Heard It Through the Grapevine 2-24-09

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 24, 2009 under xOther | Read the First Comment

  • A wild, wild night in the lig.  Devin Harris hit what many are calling “the shot of the year,” and I don’t think I can disagree.  Nate Robinson scored 41 points off the bench, made a game-clinching layup, and has my head spinning.  Carlos Boozer returned for the Jazz, and scored 2 points (technically he didn’t make a basket; it was a Josh Smith goaltend) to go with 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 turnovers.  Tyson Chandler returned for the Hornets, and notched 15 points and 10 rebounds (albeit along with 5 turnovers).  The Nuggets were absolutely punked by the Celtics sans Kevin Garnett.  Wacky.
  • Jerry Stackhouse is down already…just as I was planning to publish a “What Should We Really Expect From Stack?” post.  Oh, bother.  I wasn’t terribly optimistic about his potential to return to his former self, and maybe these type of delays are a blessing in disguise to help us temper our expectations.  Or maybe we’re just delaying the inevitable, and Stack’s eventual return will be accompanied by his blinders-on offensive mentality, only without the usual production.  Fun.  I’m hoping that Carlisle keeps his cool and does the same thing he’s done all season: refuse to accept the ‘given.’  It was given that Stack was going to be a contributor on this team, but he has to prove himself just as every other player on the roster did.  He didn’t seem all that pleased with Stack’s play early in the season, and one can only hope that he makes stack earn his way into the game rather than handing it to him.
  • Jake of Mavs Moneyball compares the Mavs’ defense to the Spurs’.  For most of the season, the Mavs matched up more favorably than you’d think.  Part of that can be attributed to the fact that the Spurs defense isn’t quite what it once was.  It does show that the Mavs have been subtly improving on that end since their midseason meltdown, but Jake is certainly right in assessing that the D doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt.
  • David Moore, with a friendly reminder on the DMN Mavs Blog: The trend extends even further. The Mavericks are 4-13 on the road against the best in the West since Jason Kidd’s arrival last February.
  • Tom Ziller warns you to “discount the Jazz at your own peril.”
  • Moore’s article for the Dallas Morning News continues with the same basic message, but goes further.  Could the loss to the Rockets actually prove to be a stepping stone for Dallas’ road success to come?:”‘The formula has got to be there. You’ve got to play consistently on defense and rebound. Offensively, you’ve got to be efficient and you’ve got to score enough points.’ [Carlisle said.] That’s the problem. The Mavericks haven’t been consistent on defense on the road. Their offense has been sporadic. Their bench has been erratic. But there are signs of improvement, such as Friday’s 93-86 loss in Houston. ‘Well, look at that game,’ Kidd said. ‘We put ourselves in position coming down the stretch, but didn’t execute and turned the ball over…It’s there. We’re right there. It’s a matter of staying with it.’”

Rumor Mongering: Richard Jefferson, Anybody?

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 23, 2009 under Rumors | 6 Comments to Read

The trade deadline is over — aren’t these things supposed to stop?  Apparently not, because now we’re looking ahead to this summer and beyond.  From John Hollinger:

Even then they aren’t assured of being under the tax, especially since teams with cap space know money is tight in Milwaukee, and thus will come after their restricted free agents hard. That’s why trading [Richard] Jefferson seemed so palatable for the Bucks; from here on out it’s going to be much harder to put together deals that get them under the tax without great pain. One possibility to file away in your back pocket: They could trade Jefferson to Dallas for Jerry Stackhouse (only partially guaranteed at $2 million), Antoine Wright and Jose Juan Barea; replacing the latter two players with Matt Carroll would also work.

The small forward/shooting guard distinction is dubious at best, so the fact that Josh Howard and Richard Jefferson are natural small forwards probably doesn’t make that much of a difference.  He’s 28 and has plenty of money coming his way, but he might actually be a good prototype for what the Mavs want from their starting shooting guard: a solid wing defender, a good finisher, a decent jumpshooter, and aside from ripping the city of Milwaukee (who hasn’t?), a guy who quietly goes about his business and goes to work.  The fact that he’s played (and thrived) with Kidd in the past is the cherry on top.

Of course, whether or not you’re interested in Jefferson likely has to do with how you diagnose the Mavs.  If you think the biggest hole on the roster is shooting guard, logic would put you in favor of Richardson, who can either fill that role himself or slide Josh Howard into that position.  If you think the biggets hole is at center, this trade probably doesn’t do anything for you.  It’s tough to gauge exactly what Stack’s value this summer will be as of this point, but I’m putting it out there: I wouldn’t mind having Richard Jefferson on the roster one bit.

