As stated in Part One, the Mavericks will test the trade waters to determine what is available to help improve their roster. The problem is that the workable assets are thin in terms of actual personnel to incorporate in to a deal. Dallas does have Caron Butler's expiring contract to offer but it is just a contract as the player, himself, is done for the year. But unless a team is doing a straight salary dump, the Mavs don't have a whole lot to offer on the trade front in terms of actual personnel that would actually excite another organization.
Jeff "Skin" Wade brought up a solid point on his recent Inside Skinny on ESPNDallas.com. The injury situation to Dirk Nowitzki has allowed the Mavericks to test different lineups but it does allow the team to show off the assets they do have to potential suitors.
Skin on Ajinca
What we've learned is that he's a solid athlete for a 7-footer with a nice outside touch comfortably stretching out to the short-porch corner 3. He's also in the last year of a deal making $1.5 million. He's only 22. The more you see him play, the more intrigued you become. Add it all together and that has value.
Teams that may be in trade discussions with the Mavericks right now need to see him play. He's not just a "throw-in." He has skills worth developing, but he's a project and that ain't part of the program with a veteran team thinking about hardware.
The other likely assets in terms of personnel would be (in no specific order): Brian Cardinal, Ian Mahinmi, JJ Barea, Roddy Beaubois and Dominique Jones. Sources have indicated that Mark Cuban is the President of the Roddy Beaubois Fan Club so unless a major superstar deal is there, I find it hard to believe he'd actually trade away Beaubois. That means in terms of a young guard, Dominique Jones could possibly emerge as the viable trading chip.
Whether it is Beaubois or Jones, other teams understand they're getting a project player. The teams obtaining either guard will be at least 2-3 years away from being remotely relevant so that would give those guards time to learn and grow with little pressure. With a project guard, savvy free agent moves and solid drafting, said team could be a viable playoff team in a couple of years as some of the other teams age and fade into the background.
Tying in the personnel and non-personnel assets, it's time to dive in to Part Two and find more potential suitors.
Go to the Charlotte Donation Society
Little did we know that Michael Jordan ultimately did the Mavericks a major favor by taking Erick Dampier, Matt Carroll and Eduardo Najera in exchange for Tyson Chandler and Alexis Anjinca. Chandler has emerged as a healthy and game-changing center that is in the mix for the Most Improved Player Award and we have already talked about the layers of upside with Ajinca. Charlotte swingman Stephen Jackson would be a more than capable option to replace Caron Butler's production. The Charlotte Bobcats continue to be a lower-tier team in the easy-to-survive Eastern Conference and they are a team primed to make cost-cutting moves.
The Mavericks would hesitate on acquiring Jackson due to his contract; "Captain Jack" is in the first year of a new three-year contract valued at $28 million. The simple math indicates that he will be 36 years old when his contract expires. The uncertainty of the new Collective-Bargaining Agreement would scare the Mavericks but it does create a sense of hesitation. If a hard salary cap is coming, the Mavericks want to know the specifics of the cap before making a huge financial commitment. Dallas would love to keep Tyson Chandler in a Mavericks uniform for additional years and absorbing a bigger contract could hinder their chances of retaining the big man and managing other moves. Another wrinkle in the situation could be the fact that Rick Carlisle and Jackson have a history and it's up in the air whether that should be considered as a positive. It's possible that both parties can let bygones be bygones but that remains to be seen.
As of Friday, signs are suggesting that Charlotte could be a willing seller. Reports are indicating that the Cleveland Cavaliers are talking to Charlotte in an attempt acquire Gerald Wallace for the major trade exception the Cavaliers acquired by losing LeBron James, Cleveland could potentially ask for a lottery-protected first round pick. The struggling Cavaliers would ask for that to help take on the two years and $22 million left on Wallace’s contract through the 2012-13 season. No deal is imminent but it appears that the Bobcats are willing to deal away Wallace before the deadline.
In working a deal with Charlotte, they would already be gaining savings by getting Butler's expiring contract, asking for Beaubois is just trying to out-muscle the Mavericks. That doesn't mean the Mavericks would avoid giving future assets to the Bobcats but Beaubois would be off of the table. If Charlotte does move Wallace with no immediate talent coming in return, it's hard to believe that Charlotte's playoff chances can survive, that means they can engage in full-on fire-sale mode. Charlotte and Dallas would need to find a middle ground in terms of negotiations before the Mavericks can zero in on Jackson.
Go to the Charlotte Donation Society - Speculative HIT
Steal a Batman to Be a Robin
Various reports have indicated that the Indiana Pacers have softened their no-trade stance on their franchise stud, Danny Granger. It appears they are beginning to listen to offers with more of an open mind when it comes to shipping out the forward. Danny Granger has been the face of the franchise for Pacers over the past five seasons. The truth is that Granger, still the best player in a Pacers uniform, has not been as good as last year. His scoring and shooting numbers are down from last year with better talent around him. Despite the Eastern Conference being wide open, the Pacers are inevitably setting up to barely miss out on the playoffs or be a sacrificial lamb to an elite team. It appears that the difference between Indiana and Charlotte is that Charlotte has more established players with a veteran-led staff.
The Pacer has embraced his role as the leader of the team but it is easily seen that he is better suited as a Robin rather than a Batman. Playing next to another all-star or superstar could be what Granger needs, how about Dirk Nowitzki? The problem with an attempt to acquire Granger is the perception factor. Indiana is a small market team so that makes Granger an inflated "superstar piece", which means that they will demand a superstar package in return. The Mavericks would have to throw an offer in the form of Caron Butler, Roddy Beaubois and probably Brendan Haywood just as a STARTING point in terms of talent. I have my reservations in believing that the Mavericks would offer that for a Batman better served as a Robin. I do believe they would do it to bring a sure-fire superstar, but not one that is a borderline star.
