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Don't Expect a Blockbuster Deal From Mavericks

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Do the Dallas Mavericks need to participate in the game, Let's Make a Deal? The Mavericks have been to Rumorville and back. The Mavericks of 2009-2010 lost their mojo and never recovered before the break, which led to their major deal with Washington to bring in Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson. Six weeks ago, Dallas looked like a team that was, once again, stuck in quicksand and looked destined to fall behind in the pack. The difference was that injuries led to the team's dramatic struggle. The Mavericks found their mojo and have returned back in the pack of elite teams that could legitimately be a title contender.

"This is a great feeling,'' Terry said when asked to describe this season's squad compared to last season's team. "Last year, going into this time, I think we had a trade on the horizon, so we were kind of in flux and we didn't know what to expect. This year, our team is intact. We don't foresee any moves - that I can see. It would surprise the heck out of me.''

So the question then becomes, do the Mavericks need to make a trade? Thursday marks the trade deadline and most of the leg work in creating trades is done over All-Star Weekend. Most or all of the owners and general managers are in town so work can get done.

Mark Cuban has never been confused for an owner that will sit on his hands, the man is always looking for the next deal. Surprising many, Cuban has given the impression that the trade deadline could come and go with the Mavericks standing pat. "I'm going to be opportunistic, and if somebody comes along and makes an offer we can't refuse, I'm going to grab it," Cuban said. "But there's not as much a sense of urgency to do something as there was last year. It's different circumstances obviously. We've really had a lot of people step up this year. We really didn't have that last year."

One of the bigger pieces, if not the biggest piece, that could be moved in a deal for the Mavericks would be Caron Butler. His expiring contract, at nearly $10.6 million, could fetch a talented player or two in return. The "problem" is that Butler appears to be headed towards a quicker than expected recovery from his knee surgery in early January. Early last week, Butler was seeing walking around while showing no signs of a limp, rode a stationary bike and began running on an underwater treadmill. "This is what they call phase two in getting to phase six,'' Butler said. "Able to ride the back, first day running (underwater). Eight weeks in, I start doing some strengthening stuff. And from that point on, it's how much (pain) can you take. You throw everything at it if we're not having any complications and continue to move forward.''

Butler continues to believe that he can return to the team in time for the playoffs. "Let's see what happens," he said. "I'm feeling good, though, mentally and physically. (Tuesday) was my first day running in the pool and I felt great. I plan on playing in this year's playoffs.'' There is upside to keeping Butler past the deadline. There is a chance that he could put them over the top in the playoffs. He could also be retained in the off-season at a reduced rate. You can see Jameer Nelson during the 2008-2009 season to observe the potential downside of bringing a player back in the midst of the playoffs.

There is something to be said about building chemistry and creating consistency. This season, various members of the Mavs have stated that the chemistry in the locker room is solid and that everyone has their eye's set on the same goal. Sacrifices have been made across the board and it is apparent that the players are playing for one another. The personalities have meshed together and all of the pieces truly do seem to fit together. Even when the times were tough, the front office stated that nothing would be done until the team had a chance to recover and see where they stood when the dust settled.

The Mavericks have tried over the years to make big moves in an attempt to create chemistry on the fly. The team used this off-season to continue incorporating the new pieces and building the proper philosophy for everyone to buy in to. Building and creating team chemistry is never easy. Once you have it, you've got lightning in a bottle. Dallas is truly a team that is built on being unselfish. Heading into the All-Star break, ball movement and player movement has been a major strength on offense.

There have been a lot of positives to take in the process. When they are playing at a high level, the players are playing with the awareness that if the defense is collapsing on them, then it is time to make the pass. Earlier in the season, when it was time to lay down the framework of the team, Dallas showed the ability to be a team that could play and win based off of their structure on defense. The defensive intensity level has dropped off, but they have time to put things back into place. The Mavs will eventually go back to throwing out a zone defense and that might bring things back to where they were earlier in the season. The team felt like they needed to go back to playing more man-to-man defense because that will be needed when it comes to playing in the playoffs. That does not mean they will fully abandon the zone. The team will likely take the dust off of their zone defense after the All-Star break and make sure it can still be implemented when it is truly needed.

Also, the front office did a nice job plucking Sasha Pavlovic out of obscurity and got the most out of his two 10-day contracts. They also acquired Peja Stojakovic after he was bought out from the Toronto Raptors. Rick Carlisle managed the team with new players in the mix and found ways to make it all work.