Heard It Through the Grapevine 2-20-09

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 20, 2009 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

  • The trade deadline came and went without any intrigue in Mavericks Land.  Considering the options available, I’m not all that disappointed.  It’s fun to ponder what’s going to become of your team’s newest trade acquisition, but I’ve got my own reasons for being optimistic.
  • Mentioned in my earlier post, but in case you didn’t see it: Amar’e Stoudemire will miss a minimum of eight weeks after he had successful eye surgery this morning.  Here’s to wishing for a speedy, successful recover for Amar’e; eye injuries are almost unspeakable in my mind.  I’m cringing just thinking about it.
  • On top of that, Manu Ginobili will miss 2-3 weeks with a bum ankle.
  • Who are the biggest ‘black holes’ in the NBA?  One statistical analysis includes Gerald Green and Josh Howard among the most infamous vacuums. (H/T Matt Moore)
  • There’s nothing wrong with building up your long-term plans with a little short-term optimism, right?  Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News briefly outlines the Maverick mindset: “The long-term goals are clear. The Mavericks are determined to save every penny they can on the 2009-10 payroll so that they can make a run at one or more of the free agents that summer. In the meantime, the Mavericks have won seven of nine and are positioned well to make a run at the No. 4 playoff seed in the final two months.”
  • It looks like we’ll be seeing Jerry Stackhouse sooner rather than later.  Stack will make the road trip, and might even get some burn tonight.
  • DallasBasketball.com’s David Lord is a bit disenchanted with the usual lip service: “After the deadline passed, Donnie Nelson gave out the typical non-move mantra: “‘We like our boys in blue, and we’re going to war with ‘em.’ My reaction? As a fan hoping for packages to unwrap on Christmas morn, kinda threw up in my mouth when I heard it. For a fan, it’s trite. Predictable. Unsatisfying. While we understand their need to pat the existing roster on the head here and there and claim ‘Golly gee oh wow they are our favorite players in the whole wide world!’ … I wouldn’t mind a more frank exchange between management and fans in which we all admit, ‘We know this team isn’t as good as we want it to be, we hope you know it, too, and we all are in this together to make it better.’”
  • Just in case you need a reminder, Dirk is really good at basketball.  There’s some generalizing in there and a bit of overstatement (I wouldn’t be so sure Dirk is a top 5 player), but it’s nice to have a reminder of just how spoiled we are by Nowitzki.
  • Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Typically that should tell you to bring your appropriate grain of salt, but Galloway, barring some usual light provocation, is more tolerable than usual.): “Doing nothing at the trading deadline, I guess, could be called another stubborn, defiant and stupid decision by owner Mark Cuban in an attempt to justify his failed meddling. Normally, I would gleefully support all three theories — stubborn, defiant and basketball stupid — when it comes to Cuban. But … nada. Not this time. I even agree with Cuban. Which scares me.”

Rumor Mongering: Slovenians and Trade Kickers

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 18, 2009 under Rumors | 2 Comments to Read

Marc Stein of ESPN.com:

The Mavericks have been offering Jerry Stackhouse’s virtual expiring contract ($7 million this season, only $2 million guaranteed next season) and Brandon Bass ($826,000) to the Kings since this past summer, when Sacramento was shopping Ron Artest. The biggest obstacle for Dallas on a Salmons deal has been the Kings’ insistence that the Mavericks — lacking draft picks to sweeten the deal — also take back guard Beno Udrih, who has four years and nearly $27 million remaining on his contract after this season.

There is another complication for interested parties: Sources revealed Tuesday that Salmons has a 15 percent trade kicker in his contract that would require the team that acquires him to pay him a bonus of nearly $2 million and add that figure to its payroll. Salmons otherwise would rank as one of the league’s better bargains, earning just $5.1 million this season while averaging 18.3 points and shooting 47.2 percent from the field and 41.8 percent on 3-pointers.

Beno Udrih sucks.  Been there, talked about that.  But would this $2 million trade kicker influence a potential trade with the Mavs?  I’d doubt it.  Cuban has said he’s willing to spend to make things happen, and though the luxury tax implications make things a bit painful with the kicker (it’s effectively doubled, with $2 million going to Salmons and $2 million going to the league to be dispersed among the teams under the tax), I doubt it would deter Cuban from making an impact deal.