Steal a Batman to Be a Robin - MISS
Making the Team Older AND Better
Older people tend to flock to Florida, they also go to Phoenix and that's a potential trading partner for the Mavericks. Despite losing Amar'e Stoudemire over the summer to free agency, the Suns were hoping to be able to stay viable in the Western Conference. It appears they are going to miss the playoffs or set themselves up for a disappointing first round exit. There are two interesting pieces in Phoenix that could make Dallas older but better: Steve Nash and Grant Hill.
Either player would help the Mavericks out based on them filling a personnel need. Sources indicate that the problem in trying to acquire either player would be the fact that the two players would rather stay on the sinking ship instead of starting over in a new location. Both players have a strong allegiance to the front office and there is a strong sense of familiarity and comfort. It's hard to imagine that Hill or Nash would get dealt at the deadline, the off-season is a different story but that doesn't do anything for the Mavericks' immediate need.
Making the Team Older AND Better - MISS
Make a Quick Trip to K-Mart
Rumors, that were eventually debunked, circulated several weeks ago that the Mavericks and the Rockets could potentially engage in negotiations with Brendan Haywood and Kevin Martin being the key figures in a deal. It was established that it was merely a case of each team like the main part from the opposing side. The Mavericks would love to add Martin and his 23 points/game to the team. They probably would love that more than the Rockets love for acquiring Haywood. Martin has been a highly-coveted trading target for the Mavericks for over a year. It just doesn't appear that the Rockets would concede their demise and make an in-state rival even stronger at their extent.
Shane Battier and/or Courtney Lee would be nice additions to the wing position for the Mavericks but again, I don't see the Rockets chomping at the bit to make the Mavericks better.
Making a Quick Trip to K-Mart - MISS
Looking to the Capital of California
When looking for a solid trading partner, it helps if the partner is floundering and you're not necessarily targeting their prime assets. Sacramento clearly has nice pieces in Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins but the Mavericks could be looking at two or more different pieces in Sacramento's camp. Jeff "Skin" Wade gave the Inside Skinny on how the Kings could be a viable trading partner, I definitely agree with the thought process. The Kings have two solid pieces and despite that, they still remain cellar-dwelling residents of the Western Conference. They have cap space and additional pieces of value but they clearly don't make the team improve. Why not just continue to mount assets and cap space, management would love a reduced payroll and additional assets to work with.
The Sacramento Kings are essentially the one-stop shop to help address multiple concerns about the Mavericks roster, though it does seem a little excessive on the assets being giving up. In the first scenario, going for Omri Casspi and Carl Landry: multiple picks, cash considerations, exceptions and Ajinca are involved. To an extent, the picks leave me uneasy for acquiring Landry who could easily leave at the end of the season.
The other angle presented is going for it all by taking on Beno Udrih. Taking on Beno Udrih might be a little harsh, Beno is a talented point guard; the challenge is taking on his contract. Udrih is due $14 million over the next two seasons. In Part One, we mentioned the Cleveland's point guard duo come off as expensive; Udrih would come off as über-expensive as a backup point guard. One huge advantage for the southpaw is that he is a better scoring threat than Barea from all areas of the floor. If the Mavericks are rolling with a backup point guard who is a scoring threat, Udrih would be a sufficient upgrade over Barea.
Again, the pieces Dallas would give up might be considered overboard based on the fact Landry can bolt at the end of the year and Casspi is a fringe starter and Udrih is a backup. In this scenario, the Mavericks could be overpaying but they are getting the most bang for their buck in terms of addressing weaknesses. The point guard position is strengthened, Beaubois (hopefully) takes over in Butler's scoring role and Casspi and Landry can serve as the X-Factors.
Looking to the Capital of California - HIT
Summing Up Part Two:
- Charlotte has Stephen Jackson and the Mavericks would like him.. If Cleveland and Charlotte do the rumored Gerald Wallace deal, the floodgates can open.
- Indiana has a capable Robin for Dallas but they are going to ask for the world.
- The desert of Phoenix will lead to nothing
- Houston is Houston
- Sacramento is another borderline D-League team and they create an opportunity to reload the roster.
Looking over the landscape from Part One and Part Two, there are options the Mavericks can go to in order to make adjustments and improve. The teams that interest me the most and are the most viable are (in order of interest, highest to lowest based on asking price): Sacramento, Detroit, Cleveland and Charlotte. If the asking price can change with Charlotte, and it appears that it can/will, they will move higher up on the list - Sacramento or Charlotte?
When or if a move is made, there will clearly be growing pains along the way. The Mavericks would have to incorporate new pieces into the system and rebuild their chemistry. Again, the regular season is essentially 82 practice games for the Mavericks, the playoffs are what matter most. Tyson Chandler understands the perils of injury and can relate to Nowitzki's current injury status, but he understands the big picture. "As tough as it is to take losses -- I’m a very passionate person and I take every loss personally – I would much rather have him down the stretch when it counts," Chandler said. "This is not the playoffs. We’re not winning any championships right now. But I’m not going to kid you, it is built throughout the season." The Mavericks will have time to continue building and have the chance to peak at the right time. If Dirk and Company can stay healthy while starting to play their best basketball as April winds down, that's all you can ask for.
There you have it, time to leave Rumorville. The trade deadline is in six weeks and the Mavericks will be active...what will the end result be?