Mark Cuban spoke on ESPN Dallas Radio 103.3 FM the day after the trade deadline. Of the numerous things he discussed, he mentioned that the Mavericks were close to landing a superstar. “It was crazy,” Cuban said the day after the deadline on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. “We thought we had a bunch of things done, literally a bunch of things done. We had teams get cold feet at the last minute. … Things that would have used cap room next year, would have had money next year, that were high-dollar guys, difference-maker guys.” Many people (sarcastic people) suggested that the players initials were BS (think about it and you’ll get it).
Reports today now suggest Cuban wasn’t fibbing. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported on Friday that the Dallas Mavericks, Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics were on the verge of a blockbuster deal at the trade deadline.
In a three-way deal that would’ve secured Josh Smith and surrendered Paul Pierce to Dallas, Atlanta wanted Boston’s first-round draft pick, too.
The Celtics were in talks to send Paul Pierce to Dallas at the trade deadline.
Dallas had constructed a package that included Jae Crowder, Brandan Wright and Dahntay Jones to Atlanta, with the Mavericks and Hawks exchanging positions in the 2013 NBA draft.
Nevertheless, Boston wouldn’t relent on the pick and the deal died on meeting-room grease boards in three cities.
Well, that’s something, isn’t it? Atlanta would have gotten the pieces they needed for a rebuilding project. Boston would have gotten a new superstar. The pieces on Dallas’ end don’t exactly match up in terms of finances, so other pieces would likely need to be involved in that suggested offer. It likely wouldn’t be pieces of a major consequence. Clearly Dallas and Atlanta were on board, but Boston was the team that put things to a halt. What would acquiring Paul Pierce mean to the Mavericks?
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Today is the day. The trade deadline is finally here. At 2 pm central standard time, the wheeling and dealing will pretty much be over. The Mavericks are in a tough spot as they try to balance their run for the playoffs this year and continue their process of transitioning into the future. With viable trade assets in Shawn Marion, Vince Carter and Chris Kaman, anything is possible. Dallas could be looking for players that can boost their playoff chances this year, they could look to accommodate other teams and acquire nice pieces in return or they could unload everything and work with a relatively clean slate going into the offseason.
The most recent report came from Ken Berger of CBSSports.com suggesting that the Mavericks have made Roddy Beaubois, Dominique Jones and Brandan Wright available for draft picks, according to sources. Some have joked that the Mavericks would be willing to take a third-round draft pick for either Roddy or Jones (there are only two rounds in the NBA draft). Picks are quite valuable in today’s new NBA as rookie-deal players are all the rage. The Mavericks would be interested in obtaining those picks, but they won’t do anything to compromise their cap room.
As the festivities of All-Star weekend faded away, the trade deadline became the top story for the league. Rumors, like the ones mentioned above, always run rampant as the deadline approaches. Owners and general managers are valuable sources of information, but it’s hard to really figure out if they’re giving you information that is worth running with. The best thing to do is just look around the league and get a feel for where each team is at and determine if there is something in terms of a fit for your team. That’s what we’re going to do here. As the trade deadline inches closer and closer, it’s time to look at every team around the league and see if there’s anything that makes sense for the Mavericks.
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Oceans have dried up and mountain ranges have crumbled since the Dallas Mavericks drafted Nick Calathes in 2009, but the team’s specific circumstances — while entirely different — are eerily familiar. The Mavs are still in need of a successor to Jason Kidd (who is almost assuredly gone), could still benefit from a cross-matching playmaker to pair alongside Rodrigue Beaubois or Dominique Jones, and are — as is team custom — very thin in terms of developmental depth. Calathes could oblige in many of those capacities, and for the first time since Dallas drafted him, he’s contractually free to ply his trade stateside. Per Eurohoops.net, that’s precisely what he intends to do:
Nick Calathes’ contract with Panathinaikos ended, he is a free agent and he will try his best in order to get a roster spot in Dallas. That should be the natural evolution for him…Calathes is a 23 years old player, who believes that he learned all he could from European basketball and now feels that it’s the right time for him to try and achieve his childhood dream of playing in the NBA. He will play for the Greek national team at the FIBA Pre-Olympic tournament, but he wants also be present at the Las Vegas summer league and will chase his dream, something that can be done if Greece doesn’t qualify to London.
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The Mavs free agent plans are now completely in focus: the team has no intent to overpay to keep Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler, and J.J. Barea, and all three are likely to sign elsewhere as a result. It’s an unfortunate development given all that the Mavs accomplished last year, but again, I find it hard to fault Mark Cuban for his reluctance to lock up the team’s finances for the next four to five years.