Rumor Mongering: Marc Stein H8s Trade Rumors

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 16, 2009 under Rumors | Read the First Comment

Or at least you’d think so.  Stein tackled a few of the more popular Mavs rumors out there, hopefully stopping any momentum on some of the more underwhelming offers floating around the mainstream media:

There are a couple GMs out there who believe that the Trail Blazers will enter (or have entered) the Vince bidding. Dallas, by contrast, continues to say that it won’t.

The Nets would want Josh Howard in such a deal and the Mavs, according to club sources, have no intention of making Howard available for a Carter swap.

Dallas insists that it’s interested in Carter only if the most valuable trade chip it surrenders is Jerry Stackhouse’s virtual expiring contract (which has only $2 million guaranteed in 2009-10). As covered in Thursday night’s Daily Dime, one Mavs source went so far as to claim that the Nets would have to include rookie center Brook Lopez to change that stance, which obviously isn’t happening.

The Mavs believe that the recent arrival of Darrell Armstrong as an assistant coach — after Armstrong’s influence was badly missed in the locker room in the final, fateful days of Avery Johnson’s run as Mavs coach — gives Howard a confidante on the staff who can help keep him engaged after a rough year-plus for the former All-Star.

The swingman Dallas has actually been chasing, sources say, is Sacramento’s Salmons, but the Kings want the Mavs to take back Beno Udrih as well since they don’t have a first-round pick to sweeten the deal. But Udrih won’t be Dallas-bound with three years and nearly $20 million left on his contract after this season.

I like the Mavs’ hard stance on Vince Carter.  Howard would seem a steep price to nab a scorer poised to decline in production and increase in salary.  But you already knew that.

I’m also pretty excited that the team isn’t high on Beno Udrih.  I’m not sure how anybody could be at this point.  I wouldn’t mind adding Salmons to the squad — his slightly above average production warrants his midlevel contract.  Udrih is definitely a deal-breaker for me, though.

Stein’s trade frenzy also brings up a point that hasn’t been discussed here in any length, and that’s the impact of trades on the rest of the West.  Terry Porter’s firing in Phoenix would definitely seem to help the Mavs (and the rest of the West hoping to stay in the hunt for the playoffs or homecourt advantage), and a major trade for Phoenix, New Orleans, San Antonio, or Portland could significantly alter the playoff picture.  There’s no point in digging through the rumors for all of those teams, but we’ll talk if anything seems imminent.

Rumor Mongering: I Think I’ll Pass

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 13, 2009 under Rumors | Be the First to Comment

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski continues to stir the pot on the Vince Carter-to-Dallas rumors:

The proposed deal, which isn’t imminent, would send Carter, Keyon Dooling and Eduardo Najera to the Mavericks for Josh Howard and Jerry Stackhouse…The Mavericks have lost guard Jason Terry to a broken hand and desperately need perimeter scoring to stay a contender in the Western Conference. The Nets’ and Mavericks’ front offices engineered the Jason Kidd-Devin Harris blockbuster at the trade deadline a year ago. Nets GM Kiki Vandeweghe and Mavs GM Donnie Nelson have been active trading proposals, league sources say.

So the lukewarm interest in Carter is quelled by the involvement of Josh Howard (which creates an equally problematic hole at the 3), the inclusion of non-factor Keyon Doolong, and Eddie Najera’s contract.  For all of our sakes, Donnie and Cuban, please don’t pull the trigger on this one.  Carter’s a decent offensive upgrade over Josh, but he nukes our cap strategy, doesn’t launch us into contention, and necessarily makes the Mavs start from scratch when they finally decide to rebuild.

Rumor Mongering: Half-Man, Half-Ridiculous Trade Buzz

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 10, 2009 under Rumors | 8 Comments to Read

From NorthJersey.com via the DMN Mavs blog:

After tonight, the All-Star break begins for the Nets. They resume their schedule next week at Houston and Dallas in advance of the Feb. 19 trade deadline. The three Texas teams are among those interested in Carter, according to league sources….The Mavericks’ interest is compelling because Jason Kidd is in Dallas and asked to be traded last year in part because of Carter. Jerry Stackhouse likely would be involved.

Initial reaction: kthnxno.  But what if there was a way for the Mavs to get Carter without giving up Howard?  It’s almost impossible to pull off without giving up a key cog of the team, so a three-way trade would have to be the way to go.  Carter would unquestionably be an upgrade at shooting guard and has experience playing with Kidd.  On the flip side, he’s never been a very good defender, and he’s on the wrong side of 30 (32, in fact), and his contract has big money going into 2010 ($17.5 mil in 2010-2011 and a partially-guaranteed big money year after).  So I’d probably vote “no” on that deal, too.  Any Carter fans out there?  Hello?  Anybody?  Bueller?

