MAVS TRADE RUMOR TRAFFIC

What do ‘Melo and LeBron and tonight's foes the Mavs and the Cavs all have to do with each other? Let's update ...



A MELO-MAVS UPDATE; RE-EXAMINING A MAVS-CAVS TRADE IDEA - by D-Lord and Fish, 845a 2/7/11

What do ‘Melo and LeBron and tonight's foes the Mavs and the Cavs all have to do with each other? We update our thoughts and offer for your review the detailed breakdowns, smaller realities and likely Dallas trade partners - which involves the Mavs sending somebody to Cleveland. It's Mavs Trade Rumor Traffic. …

Last week, with the Mavs in New York, Mark Cuban was asked about "Rent-a-Melo.''

"Yeah, in a heartbeat,'' Cuban said of his willingness to pursue such a deal. "Because then it's up to me to try to convince them to stay. If anybody wants to give (away) a great player, we're always going to try to be opportunistic. … I can't talk about other teams' players, but I'm always trying to be opportunistic. If someone wanted to offer me a perennial All-Star for a second-round pick, I'm going to say ‘yes.'''

Opportunistic. And simplistic. We've known for months about Dallas' willingness to Rent-a-Melo, and if you are a Mavs Premium Member, you are clearly smart enough to realize that this has nothing to do with "being offered a perennial All-Star for a second-round pick.''

But the headline quota is filled.

Now can we get to some more subtle and intricate thoughts?

First, an updated consideration on the new view from Denver that maybe the Nuggets should continue to play hardball, even if that means ending up not trading 'Melo before the Feb. 24 deadline and then losing him for next to nothing this summer:

Smile

That sort of sparkling hardball thinking has been done before. With LeBron James. In Cleveland. And what it earned the Cavs is an embarrassing record number of consecutive losses, 24 straight coming into tonight's game at Dallas.

There remains a very big deal for the Nuggets to be made. Denver's youthful management team simply needs the chest hair to make it ... or be prepared to deal with a post-'Melo Nuggets franchise that has a chance in ensuing seasons to look a bit like Cleveland looks now.

Chris Broussard reports that there is another deal to be made, with the Knicks, Anthony's preferred destination. In the rumored deal, the Knicks would send Wilson Chandler to Denver as well as Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry to Minnesota. The Wolves would send Corey Brewer and a first-round pick to Denver.

This isn't close to what Denver has been asking for, obviously. It's a little cap space an an attractive lottery pick.

Can't Dallas do better?

The Mavs, of course, are prepared to offer much, much more (even if to just rent Anthony for the spring before he goes free). There is no "lottery-level'' player available from Dallas, which is something the Nuggets have always desired. But there is Roddy Beaubois, there is cap relief, there is cash, there are picks (Scroll down for breakdowns on how to do this, from three-ways with Sacramento to "kitchen-sink'' swaps straight with Denver) ... which leaves us back where we started in August when DB.com first wrote about Dallas-Denver talks.

Denver is reluctant to deal within the conference, the idea being that the young Denver bosses don't want to see 'Melo haunting them the next decade in a Western uniform.

One fresh consideration there: Hey, Nuggets! If Dallas is only going to RENT Melo for the spring before he bolts for NY, he WON'T haunt you in the West playoff chase for the next decade! He'll be gone in three months!

While Mavs management reminds Denver of that line of thinking ...

Let's re-examine the smaller deal ... And return our thoughts to the team in town today, Cleveland ... There's one team that seems to have a lot of the right players that fit the Mavs' assets. The right salary amounts. Possible talent fits at the right positions. And it's all on a team that's in the basement and presumably ready for a fire sale.

Cleveland.

We're hearing no whispers that point in this direction, so nothing may come of it. But the match is just right, the players are just right, and it's all too neat to ignore.

With their existing trade exceptions, the Mavs could take back players for up to $4.4M and $3.1M for nothing more than a pick or cash. With Butler's expiring, they could take back a player or players whose contracts total up to $13.3M. Lay those trade chips next to the veterans on the Cavs roster that might enhance this Mavs team, and it gets intriguing.

