect a correction in Dallas’ record the rest of the way, but this trade may prevent that from happening and allow the Mavericks to take advantage of their good fortune so far.”

Josh Howard, Washington Wizards:

Photo by Glenn James/Getty Images.

Mike Fisher, “We often talk about the Mavs “having a plan’’ as opposed to simply “spending to assemble a Fantasy Basketball Team,’’ or worse, grab-bagging their way through moves. This? It all looks like the result of ‘having a plan.’’…A Draft-Day trade. A Summer of 2009 free-agent Sign-and-Trade. A minor deal with New Jersey. A major deal with Washington. And (with the help of ‘JES’ and David Lord of the 75-Member Staff) here’s what Dallas has done, depth-chart-wise, with its dollars and sense:

Shifted from paying $94,743,434 for:
Dampier – Hollins – Williams
Nowitzki – Bass – Singleton
Howard – George – Stackhouse
Wright – Green – Carroll
Kidd – Terry – Barea
and drafting BJ Mullens

To paying $87,707,016 for:
Haywood – Dampier
Nowitzki – Thomas – Najera
Marion – Stevenson
Butler – Terry – Carroll
Kidd – Beaubois – Barea
with Calethes, Nivins, OKC’s 2010 2nd-round pick an a $2.9 mil trade exception[.]”

Henry Abbott, TrueHoop: This is hardly just a Caron Butler trade, however. In fact, for the Mavericks, the big prize of the day may well be center Brendan Haywood…The Wizards have been pretty miserable this season. But they have been dramatically less miserable with Brendan Haywood on the court. Basketball Value pins his adjusted plus/minus at better than plus-eight points per 100 possessions. That’s one of the top 30 ratings in the NBA, ahead of the likes of Ray Allen, Tim Duncan and even Caron Butler. says that Haywood is part of the Wizards’ nine most effective lineups. When a player has those kinds of plus/minus statistics, but is not an All-Star, if typically means he knows something about playing D. When he’s on the court, Brendan Haywood grabs about 18% of the available rebounds. At age 30, that’s the best rate of his career. It’s also good for 21st in the NBA, in nice company with Andrew Bogut, David Lee, Shaquille O’Neal, Kendrick Perkins and the like. It’s also slightly better than Drew Gooden, whose place Haywood would take in Dallas.

Marc Stein (@STEIN_LINE_HQ), “In response to any suggestion out there that Haywood could have been held onto by Wiz: Mavs would never have done this deal without Haywood[.]“

Kyle Weidie, Truth About It: “In Butler, Dallas knows they are getting a former All-Star, but they don’t know if he’ll be compatible. Sure, Butler liked to be seen on the scene, but he always kept it classy. Caron Butler is a good guy with strong character. But can his game get along with Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki? Will he adjust for them as he did not do for Flip Saunders? Brendan Haywood has been playing motivated enough in a contract year, what happens to the games of Butler and DeShawn Stevenson in their respective fresh starts?”

Mike Prada, Bullets Forever: “It’s not just about getting no talent back or not clearing enough salary to get under the luxury tax this year.  It’s not just about sacrificing two somewhat valuable assets for nothing more than a little extra room under the luxury tax and flexibility in 2011.  It’s not just about bringing in two guys who aren’t great characters and would take away minutes from the young players. No, it’s about the coalescence of bad planning, a bad read of the market, a lack of creativity, misplaced priorities and a lack of understanding about what the fans want and what they want to hear.  That’s why this trade stinks.”

Mike Jones, Mike Jones Sports: “Did the Wizards come up on the short end of the stick by not being able to get a draft pick in the mix? Possibly. But given Washington’s situation — their 17-33 record and the fact that it was no secret that they needed to blow this team up — they didn’t have as much leverage as they could have. I’m told they approached — and continue to approach — the trade deadline with somewhat of a checklist. They wanted/want to make deals that give them A) salary relief, B) young talent and or C) future picks. The Wizards would have viewed a deal that gave them all three as fantastic, a deal that gave them one of the two as great, and a deal that at least gave them salary relief as pretty good. Since they didn’t really get any young talent in this trade, then this is a pretty good trade because in it they got a former All-Star in Howard and a player with starting experience in winning situations in Gooden, who also provides a low-post presence. And they get two players (Ross and Singleton) that they can evaluate.”

Dave Berri, Wages of Wins Journal: “Given this roster, how good are the Mavericks today? Looking back at Table One we see that Howard was the least productive player on the Mavericks this season.  So replacing Howard with Butler is an upgrade.  And once again, Haywood is very productive.  Consequently, it’s possible the Mavericks could win about 21 of their final 30 games (this estimate is based upon my guess of how many minutes each player will play down the stretch).  Had the Mavericks stayed the same, this team could have expected to win about 17 more games.  So in terms of the final standings, this move doesn’t really alter the final record dramatically. But that’s because there are only 30 games left.”

Ernie Grunfeld, Washington Wizards Press Release: “Our four new players bring versatility and the experience of playing in a winning situation. Josh and Quinton can each play both the shooting guard and small forward positions while providing athleticism and outside shooting.  Drew can play both the power forward and center positions and he and James give us an inside presence that combines skill and toughness.”

James Singleton, Washington Wizards (via Eddie Sefko): “I’m finally going to get a chance. I think it helps both teams and it’s the best situation for me, really. I spoke to coach Carlisle and I told him he did right by me. I think it will work out good for me and good for both teams.”

LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers (via Brandon George): “[I] love [Caron]. There’s one thing about this league, you can’t substitute toughness. He’s very good everywhere he’s been, in LA, Miami and now Washington. He’s a very, very good player who complements a lot of good players. He was an All-Star last year, and he’s definitely one of those guys you have to key on when you play him.”

Jason Kidd, Dallas Mavericks (via Brandon George): “Caron’s a great player and Haywood, and those guys will definitely help us. The big thing as a whole, we haven’t played well since the new year. Even taking away talking about a trade, us as players, we have to play better and get more wins under our belt…We’re a veteran ball club, so it shouldn’t be as big if we were a younger team and trying to fit in. They just have to come in and do their job, and we have some great guys who will make them feel welcomed and have fun doing it.”

Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks (via Brad Townsend): As a franchise sometimes, you’ve got to make tough decisions. It’s always tough and sad to see teammates leave, especially when you’ve played with them for a long time like we have with Josh. We’ve been through battles with him. So it’s always tough to see guys go, but sometimes a franchise has to move on and make decisions…It’s going to be tough to get everyone together that quick. We’ve got a tough stretch with four games in five nights, but nothing is easy in this league and you’ve got to go out and earn it. Hopefully we’re going to put some basics in Monday, just a couple of plays, tell them our defensive philosophy and go out and play. That’s what good players do, play off each other.”

Michael Lee, The Washington Post: “They surrendered Butler, Haywood and Stevenson in what essentially is a salary dump that provides almost $15 million in cap relief for the 2010-11 season. Ross is the only player the Wizards receive who is signed through next season. The deal would also provide nearly $2.6 million in luxury tax relief this season for the Wizards, who will ship out $19.7 million in salaries while getting back $17.3 million. Coupled with the savings that the Wizards will already receive for suspensions to Arenas and Crittenton, the luxury tax penalty could be reduced by nearly $7 million.”