Heard It Through the Grapevine 2-6-09

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 6, 2009 under xOther | 6 Comments to Read

  • Today’s a pretty depressing day.  Especially for Jason Terry, who’s inevitably going to see plenty of this.
  • Jerry Stackhouse may not be as far out the door as we previously thought.  Or maybe Rick Carlisle is just giving Stack lip service while Donnie Nelson finds a trade partner.  Personally, I’m hoping for the latter.  I’ll talk more about Stack’s situation with the Mavs next week, but for now dissect this article by David Moore of The Dallas Morning News: “The reversal stems from a conversation Stackhouse had with Rick Carlisle last week. The Mavericks coach told Stackhouse once he is healthy, he will be given the opportunity to reclaim a consistent role in the rotation. ‘It changed my whole mind-set of what I was thinking,’ Stackhouse said. ‘I just wasn’t comfortable with what was being said early on about using me in certain matchups and certain games. As a competitor, I just wasn’t ready to accept that’ “
  • From Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie: “And Dallas, a team that has a tendency to fold once it gets hit in the mouth, folded after it got hit in the mouth.”  It’s one of those things that you desperately want to disagree with, but how do you argue after last night?
  • Jason Kidd is not John Stockton.  Just in case you were curious.  Still, it is pretty interesting to note that Stockton wanted no part of the offensive play calling, the responsibility that (before yesterday, at least) had seemed to breathe life into Jason Kidd and the whole Mavs team.
  • Eddie Sefko has an article that may or may not still be valid concerning the Mavs’ trade front.  If the Mavs manage to turn it on again in the next few, it could deter the Dallas brass from pulling the trigger on anything serious.
  • On that note, the Mavs did make a transaction of sorts last night.  Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com reports: “The Mavs have completed a trade. They just swapped Jekyll and are acquiring Hyde. And then they shipped ‘em back for each other. First one-team trade ever. Over and over and over.”
  • Last night’s game against the Jazz wasn’t ALL bad, right?  There has to be something positive to take away from this one.  Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News may have stumbled upon it: “And if you’re looking for more silver linings, Dirk Nowitzki got through a whole game at Utah without getting ejected or having the threat of a suspension for the next game hanging over his head.”

Rumor Mongering: …This Has to Be a Joke

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 4, 2009 under Rumors | 2 Comments to Read

From Sam Amick if the Sacramento Bee:

[Beno] Udrih may be on his way out as well, as Dallas is believed to have inquired about him as a possible backup for Jason Kidd with the pieces coming to Sacramento likely including Jerry Stackhouse (this season and next for a combined $14.3 million).

Yuck.  Absolutely disgusting.  Stack is one of the Mavs’ most valuable trade chips, and if you ask me, Beno Udrih is actually worse than J.J. Barea, who currently mans the backup gig.  Tom Ziller sums Udrih up nicely: “…for every good Beno performance he offers two bad nights.”  Oh, and let’s not forget that Udrih has a ridiculous contract as the recipient of the full midlevel exception (he’s due over $32 million and his deal ends in 2013).  One of the motivations for shipping out Diop was to get out from under the weight of his contract.  What’s the significance of that if Dallas is going to trade what basically amounts to an expiring deal to Sacramento for an equally bad deal for a player who clearly is not a starting caliber point guard?  I’m hoping the inquiries Amick describes are nothing more than that, because after watching Beno play this season I think I’d rather him not wear Maverick blue, especially if it means parting with Stack.

Rumor Mongering: Dallas Gets Trade Crazy

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 27, 2009 under Rumors | 8 Comments to Read

Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning New wrote a piece outlining which of the Mavs’ assets are the most tradable, and also gives a pretty hefty list of potential targets that could be on Dallas’ radar.  Pure speculation?  Maybe.  But Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com thinks there’s more to it, and that there may be some legitimate team sentiment behind the rumors.

Dallas needs to do something.  Rotation shake-ups and motivational speeches have gone just about as far as they can go.  The team has some appealing assets and they have plenty of needs.  There are really two questions though.  First, can the Mavs even get the “right deal” done?  And second, does the “right deal” do enough to get the Mavs out of the first round of the playoffs?  The fan in me says yes, but the realist in me says no.  To say it’s an uphill battle is underselling it.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with it, right?  So without further ado, a breakdown of each of Sefko’s proposed trades:

Jerry Stackhouse and Erick Dampier to Sacramento for Brad Miller and Kenny Thomas.

