Why the Mavericks' Lack of Assets May Not Be That Big of a Deal For Trading


Last year, the Mavericks traded Erick Dampier for Tyson Chandler, a move that, for whatever reason, did not seem to many of our Maniaacs to be a wildly disproportionate trade. They could have traded for Al Jefferson with a couple of draft picks which, unless those draft picks turned out to be some pretty surprising talents (that is, the exact opposite of every Mavs draft pick besides Dirk Nowitzki), would also have been, from a talent perspective, wildly disproportionate.

The latest NBA trade, Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza for a nameless big contract (Rashard Lewis) and a worthless draft pick (#46), therefore a trade of one of the better centers and an athletic, capable swingman for (probably) exactly 0 players who will ever play for the Hornets confirms what we already knew: taking on expensive talent is a risk, getting cap space is risk free, and owners are ever more leaning towards the second one.

Since the Mavericks have approximately 0 players that other NBA teams would want to pay anything for, whom they would also be willing to rid themselves of, but several creative ways to give other teams cap space, that's good news.

This is in many ways the unseen cost of a salary cap and, in fact, a low salary cap. There is no other American sport in which it's a stretch to hire three all-stars. Since age has its NBA privileges, largely higher-scale contracts, this ends up meaning two things.

First of all, it means that older players are, more and more, a risk not worth taking. This is not just a salary issue, it's become a bizarre sideshow in competition-related conversations. People thought the Spurs were done last year because, even though they were good enough to win a zillion games, they lost in the first round so it was definitely time to wildly overreact to an extremely small sample size of games. The Spurs, being smarter than all other teams, didn't, and were rewarded with a nearly-championship worthy run, reeling off two straight playoff series sweeps before running into the buzzsaw that is the OKC Thunder this year.

It has lent itself to you or I being able to read business like talk of drafting Arnett Moultrie as an eventual replacement for Dirk---who literally just turned 34, and who, when his contract is up, will still be younger than Kevin Garnett is right now. For the Mavericks it will likely mean that, while JET is still probably not going to be wearing blue next year because of the number of years the Mavericks will offer him (probably 1), he will be highly underwhelmed by the offers he receives.

Although Terry seemed to have a bumpy season this year, he still averaged 15+ points a game, good for 40th in the NBA, and can no doubt do the same next year. He is still a pretty elite three-point shooter, though he had a down year in that category too, last year, he is a fine foul-shooter and a clutch performer. But no one will want to pay him very much to do so, because he is 34 years old. When you can't afford more than a couple impact players behind Jason Terry, you want one who isn't like to be decrepit by the end of his contract

The other thing, of course, is that cap is king. These days it can seem like the idea of trading talent for talent is utterly insane. It's not that it never happens. Javale and Nene was a pretty good trade for both sides, for example. But Okafor + Ariza for Contract + 43rd pick? Much, much more common in today's NBA.

We've known this. In fact, I floated the idea that the Mavericks might be able to get Okafor for essentially cap space less than two weeks ago, right here.

But just keep in mind that as the Mavericks poke around for trade partners for contracts like Lamar Odom's, Vince Carter's or Brendan Haywood's, they are very much not looking for someone who actually wants to play any of those guys (well, maybe Odom, someone could imagine he could mentally re-commit). And, of course, that's a good thing.

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