The trade deadline is in forty-two days and the Dallas Mavericks, as always, will be a team involved in numerous trade rumors. The deflating season-ending injury to Caron Butler definitely forces the Mavericks to re-examine things. Healthy or hampered with injuries, the Mavericks would always look to be opportunistic in find ways to make their team better.
It is hard to look ahead and predict where the Mavericks will finish in the Western Conference as there are too many variables such as injuries and trades that could shake the axis of the conference. If the Mavericks do gain home-court advantage in the playoffs, they could petition the league to try to defer the advantage for as long as possible. Currently, Dallas holds an NBA-best road record of 12-3 and an above-average home record of 14-8.
Making things difficult when it comes to self-evaluation and moving forward, the Mavericks are also currently missing Dirk Nowitzki and Roddy Beaubois. Nowitzki will hopefully return to the lineup within the next week while Beaubois' return date is still mired in doubt. The French guard is now able to jump, run on a treadmill, plant his feet and cut so things are starting to progress. The thing with Beaubois will be that he will need time to get acclimated to playing NBA-basketball. For a player with his speed and agility, Beaubois will fatigue quickly and it could possibly take him multiple weeks to finally feel "game ready." As the days goes by, the Mavericks have a very small window of time to evaluate its roster, determine how significant of a deal is necessary and what the priority is in terms of overall position of need.
The issue goes more on the Owner and the General Manager, but Head Coach Rick Carlisle did comment on Monday in regards to what he would like to see. "Healthy guys that we already have, that's the biggest thing. We love our team in its healthy state," Carlisle said. "I haven't been spending a lot of energy on a wish list of players. My job is to get the guys that we have tuned into this opportunity and the challenge we have here." Since it is not his job, let's go ahead and look at the bigger rumblings going on around the association and see if they are hits or misses for the Mavericks. Before anything, it's good to know what they have in terms of assets. Here's a breakdown of what the Mavericks have at their disposal.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com had a nice review of the newest asset in a general manager's toolkit, the trade exception. A trade exception has a shelf life of a year before it just evaporates; they hold value in the off-season just as much as they do in the regular season. The Mavericks actually had one expire this week in the form of Kris Humphries $2.9 million trade exception in the deal that sent Humphries and Shawne Williams to New Jersey to obtain Eduardo Najera. It is not utter negligence on the part of the front office for the Mavericks; it is common for teams to just allow the exceptions to expire. Dallas does still possess three trade exceptions equaling out to just over $8 million. The exceptions: Quinton Ross at roughly $1 million - expiring on February 14th, Matt Carroll at roughly $4.3 million and Eduardo Najera at roughly $3 million that both expire in July. They would be able to do individual trades with the same team utilizing multiple exceptions. Despite the "credit extension" value of the exception, it could potentially become a thing of the past just as quickly as it emerged as a prominent trading asset. Based on the uncertainty of the new CBA, that could possibly dampen the value of the trade exception going into next season.
Future draft picks prove to be valuable assets in a trade package. The Mavericks have future first and second round picks at their disposal in a trade package, there are restrictions though. Teams are restricted from trading away future first round draft picks in consecutive years. This rule came into effect when the Mavericks dealt with the New Jersey Nets with Devin Harris and Jason Kidd as the main components of the deal; Dallas dealt their 2008 and 2010 first round picks to the Nets. There is a seven year rule which allows teams to trade draft picks up to seven years into the future. Teams are allowed to protect themselves by making them lottery protected picks.
For Mavericks in the "Dirk Window" of four years, the team could conceivably throw two future round picks in a deal. During the window, it's likely they will be late first round picks and the Mavericks have shown over the years that they can find a suitor to buy a first round pick if they really feel the need to have a pick in the first round. According to RealGM.com, the Mavericks, conditionally, they have a second rounder due to them owned by Minnesota for 2012 and a second rounder due to them owned by Toronto for 2013.
The Mavericks did not use their $5.765 million Mid-Level Exception during the off-season. The MLE is considered to be the average salary in the NBA and is a mechanism which allows a team to function above the cap, which the Mavericks are. On January 10, the MLE began to reduce in value; they reduce by 1/180 of their initial value after that date. The fact that the Mavericks still possess it means is that Dallas will be able to use that asset when teams try to cut costs and buy out existing contracts. Teams worth noting that do NOT have any of their MLE: Boston, Denver, LA Lakers, Miami, Milwaukee, New York, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Phoenix and Portland. The San Antonio Spurs only possess a fraction of their MLE remaining. That means, out of playoff contending teams, Dallas will have the most money to offer to a high-caliber player who has been bought out of their contract.