As such, the Mavs currently have just 10 players under contract. Lower-salary free agents like Brian Cardinal, DeShawn Stevenson, and Peja Stojakovic could end up returning to Dallas, but the Mavs would still need a few more pieces if they wished to completely round out their roster. There aren’t many means through which Dallas can pick up free agents at this point; any players courted would need to be candidates for either the taxpayer mid-level exception (a $3 million window that can be used to sign players to deals for up to three years) or the veteran’s minium. With that in mind, here are some of the names that have popped up in connection with the Mavs:
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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:
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The lockout hasn’t even reached its official end, and yet all eyes are fixed on the summer of 2012. Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, and Deron Williams have dominated media outlets with their rumored gravity toward various teams and markets, and though basketball fans are likely queasy already from the trade rumor overload, the hype is legitimate. Those three superstars are hugely impactful players, and while the NBA world would be a better place without the rumor mill’s nonstop churning, to ignore teams’ awareness of next year’s free agent class would be naive. Franchises around the league are working hard to be in a position to take part in the free agent fun, and the Mavs are no exception.
In that vein, Chris Broussard and Marc Stein of ESPN.com dropped a fairly startling report yesterday:
In a surprise development on the first day that NBA teams and agents could start talking about new contracts, Tyson Chandler came away convinced that his time with the Dallas Mavericks is coming to an end.
“I really think I’m going to be on a new team come training camp,” Chandler told ESPN.com in a telephone interview Wednesday night. “I’m really taking a hard look at all of my options, trying to see what best suits me.”
…Chandler maintains that staying in Dallas has always been his first choice, but he expressed disappointment that the communication between the sides was minimal from the end of the NBA Finals in mid-June and the June 30 deadline for extensions. On Wednesday, when teams and agents were allowed to commence free-agent negotiations, NBA front office sources listed New Jersey, Golden State, Houston and Toronto as the teams chasing Chandler hardest.
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The memory of Devin Harris as a Dallas Maverick currently floats between two worlds. It’s not as vivid as a yesterday’s events; Harris’ Maverick tenure is lacking in that fresh, day-old texture. At the same time, his time as a Mav hasn’t been bathed in nostalgia’s glow. His seasons in Dallas were good days, but they weren’t the good ol’ days.
That — among other things — makes the prospect of a Harris return to Dallas a bit strange. Such an acquisition couldn’t rightfully be painted as the return of an old friend any more than it could be a celebration of his return from a business day trip. Harris has been gone long enough to remove him from Mavs fans’ immediate consciousness (the KIDD VS. HARRIS dynamic has completely evaporated), and yet time hasn’t been able to scrub clean their familiarity with his weaknesses as a player.
It’s probably a bit silly to talk about Harris possibly returning to Dallas at all. It’s a bit of a long-shot, to say the least, and can only occur if the following conditions are met:
If the Nuggets successfuly execute a Carmelo Anthony trade,
and if that trade also involves the Nets (most likely as a landing point for Anthony),
and if Devin Harris is part of the trade package (which he doesn’t have to be),
and if Harris is sent to Denver, or a similarly positioned team which has little use for him,
and if the Mavs decide they’re legitimately interested in Harris,
and if they can grab him for a reasonable cost,
then Harris may be a Maverick again.
Certainly improbable, but once those dominoes start falling, who knows where they’ll stop. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Mavs looked to Harris — rather than Stephen Jackson or even Andre Iguodala — as a possible wing scorer, and though the idea of playing Harris alongside another point guard seems odd, it could be crazy enough to work.
Of course, by “to work” I mean “to hedge the loss of Caron Butler’s supplementary scoring.” I’m not sure how much acquiring Harris would really boost Dallas’ stock (and of course, the impact of his possible acquisition would depend heavily on the cost), but he could score efficiently at the least (he’s still one of the better foul-drawing point guards in the league), and I’m convinced he could share the court with Jason Kidd in certain situations.
I’ll reserve a more detailed analysis for a later date in an alternate universe when, if, and only when/if the Mavs actually acquire Harris, but here’s my initial thinking on the subject of him meshing with Dallas’ current backcourt.
Harris has played alongside Jason Terry before, and the two proved to be an effective offensive and defensive duo. JET wasn’t exactly a plus defender in those days (not that he’s much more than passable now), but Harris’ solid on-ball defense against quicker perimeter threats allowed Terry to defend the lesser of an opponent’s evils.It worked, at least well enough to propel the Mavs to the Finals in 2006 and to the league’s best record in 2007.
