Look, I don’t want to be tossing these wistful ideas around, and if you’re dawdling around these parts, odds are that you don’t much like reading them. Yet we must depart from the usual realism to discuss one specific rumor, from Marc Stein and Chris Broussard of ESPN.com:
There is also a small handful of teams that has informed the Hornets they are prepared to trade for Paul with no assurance that they can keep him beyond this season. That list, sources say, includes the Rockets, Boston Celtics and defending champion Dallas Mavericks.
Each of those teams would be gambling that Paul would be won over by his new surroundings and either elect to play out the final season of his current contract (valued at $17.8 million in 2012-13) or opt out of his contract on July 1, 2012, and sign a new deal. Paul’s 2011-12 salary is listed at $16.4 million.
How wonderful. Obviously Chris Paul would be an incredible get for the Mavs, but like so many other franchises reportedly vying to obtain him via trade, Dallas is low on assets. Just so we’re all on the same page, let’s run down the slim list of Maverick pieces that would be attractive to a team like the Hornets:
- Dirk Nowitzki – Yeah, that’s happening.
- Rodrigue Beaubois – Although it’s not entirely fair to judge Beaubois on the basis of an injury-plagued sophomore campaign, I think it’s safe to say that the “untradeable” label he once received from Mark Cuban has expired. Beaubois’ stock likely isn’t very high at the moment, but if Paul remains in New Orleans until the trade deadline, it’s possible that a bounce-back year could make him an attractive trade chip. New Orleans will want more than just prospects back in any deal for Paul, and in order for Beaubois to become a prominent piece in a potential deal, he’ll need to capitalize on his considerable potential.
- Dominique Jones – Deep, veteran teams almost inevitably marginalize some young player on the roster or another, and Jones was the unfortunate victim of a team with a glut of talent on the wing. His second year doesn’t seem likely to be a showcase either, as Dallas will retain all of the big-minute players from the team’s playoff run, and try to find room for Beaubois and Rudy Fernandez in the mix. That said, Jones is a physical guard with some interesting skills. He’s a committed defender, albeit one still learning how to function within the context of a proper pro system. He doesn’t have much of a jump shot, but he’s able to finish with contact and has interesting drive-and-kick potential. Jones might be a tough sell without much NBA experience, but he does have long-term potential.
- Corey Brewer – The Mavs have genuine interest in finding a spot in the rotation for Brewer, who was a game-changing force for Dallas in spot minutes last season. Brewer’s energy is palpable and infectious; his ability to hound opposing wings, get out on the break, and slash relentlessly in the half-court offense makes him a nice complementary piece to have in pocket going forward. Brewer isn’t exactly a franchise cornerstone, but he’s certainly an asset.
- Rudy Fernandez – Theoretically, Fernandez is a useful 26-year-old wing. If traded to the Hornets, however, Fernandez would likely finish out the final year of his contract and bolt for Real Madrid upon the season’s conclusion.
- Ian Mahinmi – For some perspective: Dallas was able to sign Mahinmi — a 25-year-old center — to a sub-million dollar salary for two seasons. Mahinmi is useful as a utility big (and could turn out to be Dallas’ back-up center next season), but he’s still far too inconsistent, raw, and foul-prone to be of legitimate intrigue to New Orleans. I’m sure the Hornets wouldn’t mind having Mahinmi, but they surely wouldn’t target him.
- Jason Kidd/Jason Terry/a willingness to take on salary – Dallas has a pair of sizable of expiring contracts to work with in a potential deal, and while neither Kidd nor Terry would make sense for a rebuilding team, they could act as a mechanism for the Hornets to shed salary. New Orleans could be looking to move Emeka Okafor in any deal involving Chris Paul, and Dallas would be able to swap out Okafor’s salary for expiring contracts that would be more to the Hornets’ liking.
- Draft picks – The Mavericks don’t have any draft picks owed to any other team, meaning they have a full arsenal to use for bartering purposes. Those picks aren’t all that valuable, but they could be good enough for a cherry on top of the otherwise satisfying deal that the Mavs will never be able to manufacture with their current assets.
Let those ingredients stew together in any combination you’d like, and the mixture still wouldn’t tasty enough to entice the Hornets into a deal. Everybody ready to move on now?