Could the Mavericks Be Receiving an In-State Trade Offer?

Speculation emerged on Friday indicating that the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets could make a deal involving Brendan Haywood.  Bill Ingram of Hoopsworld indicated that the Rockets sent scouts to Dallas during their six-game home-stand to observe Haywood. Even if the results they saw weren't great, they are still interested in Haywood.

The Rockets might be coming to the conclusion that Yao Ming can no longer be counted on as a building-block piece for their franchise.  A stress fracture in his left ankle is the latest injury in a long line of injuries that have derailed the Chinese center.  Reports confirmed the injury and he will be out the remainder of the season. 

That puts Houston in the market for a starting caliber center and Haywood would fit the bill.  Up until halfway through the preseason, Brendan Haywood was the starting center for the Dallas Mavericks.  A healthy Tyson Chandler has changed the game for the Mavericks and led to Haywood moving to the bench.  This has been a move that appears to be very problematic for Haywood.  It also could be problematic for the Mavericks as they resigned Haywood in the off-season with a contract that guarantees him five years and $43 million.

As we look at this situation, there are different angles to look at:

Why Would Houston Want Haywood?

The Rockets are now 11-15 on the season which has them with the 11th best record in the Western Conference.  They are a team that is essentially going to have to start over and rebuild.  The team is in mild to moderate state of desperation.  With Yao Ming's injury, it's time to look in a new direction for a starting center and those are hard to find.  There is a lot of uncertainty in the new collective-bargaining agreement, but a majority of the potential free agent big men don't really seem like a logical fits to find new homes.  With that, the trade market becomes the next route to take. Brendan is not Yao Ming, but when he's right, he's one of the better centers in the league.  With their record, an upgrade at that position could keep them in the mix of the playoff chase or allow them to rebuild with a center in place.

Why Would Dallas Want to Deal Haywood?

Coach Rick Carlisle has been supportive of the back-up center, "Brendan is our guy."  There has been a one-game suspension for Haywood for a violation of team rules and his overall attitude/demeanor has been an issue over the past couple of weeks.  The head coach doesn't believe the attitude or demeanor issue is relevant but would understand the reasoning if it were a problem.  "If that's the case, there's probably some frustration. This guy's been a starting center for 10 years. We're asking him to do something that's a big adjustment," Carlisle continued.  "Shawn Marion has made the same adjustment. Brendan works hard.  He's a big part of our team."

Haywood hasn't made himself available to the media since the suspension so it's hard to say what's actually going on with him.  The thought is that he's upset because he was either promised to be the starter once he signed his contract or something along those lines.  Things changed once Tyson Chandler was acquired over the summer and over the course of the preseason, Chandler won the position.  Things change and Haywood had a fair opportunity at the position and he's lost it for now.  It's completely up to him on what he wants to do going forward with the situation, he could make the best of it or be aloof about it. 

"He's such a good dude that I think it's tough," Tyson Chandler said. "It's a tough situation because when you're a guy who spends your whole career starting and used to playing X-amount of minutes and now you're being asked to do something that's so out of your norm, sometimes it takes a while to adjust. I fully expect him to be able to adjust and really help us out."

One of the glaring issues with Haywood is his free throw shooting.  He is now shooting 27% from the free throw line and team's are implementing the "Hack-a-Wood" play and forcing him to the line.  Haywood practices free throws daily with the Mavericks free throw coach and he makes a vast majority of his free throws there.  Now, it's just a matter of finding a way to transfer those results to game situations.  "With guys fouling him and sending him to the free throw line, he just has to step up and make it," said Jason Kidd.  "We all believe he's going to do the right thing and he's not trying to miss them.  This is a veteran ballclub and we're all cheering for him when he's out on the floor."

Everyone on the team understands that Haywood is going through a tough time but they're supporting their man.  "(Haywood will) be fine," said Caron Butler.  "He just has to keep his energy up.  Obviously he's going to be a professional,  so he's working hard at it.  Everybody goes through times in which they're trying to gather their rhythm
and find themselves.  That's my friend, that's my teammate so we're just going to stick with him."

If things don't really change with the attitude and results, something needs to be done to fix the situation.  In the days of guaranteed contracts, the Mavericks would bite the bullet and waive him.  The only realistic option would be then to trade the disgruntled center.

The Hot Cheerleader

If the Rockets are rebuilding, they really don't have a need for Kevin Martin.  The Mavericks have been very interested in Martin, they were in discussions with the Kings for Martin before ultimately working with Washington to get Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and Haywood. Kevin Martin is a shooting guard who could provide the Mavericks with the "Robin" they've been searching for.  Martin is one of the  most gifted scorers the league has to offer: smart, smooth, long, and quietly explosive. He is fearless going to the hoop and draws a lot of contact, and hits his free throws.  From a statistical standpoint, the Rockets guard is averaging 22.8 points on 44.2% shooting and 43.4% from long range.  He gets to the free throw line 8.6 times/game and shoots 90.7% from the line.  