Why it works: The trade turns Stack’s contract into a player that’s immediately useful in Brad Miller, and Dallas doesn’t sacrifice 2010 cap flexibility.  Miller finally gives Mavs fans the scoring from the center position that they’ve always pined for, and he’s a much better passer than Dampier.  When Miller is focused, his ability to facilitate the offense can really open things up for the fringe contributors on the team.  Kenny Thomas also gives the Mavs another look at the second string power forward (or third string, whatever), and he’s not as bad as you probably think he is.  The Kings aren’t playing him, but Thomas hasn’t been all that bad in his few appearances for Sacramento this season, and could be able to contribute to a playoff team.

Why it doesn’t: Brad Miller just so happens to occupy the same offensive space as Dirk, meaning that someone is going to be out of their comfort zone on almost every play.  Miller also happens to be an inferior post defender, shot-blocker, and rebounder to Dampier.  Granted that Miller is in fact a more gifted scorer than Damp, he also relies on a higher usage rate that could require taking touches away from Dirk, Josh, and JET in order to accomodate Miller’s usual production.  Is that worth it?  Probably not.  You might be able to argue that this trade slightly favors Dallas, but even so it would be a marginal upgrade at best.

Jerry Stackhouse and Brandon Bass to Golden State for Stephen Jackson.

Why it works: This one is definitely the most interesting to me.  The 2 guard has been a problem all season, and Antoine Wright/Gerald Green/Dwane Casey’s kid probably aren’t the answer.  Wright’s passable some nights and unspectacularly awful others, and Green ranges from smile-worthy offensive explosion to migraine-inducing “rookie mistake” factory.  Jax would give the Mavs a great defender, a vocal leader, and a player who can drive, shoot, and set up his teammates.  Plus, this trade would give Dallas a quality wing player without giving up Josh Howard.

Why it doesn’t: The bench would be a disaster.  Who plays power forward?  James Singleton?  Ryan Hollins?  Shawne Williams?  It wouldn’t be pretty on the backlines, and Dallas would be hit hard in the low post and on the boards.  Or, I guess Carlisle could just play Dirk for 43 minutes a night.  That would work really well.  But the trouble doesn’t stop there; Stephen Jackson signed what is actually a pretty reasonable three-year, $28 million extension this season.  The wittle bitty problem with that is the fact that Jackson is nearly 31 right now, and at the end of his deal (2012-2013), he would be 35 years old.  Who knows how productive he’ll be by that time, and it could be a nightmare to move an aging wing scorer if things don’t work out.

Photo from Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images via ESPN.

Jerry Stackhouse and Brandon Bass to Chicago for Andres Nocioni.

Why it works: Noc gives the Mavs another weapon off the bench, or possibly a small forward to start alongside Howard.  He can stretch the floor, he’s a physical player, and would add firepower to a team that has trouble scoring at times.

Why it doesn’t: Nocioni’s contract is entirely too long, stretching to 2012-2013 (although that last year is a team option).  Some might call him an “irritant,” but I merely cite him as the primary example under the dictionary definition of “fake hustle.”  He’s almost constantly overaggressive both in terms of shot attempts and fouls, and while he is a physical defender he isn’t that great at D in general.  Trading Bass would open up a huge hole at the 4 (see above), and while Chicago may play Noc at the 4 for stretches, Dallas should have no business doing that.  He’s 6’7”, 201, and just tends to push people in the back.  Not exactly a dream come true.  Plus, his better offensive days look more like an exception than a rule at this point.

Jerry Stackhouse and Brandon Bass to Minnesota for Mike Miller.

Why it works: Mike Miller is a great player on the down year of all down years, somehow appearing to be one of the worst players in the Wolves’ regular rotation.  And that’s saying something.  I’d find it hard to believe that the Real Mike Miller isn’t buried beneath layer upon layer of Minnesota-induced psychosis, and the Mavs would hope to save Miller from himself.  When he’s rolling, he’s creating for his teammates, getting to the hoop, and one of the deadliest shooters in the game.  When he’s not, well, just look at his stats on the season.  Not too pretty.

