Considering the amount of buzz the recent transaction today gathered, I figured I'd drop in an offer some initial musings.
As Mark Stein reports, Dallas is sending Denver Rudy Fernandez and Corey Brewer for a second round pick. Viewing the trade in a vacuum, it looks absolutely horrendous. The Mavericks have a core group of players well past 30 and Fernandez and Brewer represented the only somewhat established vets (using that term loosely) with some youth. To make matters worse, Fernandez was brought in exchange for Texas forward Jordan Hamilton in the 2011 draft, a dynamic scorer with immense talent but some definite issues in the intangible department, for whatever that is worth (I will always wonder though, why Hamilton fell to 26 with all his talent in what was considered a historically weak draft. There's something to that). Brewer was an almost elite level perimeter defender and while his shot was awful, he displayed flashes of playmaking skill in his short burn with the Mavs. And, despite what you might think of this distinction, he was a former 2007 lottery pick, which not a lot of teams pick up for cheap before they enter their prime.
But you can't look at this trade in that sense, unless you want to ignore Dallas' entire off-season. It's clear that Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban want to slash payroll and stay as far away from a potential harsher luxury tax in two to three years. And as David Aldridge reports, the Mavericks will now be serious players for not just Deron Williams, but Dwight Howard, who has said one of the four teams he'd sign a long-term deal with would be Dallas. Dallas still can form a weak package to trade for Howard outright (and Orlando would have to be mental to accept any of Dallas' offers, unless every other team backs out from the running or a third team throws its hat in) but now with the apparent approval of Dallas from Howard, the Mavericks can now offer a full sales pitch to both superstars.
It's easy to point at the summer of 2010 and say the Mavs history with signing big-time free agents is rather dreadful. But that class was obviously settled on certain places regardless of what the Mavs did. Stoudemire was set on New York. LeBron, Wade and Bosh were dead set on joining each other. Did you really want the Mavs to pay Joe Johnson $20 million per year? Last year's free agent class seem settled before it even started, more so than we ever knew at the time.
Also, let's not forget that the Miami Heat pulled similar moves in preparation of the 2010 free agent period. Once their title window with Wade/Shaq was done, they immediately cleaned house. They cut ties with large, bloated and wasteful contracts in Shaq (and eventually Shawn Marion), James Posey, Antoine Walker, Gary Payton and Jason Kapono. They let older vets either retire or head elsewhere while they stacked their roster for the next two years with one year deals and low-cost young and inexperienced players. Remember, they traded the somewhat useful Michael Beasley for two meaningless picks from the Minnesota Timberwolves, just to clear room for the big three and supporting cast such as Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem.
There's a plan here in Dallas, one that could shake up the foundation and swing the balance of power squarely into the Mavs' favor. I don't need to tell you how potent a trio of Dirk, Howard and Williams would be and it's very possible this could happen in 2012. If it doesn't happen? Then sharpen your pitch forks and raise hell in the streets of Dallas -- the front office would deserve it then. But wait till the plan is finished before judging a plan. Also, it's not as if the Mavericks have left themselves like those 2008 and 2009 Heat teams -- the Mavericks are still a top contendor in the West with the additions of Lamar Odom, Vince Carter, Delonte West and Brandan Wright.