So if he's so talented, why would Houston get rid of him?  They have pieces who could fill in for Martin and do so at a much cheaper rate.  They have Chase Budinger, Courtney Lee and newly acquired Terrence Williams who could step in and take Martin's role on the team.  Martin is arguably their strongest asset, at a position with suitable depth.  If they can parlay that asset in to eliminate a weakness, it makes sense for them.

What's the ownside...? 

The missing D.  Essentially, Kevin Martin is a one-dimensional player as a scorer but he does that at a great rate.  The one thing an optimist would look towards would be the Chandler Effect.  The Mavericks are stronger on the defensive end and Chandler plays a big role in that.  He can anchor the defense and be a last-line of defense if a perimeter player is beaten.  Martin hasn't really had that luxury in his career so it's always possible that his defensive shortcomings could be masked.

After this season, Martin has 2 years and just under $25 million left on his current deal.  Taking that into account, Dallas will need to add more than just Haywood to make a deal work with Martin. 

The Old Librarian

The Kevin Martin route would be the sexy and flashy way to go, there is another route both teams could take.  The Rockets would be happy, the Mavericks could too but it wouldn't be as flashy or as much of a wow factor.  If the Mavericks completely want to absolve themselves of Brendan Haywood and the Rockets are that desperate, a straight up trade could happen: Haywood for Jared Jeffries.  The 6-11 forward is now in his 9th year in the league, but he's a player without a true position.  His versatility can be helpful on the defensive end of the court but he's not that great of a defender for his size.  Jeffries' size would make you think he would be a decent rebounder but that is lacking as well.  It could be a situation of chemistry addition by talent subtraction.  The lucrative part of the deal for Dallas would be that they're getting even more flexible going forward as Jeffries is a free agent at the end of the season.  

That specific aspect could be beneficial in adding insurance to trying to secure Tyson Chandler to an extension.  If things continue as they are with Chandler, the Mavericks will want to sign him to an extension.  Despite uncertainty with the new CBA, Chandler is in no hurry to sign an extension.  That extra space with Haywood's contract out of the mix would certainly be a positive in the process for trying to retain Chandler.

There are a multitude of different options that could be worked out with Houston that don't involve Martin.  Players such as Brad Miller, Patrick Patterson and Courtney Lee could all be intertwined in a deal involving Haywood and another piece.  The intriguing piece that could come up for debate would be Roddy Beaubois.

Sacrifice "The Future"?

Roddy Beaubois has been labeled "The Future" of the team as he is an integral part to the long-term success for the franchise.  News circulated on Friday evening that Roddy believes he's just about a couple of weeks away from being able to return to action, we'll have to see if that actually holds true or not.  The Mavericks are still hoping Beaubois can be that second star.  The question is do you stick with the guy you believe in or go for the player who has already established themselves?

What Kind of Impact Does a Move Make for the Mavericks?

From a results aspect and a personnel aspect, it totally depends on the specifics of any deal. If they were to deal Haywood and not get a big man in return, the Mavericks would then have to lean on projects Ian Mahinmi and Alexis Ajinca as the primary backups.  Both big men had nice stretches over their extended home-stand over the past ten days and Rick Carlisle has mentioned, "You can see why we're very excited about the future of the team with those guys."  If something radical were to happen, the future would become the present with Mahinmi and Ajinca.  Again, depending on particulars, the Mavericks could still have flexible pieces to move in a trade to address any new holes that are created with the roster.  

So What Does it All Add Up to?

Speaking with people in the Mavericks organization, you understand that they do have an interest in a player like Martin as has been the case for a couple of seasons.  They have been looking for a capable second star to run with Dirk Nowitzki.  Sources with knowledge of the organization say the Mavericks would likely be hesitant on adding Beaubois in a deal if one ever came about with Houston. Speaking directly with a high ranking member at Mavericks headquarters, I received confirmation that the rumor is just that - a rumor.  The Rockets have not been in direct communication with the Mavericks and vice versa.  The Dallas side remains business as usual, but the Houston side appears to be shifting gears and entering an aggressive pursuit for a center and the Mavericks will be a team of interest for them. 

Whether or not anything happens involving Kevin Martin or Brendan Haywood actually happens, only time will tell.  It could be flashy, it could be boring or it could be nothing at all.  Either way, the Rockets are in a tough situation and they have to make a tough decision.  If the Rockets do intend to move forward and take the team in a new direction, the Mavericks should be expecting a phone call in the near future.

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