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Rumor Mill: Van Horn to Replace George?

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Marc Stein, who first broke news of the trade yesterday, posted an updated story about 20 minutes ago. He says both teams still plan on making this trade work and that it is not at all dead.

Yet at least two sources close to the process remained optimistic that the deal will be completed -- either in its original or a substitute form -- before the NBA's annual trading deadline, which falls next Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.
Should George not change his mind, the Mavs are reportedly considering using the ghost of Keith Van Horn to make it work.
The fallback scenario is Dallas agreeing to sign-and-trade Keith Van Horn in George's place, capitalizing on the fact that the Mavericks still hold Van Horn's rights and the fact that Van Horn has not submitted official retirement papers to the league office since he last played in 2005-06. Players who are signed-and-traded are required to receive a three-year contract, but only the first year must be guaranteed. Dallas could thus create an expiring-contract effect with Van Horn to match George's expiring contract, which is the main reason New Jersey is so adamant about having George in the deal.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has also been adamant about his refusal to play the Van Horn chip, as that would only add to the growing luxury-tax bill that this trade would inflict. "We won't use [Van Horn] in any deal for anyone," Cuban told ESPN.com last week.

Sources say that Cuban, though, has gradually softened that stance and is prepared to include Van Horn if George doesn't bow to the internal and external pressure he's receiving from his teammates, bosses and fans.
Cuban said a lot of things last week...