Seeing how Harris might work with Kidd would be the more interesting facet of a potential integration process. Harris is accustomed to running an offense and needs the ball in his hands. He has a decent mid-range game, but he doesn’t work all that well to get open (or at least to get open and into scoring position) without the ball, and isn’t much of a catch-and-shoot player. For a minute, it seemed as though his three-point shooting might come around, but Harris has never been a legitimate threat from beyond the arc, and this season he’s shooting just 30.8% from distance. He’s no proxy for Terry or Rodrigue Beaubois, but he’s also not the passer that Kidd is. That makes Harris a poor fit for some fantasy Dallas starting lineup, as letting him run the offense would negate Kidd’s playmaking, but playing him off the ball would make him an inefficient jump-shooter.
There is another intriguing possibility, though: what if Harris’ use as “a wing scorer” put the ball in his hands during most of his time on the court, and enabled him to run the second unit in lieu of J.J. Barea? The Mavs have hopes that Beaubois will grow more comfortable as a point guard sooner rather than later, but Barea is the initiator off the bench until that responsibility is ripped from his hands. Harris is talented and productive enough to do so instantly should he actually become a Mav. Dallas has struggled to score without Dirk Nowitzki on the floor, and the moments when Terry or Caron Butler acted as only productive on-court scorer acted as a breeding ground for opponents’ momentum. The Mavs may be a deep team, but only in the sense that they have many players which can achieve similar ends. Anchoring an offense is not one of those ends. The Lakers have Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, and the Spurs have the Manu Ginobili-Tony Parker-Tim Duncan triumvirate. Dallas doesn’t have a scorer that can run the show when Nowitzki is out of the game, but Harris could potentially take on that responsibility. He’s not an all-world scorer, but Harris’ stop-and-go drives provide him with a consistent avenue for efficient scoring.
I don’t think Harris would be crazy about coming off the bench, but a role behind Ki — I’m going to pause for a minute. It’s amazing just how much ado can come from nothing. Devin Harris isn’t a Maverick, and odds are that he’ll never be one again.
If there’s a point to any of this aside from indulging whimsy, it’s to open up your mind. Harris is a point guard. Kidd is a point guard. Yet they’re still very different players who could succeed in very different situations. The Mavs lost Caron Butler, but their means for improving shouldn’t be limited to those of similar body types to Caron or even similar skill sets. If Donnie Nelson, Rick Carlisle, and Mark Cuban deem Iguodala or Jackson the most suitable replacement available, then power to them. But it would be foolish to disregard Harris on the grounds of position or stature alone, and if trading for him provides the best path toward improvement, the Mavs would be wise to at least trot down it to take a peak around the bend.
Caron Butler’s season has been itchy and uncomfortable. Before missing the last two games with a troublesome back, Butler was shooting plenty, but accomplishing little. His problem isn’t inconsistency, but a far more worrisome inefficiency; Butler still fancies himself a premier offensive talent, but his shooting percentages are more emblematic of a reserve chucker. Flip Murray would tell Butler to take it down a notch. Corey Brewer would scoff at Caron’s stat lines.
Butler is still putting up a few points for the Mavs (he’s averaging 14.7 per game this season), but doing so while shooting 39.1% from the field isn’t exactly kosher. There’s no question that Butler’s offensive performance thus far has been unacceptable, and if the current trends — both in Caron’s inefficiency and his insistence to play a central offensive role — continue, serious changes will need to be made. I’ve never been sold on Butler as a clear-cut starter over Shawn Marion to begin with, both of their egos be damned. Rick Carlisle has shown that he’s not afraid to make rotation changes based on his own sense of direction, and if his compass points toward Marion even slightly, he shouldn’t hesitate to mix up the lineups. Starting jobs are an inanely sensitive thing in the NBA, but Caron’s feelings are removed from the foreground if he ceases to produce at a level worthy of his starting distinction.
Butler needs to bounce back in a big way. His starting job depends on it. And, in a sense, his future as a Maverick depends on it.
As ESPN.com’s Marc Stein indicated in the Weekend Dime, Butler isn’t exactly rooted in Dallas. The Mavs’ desire to ship up their offense combined with Butler’s imminently dealable expiring contract make for an interesting combination, and if an attractive deal comes along at any point before the trade deadline, I think it’s a safe bet to assume that Butler will be dangled on the line, sweetened with DeShawn Stevenson’s expiring deal and the promise of a few draft picks. Tyson Chandler was once in the same boat, but in eight games, he’s made himself invaluable. At this point, Butler isn’t even all that valuable. He’s been below average even from a scoring standpoint, and has legitimately hurt the Mavs in his minutes on the floor. Dallas would be crazy to deal Chandler, but if they managed to trade Butler for a useful player? That’s just good business.
It would be ridiculous to wrap Butler’s year in just six games. He still has plenty of time to salvage his shooting marks, his usage rate, and his performance in general. Butler can still make sense of his role in the Mavs’ system, and use his talents toward more positive ends. That change just needs to come sooner rather than later, lest Butler’s itchy performance demands to be scratched.
