My friend Will and I used to play a lot of NBA 2k7. I’m not much of a video game guy—I don’t know that I’ve ever thrown a pass in NBA 2K11 that wasn’t picked off—but the point is, there was a kind of lineup we liked to turn to from time to time. This lineup was called the ridiculously huge lineup.
Here's what you do, if you want to play the Mavs in 2007 (and who didn't/doesn't). You trade for another center with a postup game, say, put Dirk at small forward (a position his skill set is more than ample for), play some big guard, and whoever you wanted at PG, and there you had it. The RIDICULOUSLY HUGE LINEUP. You could still funnel your offense through your pg (say Terry) and your Dirk, and spend the rest of the time blocking every shot.
I didn’t know Mark Cuban was cribbing notes from me.
Granted, Lamar Odom is not a center. But he IS a 6'10" Swiss Army Knife of a player, who can play a couple of positions, score in the flow of the offense and guard a lot of different types of players. And we did, just like you could, after turning off the 2K7 "block trades" feature, get him for essentially nothing.
Let’s talk about some Mavs lineups. Say, for example, Jason Kidd (6’4"), Corey Brewer (6’9"), Lamar Odom (6’10"), Dirk Nowitzki (7’0"), Brendan Haywood (7’0"). Let’s talk about putting Lamar at PF and Shawn Marion (an incredibly long 6’7") at SF.
Let’s talk about ridiculously huge. The move itself was ridiculously huge.
You really never know in the NBA. You hear about where Lebron, Wade and Bosh are going for a year, then it turns out it’d all been planned for roughly that long. Then Deron Williams is gone in the middle of the night. You hear the Mavs aren’t going to do anything, but the Lakers are going to get Chris Paul, the Nets might get Dwight, then just as you lay your little head down, you hear that the Mavericks got Lamar Odom for….
Nothing. Part of a trade exception. A couple of draft picks, for a team that’s not likely to have a good one for a while and that doesn’t tend to do much with them when it does (though, of course, we’re all still heavily counting on Shan Foster and Maurice Ager to make strides this year).
The Lakers lose one of their most important cogs for the HOPE that they can add an even more important one. Can they? Who knows. As Boweman55 has pointed out, the trade exception they created (approximately 2/3rds of the Chandler trade exception) isn’t enough to absorb Hedo Turkoglu’s contract so they still need to do more if they really want to make a Dwight move.
The Mavericks gain one of the most versatile players in the game. We may not love him personally, in Mavs town—everybody remembers how he ended last season—but I bet feelings change in a hurry the first time we get to see Marion and Odom making basketball really hard for a couple of wings on one end and scoring in the flow of the offense on the other.
And since the Mavs can buy Lamar out for just 3 million dollars next year, it gives them all the cap space they were going to have next year already, PLUS a year of service from a sometimes All-Star.
As certain of the twitterati have pointed out, this is going to make the annual sixth man competition between Terry and Odom much more interesting.
Let’s say these things. The Mavs were always going to field an excellent team this year. Yes, they lost four major cogs of their championship run, but 1) everybody but Tyson has an obvious replacement and 2) they were an excellent team before Tyson. Bonus, 3) They still were, and are, super deep.
If the Lakers had been successful trading Gasol and Odom, you know who they would have started at PF? I don’t, but from a scan of their roster, it looks like Derrick Caracter. Backing up Ron Artest (‘scuse me, Metta World Peace) would have been—who? Luke Walton? Jason Kapono? Devin Ebanks?
The Mavs, after losing Chandler, DeShawn, Barea and Butler still had Brewer, Fernandez, Beaubois, Haywood, Mahimni, and former lottery pick Wright. To go along with Dirk, Kidd, Terry, Marion. You had to like the chances of that team against a rapidly aging Kobe even with Chris Paul.
Now? We add one of the league’s most versatile scorers and defenders, we take it away from our main rivals, and we give up nothing.
If you and I are being honest with each other, one of us will begrudgingly point out that most of the issues caused by Chandler’s departure are still facing the Mavs (probably you, you're the negative one). With Marion, Kidd, and whoever (Brewer, now), our boys were always going to be able to match up well with the bigger, more physical players, but mostly, have to hope that Beaubois or Jones, or even Rudy, can prevent them from getting lit up by the smaller, faster guards whose success lighting up the Mavs in the pre-Tyson years has created more than a few careers (Ramon Sessions, anyone?).
They still have to hope that. But so what? This is the NBA. Even the 1999-2002 Lakers had to play Rick Fox.
Lamar Odom is a uniquely talented, and just flat out talented, player, who like Marion can plug a lot of gaps and give a lot of different players trouble—for nothing. And without giving up a single thing towards the dream of having cap space next year. He probably replaces Butler's production, and can back up Dirk or Marion, or have Marion back him up. Might even see some time as the offense's initiator, spelling J-Kidd.
Mavs fans, tonight we feast.
(Now, if you’re asking me why you can’t trade for Chris Paul with Gasol and Odom, or Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and Goran Dragic, depending on how you want to look at it, but you can trade Odom for nothing…)