It also helps that Dirk Nowitzki is shooting the ball better than he has ever shot it in his career. The 2006-2007 season, the year he won the MVP, had Nowitzki's highest field goal percentage and true shooting percentage (TS%). The TS% is a measurement of shooting efficiency that takes into account two-point field goals, three-point field goals and free throws. He had a field goal percentage of 50.2% and TS% of 60.5% in 2006-2007. Currently, his shooting numbers are trending to outdo the 2006-2007 numbers as he has a field goal percentage of 52.6% and TS% of 62.2%. The face of the franchise shares the belief that the team will stand pat going into Thursday's trade deadline. "Mark and Donnie (Nelson) have always done a good job looking to make this organization better and the team better," Nowitzki said. "I'm sure they're gonna look, but I think for the first time, we feel healthy. We look like we're playing well. We feel like we're deep. We're veterans. We're experienced. I think we can take anybody on." The confidence is not just bravado, it is a cold, hard fact. During the season, they have beaten the Lakers, Heat (twice), Magic, Celtics (twice) and Spurs. That means they have shown that they have shown the ability to beat all of the good teams in the league.

Along the way, the health situation has gotten stronger and the team just has to hope that they can maintain their health heading into the playoffs. On Friday, Rick Carlisle was interviewed by Galloway and Company on 103.3 FM ESPN Radio and he said that he believes it will take Rodrigue Beaubois until April for him to get 100% right in terms of conditioning and feeling totally comfortable within the system. He also mentioned that Beaubois did suffer a second fracture in his foot. Many believe that Beaubois, himself, resembles a trade in the sense you are trying to incorporate a new player late in the season and he can make a dramatic difference on the roster. The Mavs have the benefit of having that "trade" lack a grace period where the incoming player needs to learn the system he is coming in to.

Taking that all into account, do the Mavericks make a trade? Signs would suggest that a blockbuster deal is pretty much off of the table unless something radically changes in Denver with Carmelo Anthony. The need for a consistent scorer to take the scoring load off of Nowitzki is still in play, but there are not many guys out there who are an obvious upgrade over Beaubois, especially not when you consider the price. If you look for a defender who could bring some offense to the equation, Tayshaun Prince continues to be a piece that makes sense for the Mavericks. With the sale of the Pistons still a work in progress, Detroit is not in position to take back major payroll in exchange for Prince. A package from Dallas probably will not be the best offer Detroit will see when it comes to unloading Prince. Dallas could very well may be the victims of circumstance in that there just is not anything they can do given their actual assets and the market. If that's the case, trading just for the sake of trading does not make any sense from their perspective. The team would much rather take their chances with what they have. There is no reason to be excessively desperate as they have in the past.

If the Mavericks stand pat on Thursday, that does not mean they are done making additions to their roster. Buyouts are an option as teams just want to wash their hands of certain players. At this point, it is tough to gauge whether or not there will be a lot of buyouts. Teams were looking to shed as much as salary as they could in preparation for last season's super crop of free agents. It is possible they might do the same to prepare for what could happen with the new Collective-Bargaining Agreement. One player that could be worth watching would be Corey Brewer of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Brewer has no future in Minnesota so it makes sense to move him or cut ties with him now. One could doubt why the Mavs would be interested in him if he had a hard time establishing himself while getting big minutes on a losing team. The reason a team like Dallas would be interested is because he's only 24 and does solid work on the defensive end of the floor. If Brewer is bought out, it would need to happen before March 1. Per the CBA, players waived after that date are ineligible for a playoff roster. He is a player worth keeping an eye on.

Again, it will really depend on if the Mavericks see the need to trade Butler and his expiring contract. Either way, Butler understands what goes on during the coming week. "Anything can happen, and I understand the business,'' Butler said. "I'll be a free agent this summer and obviously I'd love to come back here and play many a year because I feel like the window of opportunity for winning titles has definitely come for this organization. So we'll see what happens. I'm a proven winner in this league who can be pretty effective out there. I know that will come. I got a hell of a resume.''

Thursday is one of the most exciting days in the NBA based on the fact that just about anything can happen. The Mavericks have always been known as movers and shakers on deadline day. This year could be the first year in a while that the Mavericks sit on the sidelines. If so, that might not necessarily be a bad thing.


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