As the Mavs search for another forward to back up Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Thomas looks for a home to resume his NBA career, it’s only natural that their paths should meet. Bringing Thomas back to the Mavs next season actually makes a lot of sense, and considering the limited alternatives at power forward left in free agency, Thomas may prove to be the smart, safe selection. Imagine that.
It seems like a lifetime ago, but Thomas was actually a productive member of the Mavs’ rotation before taking a leave of absence to stay with his ailing wife. Thomas started the year in terrific fashion, but fell back to Earth a bit over the course of the season. Still, he was a solid three-point shooter for the Mavs in 18 games, shooting .372 from deep on 43 attempts. He showed patience and discretion, and was a slightly more efficient offensive player than his overall career marks show. He scored well, defended adequately, and filled in minutes for the Mavs at both the 3 and the 4. He hit a game-tying three to force overtime (though that shot was easily overshadowed by the Mavs’ loss in OT and the teeth in Dirk Nowitzki’s elbow), played to his strengths, and did what was asked of him. That’s not the kind of portfolio that’s going to secure Thomas a huge paycheck for the coming season, but it looks like it could be enough for him to reprise his role in Dallas.
The Mavs have a chance to bring Thomas back to do it all over again, and provided he’s available for the veteran’s minimum, it seems like the right move. There are no superstars, All-Stars, quasi-stars, former stars, or even distant stars left to acquire. There are only role players, and while Dallas could certainly use more help than just Thomas, they’ll have to make do.
Chris Paul is brilliant enough as a player that teams have to indulge his whimsy. He’s the top point guard in the game — no, that is not up for debate — and depending on how you slice it, either a top-three or top-five player overall. He’s not the kind of player you dismiss out of hand. He’s the kind of player you send fruit baskets to, and offer a shoe polish if he ever steps through the door. His game absolutely, positively demands your attention, and there’s no use arguing around that.
Still, there’s no point in playing the trade game until the rumors start to get a little more serious. Yes, Chris Paul has the Dallas Mavericks listed among the teams he’d prefer to be traded to, and that matters. Still, the Hornets, if they even decide to trade Paul at all, can ship their star point guard wherever they’d like. They can shop him around to every team in the league in search of the most attractive return package, and say “To hell with him and his list.” It’s certainly relevant that Paul wants to be traded in the first place, because it’s likely in the Hornets’ best interest to cash out now if they’re unable to pacify him. However, it matters less and less where he’d like to end up, because if New Orleans does make the move, they’re going to do so on their terms.
If the Hornets insist on receiving young talent in return for Paul (which only seems logical), the Mavs’ chances are dead in the water. With all due respect to Dominique Jones, Rodrigue Beaubois is the only young asset on the roster worth having, and he just so happens to be a positional duplicate to either Darren Collison or Marcus Thornton. That should be enough to cut down any possible intrigue Rodrigue may have held for New Orleans. Plus, even if Beaubois were enticing to the Hornets, a deal of this magnitude would take more than one young, talented player. New Orleans won’t ever get equal value for Chris Paul via trade, but they’re also not going to entertain a low-ball offer centered around just one young asset.
However, if New Orleans is instead focused on clearing cap to start again, the Mavs are in business. Dallas has $29 million in expiring contracts to play around with, and a Paul-less Hornets team will have a few expensive contracts to dispose of. If Tyson Chandler’s expiring deal were to be involved, a trade couldn’t officially go through until September 13th due to trade restrictions on recently acquired players. If not, the Mavs may have trouble putting together an attractive enough deal to steal the Hornets’ glance.
The most palatable offer from Dallas would likely be Tyson Chandler’s expiring contract, Caron Butler’s expiring contract, DeShawn Stevenson’s expiring contract, Rodrigue Beaubois, two first rounders, and a trade exception for Chris Paul, Emeka Okafor, and James Posey. Okafor and Posey are the two contracts that are likely to be moved along with Paul, as their departure (Okafor is owed $52 million over the next four seasons while Posey is owed $13.4 million over the next two) would help to facilitate the franchise reboot incited by Paul’s trade demand.
I have a hard time believing that such an offer would be competitive with the types of deals that will be thrown against the wall. Almost every team in the league will be after Paul, and while few teams can compete with the long-term savings the Mavs can offer, Dallas is likely still a few good, young players short of making a deal work.
Everything rests with the Hornets. Before it’s even worth it to fully analyze the Mavs’ trade potential, we need to know that New Orleans is seriously entertaining the option of moving Paul. Right now we don’t. So table your trade machine wizardry until things get a tad more serious, but with the tiniest bit of focus on what it could mean for Dallas to add one of the top talents the NBA has to offer.