Dallas recently signed Sasha Pavlović to a 10-day contract (lasting 10 days or 3 games, whichever comes later). The Mavericks are allowed to sign Pavlović to an additional 10-day contract if they so desire. However, if they do offer Pavlović the second 10-day contract, the Mavericks must then make a decision on Pavlović. They can let him go or they will have to sign him for the duration of the season.
Cash can make things happen, including making trades. Players can be traded for cash, and cash can be included in trade packages. The amount of cash is limited to $3 million.
Here are the major assets the Mavericks have at their disposal outside of their own personnel:
Quinton Ross' $1 million trade exception - Expires February 14th
Matt Carroll's $4.3 million trade exception - Expires July 13th
Eduardo Najera's $3 million trade exception - Expires July 13th
Non-consecutive first round picks for the next seven years
Cash considerations limited to $3 million
Pro-rated Mid-Level Exception
With all of that said, here are the possible scenarios.
Cutting in on the Denver Dance
It seems like the Denver Nuggets are finding new ways to make the Carmelo Anthony situation even messier. During the past week, the Nuggets struggled to arrive at a clean-cut decision in regards to trading away Carmelo Anthony to the New Jersey Nets in a mega-deal involving the Detroit Pistons. One of the many current hold-ups appears to be that the Nuggets would like someone (anyone) to take Al Harrington off of their payroll. It's interesting how those who act in desperation tend to regret their decision later on. For those who have forgotten, the Mavericks and the Nuggets were in a bidding war for Harrington's services. Denver had front-court injury concerns and that forced them to offer the full Mid-Level Exception offer to Harrington, an offer Dallas refused to make. Obviously, Harrington took the contract offer and the Nuggets would like to wipe the slate clean and absolve themselves of that deal. The Mavericks could have an interest in Harrington; the current price-tag makes things very difficult though.
Now, the biggest hang-up appears to be that Carmelo Anthony truly doesn't want to be a New Jersey Net. If that is the case, I find it hard to believe that the Nets will then follow through with the blockbuster deal but anything is possible. The New York Knicks would emerge as the top suitor for Anthony but teams like the Mavericks and the Rockets could emerge as dark horses. In my opinion, the Mavericks would fall into third place in that scenario; the other teams have stronger pieces to offer to the Nuggets (Butler's injury is a difference-maker).
Cutting in on the Denver Dance - MISS
Oh, him again?
Dallas could be interested in talking to Denver if their Anthony trade goes through and they acquire a specific piece. ESPN's Marc Stein reported that the Mavericks have begun internal discussions in regards to the possibility of trying to reacquire the point guard if he is traded to the Nuggets. Right or wrong, the Nuggets love the long-term value in point guard Ty Lawson. The Nuggets would then look for a trading partner to ship Harris right out of town. The roadblock for the Nuggets would be that the only way they can quickly unload Harris is in a deal where that's all the Nuggets can offer in a deal, they would be unable to package Harris along with any other Nugget in a deal.
With the Carmelo deal up in the air, there is the possibility that Harris remains a Net, but the Nets have revealed their hand in showing what it could possibly take to get Harris. Devin Harris returning to the Mavericks isn't the home-run deal they would hope to land but Harris would definitely improve the current roster. There would be interesting back-court tandems that would emerge, some that Mavericks fans have seen (Devin Harris/Jason Terry) and ones that we have yet to see (Jason Kidd/Devin Harris). The latter scenario appears to negate Harris' strength but it could work. The Mavericks would likely need Harris to be a good soldier and be the main back-up point guard off of the bench. Minutes would clearly be there in the regular season as the team wants to preserve Kidd for the playoffs; the playoffs would be a different story.
In a Nuggets deal, Dallas would have pieces to offer to Denver to get them out of the luxury tax; it just may be that their pieces don't come out as the best available package for the Nuggets. I don't really see a feasible option working if the Mavericks have to deal with the Nets as the Mavericks don't have the major assets that the Nets would desire. As a young point guard, there will be many suitors to acquire Harris. In my opinion, if the Mavericks emerge as the front-runner for Harris, and that is a big if, they would engage in the possibility of bringing Harris back after exhausting other options down the list.
