Rumor Mongering: When Life Gives You a $13 Million Instantly Expiring Contract…

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 28, 2010 under Rumors | 7 Comments to Read

The weeks leading up to free agency predictably became a breeding ground for all kinds of rumors, most of which were no more than baseless speculation. Finally though, we have one Mavs-related rumor that passes the smell test, courtesy of Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski:

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban will pursue a sign-and-trade to lure Atlanta Hawks free agent Joe Johnson, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. The Mavericks are unlikely to engage the Cleveland Cavaliers into a sign-and-trade for LeBron James, but Johnson has emerged as a realistic target for the Mavericks. Johnson, is more likely to embrace a sign-and-trade to the contending Mavs than sign a free-agent contract with New York or Chicago, sources said. “New York is far from his first option,” one source with knowledge of Johnson’s thinking said.

Joe Johnson has been the most realistic free agent target for the Mavs all along; landing LeBron would be the longest of long shots, and neither Dwyane Wade nor Chris Bosh seem willing to even give Dallas a proper look. Johnson isn’t the answer, but he is an answer, which counts for something. It’s essential that Dallas cashes in on Erick Dampier’s value at some point this summer, and assuming they strike out on the bigger names as is expected, Johnson is a suitable replacement.

He’s not going to solve all of the Mavs’ problems; Joe is still, in his heart of hearts, a jumpshooter, and one who has grown accustomed to having the ball in his hands frequently, at that. Still, he can create his own shot and play some decent defense, which puts him a peg above Jason Terry on the shooting guard depth chart. Also, assuming the Mavs could hold on to their other rotation contributors, JJ would make Dallas incredibly deep. Supposing the Mavs start Kidd, Johnson, Marion, Nowitzki, and Haywood, not only would they have an excellent blend of offense/defense, but they would also have the luxury of bringing Jason Terry, Caron Butler, and Rodrigue Beaubois off the bench. That may not give Dallas the kind of size to counter the Lakers, but it could give them an eight-man rotation unparalleled in the Western Conference.

Then again, Butler could conceivably be part of the deal as well. That would still be something of a boon for the Mavs. Even though Caron is a solid player, Johnson’s talents and skill set seem a bit more in tune with the rest of the Mavs’ offense, and from a positional standpoint, he’s more of a natural fit.

Admittedly, this trade’s completion regardless of who is involved is a big assumption. The Hawks would have to be convinced that Johnson was on his way out, and agree to a trade centered around Erick Dampier’s contract and draft picks. Then, Joe would need to pick the Mavs over all of his other free agent suitors (name a team with cap space, and they’re probably at least a little interested), which is hardly a given. The sign-and-trade isn’t an impossibility, but also keep in mind that Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban would be dealing with one of the most disorganized and uncoordinated franchises in basketball. Too often, the Hawks’ ownership and management make even the most routine signings and re-signings seem immensely difficult, and I wouldn’t disregard that precedent with such a substantial trade. Securing a sign-and-trade is always a difficult proposition, but securing one with that front office? Good luck.

  • John

    God, you don’t think our FO would be stupid enough to deal Roddy in a S&T for JJ do you?

  • Kirk Henderson

    If we sign JJ, then we’d only have 2 rotation players (Roddy and Jose Juan) under 30. The smell of success!

  • Kevin

    If we trade Roddy for Johnson and give him a 6 year deal this team will be put in a hole it’ll take a while to get out of. Cuban must be losing 30-40 million per season and with this deal and I assume Dirk would get a 4 year max or near max deal as well we’d be stuck in this slow fade for the next 5 years while spending most of it well over the luxury tax. Also, the bigs still wouldn’t be nearly good enough defensively to win a title. In my opinion the biggest failing of Mark Cuban during the Nowitzki era was never finding him another great big to play alongside. It just feels like Cuban mortgages a little more of the future every year to try to keep this run together. In 2008 the Harris/Kidd trade, in 2009 the awful Marion contract (he makes over 9 million in the 13/14 season), and this summer it looks like Dallas will pay Joe Johnson 30 million when he’s 35 and was probably never a max guy at his peak, plus whatever bad contract we give Haywood.

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  • Cynthia

    Kevin. I wouldn’t put Joe Johnson is a Mavericks uniform just yet. After all, these are just RUMORS. And we are going to see many more of those before July 1st. And most of those will be just crap. So I wouldn’t worry about Cuban “morgaging the future” just yet.

  • shayseph

    I would much rather like to see Damp’s contract turned into Al Jefferson from Minnesota, straight up if at all possible. Minnesota’s got Kevin Love who they prefer, Jefferson didn’t look the same last year after his knee surgery (usually takes two years to recover fully), he recently got busted for a DUI, etc. They’d get straight cap relief. Might just be enough for Minnesota to get rid of him. If so, he’s a 25 yr old C/PF with one of the most reliable post games in the NBA. He’d be a great help now and could hold down the future of the franchise with Roddy. Sounds way better than an aging, overrated SG.

  • mavsman1963

    What is this fascination with Roddy B? He’s actually a disappointment so far. We drafted him as a point, but I sure haven’t been seeing him distribute the ball much. He’s just a smallish off guard.(dime a dozen)