Why it doesn’t: This trade doesn’t really seem like a possibility.  All indications point to Minny demanding back more compensation that just Bass and an expiring deal, and I’m sure they have their eyes on draft picks around the league.  Beyond that, Miller only makes the Mavs better at doing what they already do: shooting.  He would fix the starting shooting guard problem but open up the power forward Pandora’s Box, which could actually end up being a wash.  On top of that, there’s no guarantee that Miller won’t continue his reign as the Archduke of the Royal Principality of EPIC FAIL.

Jerry Stackhouse and Erick Dampier to Toronto for Jermaine O’Neal.

Why it works: It really, really doesn’t.

Why it doesn’t: Probably the worst deal on the list.  Turn our prized expiring deal and a healthy starting center into a possibly-more-talented-but-definitely-more-washed-up, oft-injured center.  Where do I sign up?

Brandon Bass To Detroit for Arron Afflalo.

Why it works: Arron Afflalo is exactly the type of young point guard the Mavs want to have going forward.  He’s already a good defender, shoots well, and plays the game without forcing the issue or making careless mistakes.  Another quality young playerdrafted by Joe Dumars.  Plus, dude has an awesome name.

Why it doesn’t: This trade could only make sense in tandem with another deal that would bring in frontcourt depth.  The Mavs already have J.J. Barea, Jason Terry, and even Matt Carroll to back-up Kidd if the situation calls for it, while Brandon Bass is the only line of defense between a potential Dirk Nowitzki energy and complete Maverick apocalypse.  I love Afflalo’s game and I love his potential, but this move doesn’t make sense for Dallas right now.

Photo from AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki.

Jerry Stackhouse and Brandon Bass to Oklahoma City for Earl Watson.

Why it works: I’m not really sure.  I guess Earl Watson would be another Kidd back-up, or possibly an insurance policy if Dallas decides to go another way this summer.  Otherwise, I’m speechless.

Why it doesn’t: Earl Watson just isn’t that good.  His jumper is errant, his playmaking skills are slightly above average, and his defense is unimpressive.  There’s a reason that his “steady veteran presence” has made its rounds throughout the league, let’s just put it that way.  Plus, giving up an expiring deal and arguably Dallas’ most promising young player for a piece that doesn’t fit on the team, isn’t a youngster, and isn’t anything better than average seems awfully silly.

Photo from NBAE/Getty Images/Kent Smith.

Josh Howard and J.J. Barea to Charlotte for Raja Bell and Raymond Felton.

Why it works: Raymond Felton would be the Mavs’ point guard of the future and Raja Bell would be a capable starting 2 guard who still retains some of the skills of a lockdown defender.  At once, this trade will fill a glaring hole for the Mavs at the 2 and procure Kidd’s protégé.

Why it doesn’t: The Mavs are giving up quite a bit for two ill-fitting pieces.  Josh Howard is still a hotbed of talent, whether he can harness it or not.  J.J. Barea not only holds status as a Mavericks folk hero, but penetrates well, knows when to look for his own shot, and has plenty of time to improve on a perfectly reasonable contract.  Meanwhile, Raymond Felton would possibly be forced into the shooting guard slot alongside Kidd or in a back-up role, meaning that he won’t have experience running the point full-time when he takes over and/or he won’t have the added experience of playing against top-flight players.  Meanwhile, Raja Bell could be an interesting addition to the Mavs roster if it still featured Howard, but in this case filling the hole at the 2 leaves an even bigger one at the 3.  Devean George might actually start.  I’m doing my best to keep in my enthusiasm.  Beyond that, Felton isn’t a great shooter, has stalled at times in his progression, and Raja Bell is already a shade behind his former self and only getting worse.

Photo from NBA.com

Josh Howard and Brandon Bass to Memphis for Mike Conley and Darko Milicic.

Why it works: Mike Conley is going to be a stud.  He has all the physical tools required of a great point guard, and while his play has been up and down, I see the good in him.  He’s probably the best option listed here in terms of young guards, and the Grizz apparently aren’t entirely opposed to the idea of parting ways with him.  If Memphis was rumored to be interested in Milwaukee’s Ramon Sessions and Joe Alexander for Conley, why wouldn’t they be interested in Howard/Bass?  Darko on the other hand, despite his neverending status as a 2003 Draft punchline, is a pretty decent big man.  Like Conley, he’s had good days and bad.  But he’s also a legit 7-foot shot blocker with plenty of room to grow and a nice presence in the low post.

Why it doesn’t: It doesn’t help the Mavs this season.  Darko would be able to play either power forward or center on any given night, but the small forward position would be awful.  Conley doesn’t fill any specific short-term need,and would be a luxury I’m not sure the Mavs can afford on a roster that needs some help.