Oh, him again? - GRAZE
The Motor City Mess
In the blockbuster deal with the Nets and the Nuggets, the Detroit Pistons are the bridge to make things happen. In that scenario, the bridge is stuck continuing to sell "we are planning for the future" to their fan base. Early in the trade negotiations, Detroit was holding out because they wanted draft picks compensation and an additional amount of cap relief, even with the fact they were getting plenty of cap relief in the original negotiations. That tells me they're willing to sacrifice talent to assemble assets to build for the future. If the blockbuster deal falls through, it does not change the fact that the Pistons have shown they're willing to make cost-cutting moves at the expense of their talent.
Based on contracts and talent, a viable option would be Tayshaun Prince. Prince signed a 5 year, $47.5 million extension in October 2005, which means he is the final year of his deal. For Detroit, why would they get rid of an expiring contract? A team could offer them similar relief in an expiring contract, future draft considerations, money and a potential project piece. It still allows them to rebuild but they will have more to work with. Prince is not a flashy player and probably would have been a better fit in 2007 but today, the forward still has value. He is long of limb and very athletic, which could be very useful in the Mavericks zone defense. Prince is a jack of trades while lacking mastery of any set skill. If the move is low-risk in terms of trading chips and Detroit buys in to the value, it seems like a solid idea.
The Motor City Mess- HIT
Search for Brotherly Love
Andre Iguodala has been a player that has been mired in trade speculation for the past couple of seasons, who knows if this is actually the year that he actually is dealt. Acquiring Iguodala would be a challenge as he has a 4 years, $54.6 million contract. It's up to the 76ers on how long they actually need to hold on to Iguodala as the slashing forward is a safety net for rookie Evan Turner. In the past, Philadelphia has tried to unload Elton Brand's contract in a deal that involves Iguodala. Brand is having a bounce-back year, but not enough to the point where an opposing team will take his contract. It’s hard to justify a contract that pays out $16 million a season. Perhaps worst of all is that he still has two years left on his contract after this current season plays out.
Another problem for the Mavericks is that the Sixers are flirting with making the playoffs. With the increased revenue by making the playoffs and the renewed sense of hope, that makes acquiring Iguodala even more of a challenge. Unless they have a change of heart, it appears this leads to a dead end.
Search for Brotherly Love - MISS
Talking With LeBron's Old Friends
Cleveland is a mess, plain and simple. They have lost 21 out of their last 22 games including an embarrassing 112-57 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. In the month of December, the Cleveland Cavaliers only had one victory (1-14). I originally thought that they would be lucky to win 30 games in the season, they currently have 8; I might have given the Cavaliers a little too much credit. Antawn Jamison is a former Maverick and the reasons he is a former Maverick would be the same reasons why he would not be a viable option right now. Jamison is a talented a versatile offensive weapon but it appears he is beyond repair with his defensive limitations. The price-tag, $15 million due next year, leads you to believe it is out of the range for the Mavericks.
As mentioned in the Denver/New Jersey scenario, the Mavericks would like to improve their overall point guard depth and the Cavaliers do have to viable options in Daniel Gibson and Ramon Sessions. Both of their contracts run for two additional years. Sessions has a player option in that second year and he would be foolish to pass on it and Gibson's second year is a team-option year. Compared to Barea's modest price-tag of just under $2 million, the contracts of Gibson and Sessions look like radically expensive pieces. That isn't necessarily the case as Barea is just incredibly cheap. In most instances, point guards are highly valued so they should command a pretty healthy contract. Both Cleveland guards have their limitations from the point guard position but would be a solid improvement over what the Mavericks currently have. Based on the situation in Cleveland, it would seem like they're a trading partner that would not require loads of assets being shipped up to Ohio.
Talking With LeBron's Old Friends - HIT
Summing Up Part One:
- Working with Denver and/or New Jersey looks to be a long-shot, before and after their rumored blockbuster trade.
- Detroit is an intriguing trade partner but it would require them to continue giving the impression that they are entering into fire-sale mode.
- Iguodala has been a target for years but it would require a massive change of heart in Philadelphia to have the forward's availability fit the Mavericks trade package.
- Cleveland is a borderline D-League team; they create an opportunity to make a subtle upgrade at a position of suggested weakness.
Mavs Moneyball will have part two of Rumorville on Friday. Hopefully, part two will be more in the vein of Back to the Future Part Two as opposed to Weekend at Bernie's Two.