This year's NBA trade activity started up a little early, as with Thursday's deadline looming, several small moves happened Tuesday. Tobias Harris has been shipped off to Detroit, and Courtney Lee has left Memphis to play for the Charlotte Hornets and perhaps helped the Mavs chance at stealing the fifth seed in the West.
The Dallas Mavericks do not have a cellar-full of trade assets, as has been noted on this site numerous times, so their chances of joining in on the fray aren't spectacular. But hey, that's no fun. What's the point of trade season if you can't make wild unsubstantiated speculation?! And besides: Mark Cuban said Tuesday morning that the Mavericks were "trying to be" active, so it's not completely without merit.
With that as our motto, let's consider where Dallas could make some upgrades in smaller, under-the-radar moves to help a late push up the standings. The Mavericks are mostly settled at every starting position, and for the first time in a while, their bench seems to be the team's biggest weakness. Gone are the days where Dallas can run out former stars in sixth man roles like Vince Carter, Jerry Stackhouse, Amare Stoudemire, or the Headbanded One, Jason Terry.
The only guys who seem to be trusted by coach Rick Carlisle off the bench are the pair of point-guards, J.J. Barea and Raymond Felton. The big man rotation of Dwight Powell, JaVale McGee and Salah Mejri is highly matchup-dependant, and Charlie Villanueva has all but shot himself out of a job. Meanwhile, the wing group is most barren of all. Justin Anderson is a rookie, and while most fans are likely clamoring for him to get more time on the floor, the truth is he hasn't played particularly well so far. Preseason standouts John Jenkins and Jeremy Evans appear to be one-trick ponies (not the Dirk kind, unfortunately) and may be developing back injuries from the permanent sitting position they've endured while in Dallas.
So, is there a wing out there that Dallas might be able to add to the mix? Later in the week, we'll look around at potential buyout candidates, some of who might appear on this same list. Right now, let's just look at a few trade options.
Third-year guard Ben McLemore is apparently working with the Kings to find a new home. Since being taken No. 7 overall in the 2013 draft, the former Kansas star has struggled to live up to that billing, and it is unclear what exactly his trade value is. The Kings are maybe the league's most unpredictable team, with a front office that could be accurately described as "confused", so they may be asking for the moon ... or maybe just for an extra copy of Moon, starring Sam Rockwell. Maybe not even a Blu-Ray, but just a regular DVD with no special features. Who knows.
McLemore has yet to post a PER of 11 in a season, but he has managed to increase his FG% and 3P% in each of his three campaigns. Athletically, he has the tools to be a quality defender, as well, making him a potential elite 3-and-D candidate down the line. He just turned 23 last week, as well. That fact, along with his draft pedigree, likely makes him slightly out of the Mavs' price range, but if someone in the Kings organization has an interest in Stanford product Dwight Powell, perhaps a minor package around him could be built.
LOU WILLIAMS OR NICK YOUNG
I'm grouping the pair of Lakers together for convenience's sake. Drew Garrison tweeted us this recently, suggesting a possible LouWill deal. I doubt the Mavs would trade Justin Anderson in such a move, but Williams is one of the better bench pieces on the market right now. The biggest problem is that both Williams and Young have deals that go not just next year but through 2017-18, with Williams' salary at $7 million and Young's over $5 mil. That is probably more longterm salary than the Mavs want to take back, with the cap spike looming and Dallas looking at having to potentially resign Chandler Parsons, Dirk Nowitzki and Deron Williams.
Young is cheaper, and unlike LouWill his third year has a player option. According to reports, he is available. Would Felton for Young straight up work? Would Rick Carlisle tolerate Swaggy P's shot selection and matador defense? Maybe not.
The Pacers may be shopping the 6'7 swingman, who has not played well in Indiana and really has struggled since knee injuries slowed him down a few years ago. At one time Budinger was looking like he might finally to put it all together as a sweet-shooting small forward, but much like his career at Arizona, Budinger started fast only to stagnate and eventually regress. Still, he's been a solid catch-and-shoot option at the NBA level, and his deal expires after this season. He might be worth a gamble to see if he can get things back on track in Dallas. With Rodney Stuckey still sidelined, the Pacers might have use of Raymond Felton's point skills, as well. If he doesn't perform, you simply move on.
Like Lou Williams, he's probably a little too expensive (owed just over $7 million this year and next), but Kevin Martin has been a long-rumored favorite of the Dallas front office, and he makes a lot of sense as a possible instant offense candidate who could follow in the footsteps of the Stackhouses and Carters of the world and extend his career a few years coming off the Maverick bench. Martin can be a devastating off-ball player with his ability to spot-up, shoot off screens, or make well-timed cuts to the basket. He is also in the Dirk-Parsons class of pumpfake artists, and he compensates for his low shooting percentages by getting to the line a lot. Like most of the guys on this list, he's having a down year, but I could definitely see him rebound in Dallas. Ultimately, he may not be a realistic trade target, but should he be bought out, watch Dallas snatch him up.