And don't forget that Cleveland has that huge $14M+ trade exception, which could work wonders in a Dallas deal with Denver for Melo or Nene (we can think big, but with real details!) or in another big-money deal for the Mavs.

Spit-balling ideas, there are a ton here that are intriguing in various ways, and if you like playing with possibilities, the "seems very possible" ideas spiral everywhere. The ones that look the most promising to us include:

  • Butler's expiring would be enough to match scoring forward Antawn Jamison. Not sure I'd want him, but he plays a position of need for Dallas, he can score, and since he has a bloated contract, the Mavs might be able to get Cleveland to offer something strong in addition, in order to move him off their payroll
  • PG Ramon Sessions ($4M) fits in the Mavs bigger TE and fits an area of need already noted. Either SF Jamario Moon or SG Anthony Parker would fit in the Mavs $3M TE, as would center Ryan Hollins, an ex-Mav.
  • Since Cleveland has no center to speak of on their roster, would both teams have an interest in Haywood going to the Cavs?
  • The idea of the Mavs pursuing the energy of Anderson Varejao was quite appealing earlier in the season, but his season-ending injury has taken him completely off our wish list. This is a win-now trade time. … But that leaves plenty that remain on the list.

Now, if numbers and trade angles give you a headache, read no further. And let's admit up front that what follows violates some of our own core axioms of trade possibilities, including 1) the more teams involved, the less likely the deal, and 2) the more complicated, the less likely the deal. So typically we try to keep ideas like these out of print.

This time is an exception, because we have a point to make.

If the Mavs and Cleveland want to make trade waves, their asset fit could lead to some very interesting shopping possibilities.

It would start with Haywood being swapped for Sessions and Parker, as a straight 2-for-1. (It could be Hollins or Moon rather than Parker, if desired.) On paper, it looks like a simple salary match, with Haywood's $6.9M almost exactly the same as the Sessions-Parker total of $6.82M. But this trade would merely be agreed to by Dallas and the Cavs, not done as a stand-alone deal.

Then we'd roll it into and make it a part of another trade, because we can use a similar concept as explained below in the Butler-to-Sacramento idea earlier. In this one, in the dealings with the Cavs, the Mavs would be taking Sessions salary using one TE and Parker's using another, with the salary being sent away in Haywood's contract left unneeded and unused to take any players from Cleveland.

But that unused salary wouldn't go to waste. It could then be used to take back up to $8.72M in salary somewhere else in the same deal (even if the player comes from a different team). So the Mavs could try to find Sammy Shooter or Freddy Forward that another team wants to let go of, and if his salary was $8.72M or less and the other team wanted some salary reduction, he could be shipped to Dallas for nothing more than a pick, for example.

Taking it one step further, you could even piggyback this onto the Butler-to-Sacramento idea involving Denver. If the Mavs sent Butler-Jones to Sacramento, Beaubois-Mahinmi to Denver, and added Haywood to Cleveland as we've outlined, they'd have room to take back almost $26M from the Nuggets, which could include Melo, Harrington, and Balkman while reducing the Nuggets' cap and tax by almost $24M. Add in Stevenson to go to Denver, and then there's room to take Melo, Nene, and Balkman.

Smile

Of course Denver wouldn't be the only place such a deal could be targeted. However, the payroll hit to the Mavs would be sizable in both the short and long run, so it's unlikely Cuban would foot such a bill without incredibly attractive trade targets like Melo and Nene coming in return. But could such availability unlock unexpected possibilities?

Likely? Probably not at all. But that's a road map to a huge deal idea featuring big money swings – all available in a climate where teams might be running from money with a new CBA ahead.

There are extensive possibilities. And while the Mavs try to do some high-profile persuading about ‘Melo with Denver, there are doors to other entryways, very impactful moves and subtle dealings … that go through places like Cleveland that tonight comes through Dallas.


WOULD TAYSHAUN'S NUMBERS IN DALLAS EXCEED CARON'S NUMBERS? - by Kevin Brolan and Mike Fisher 344p 2/4/11

DB.com is being told that Tayshaun Prince remains near the top of the Mavs' trade-deadline wish list (regardless of pronouncements from Detroit regarding his ‘unavailability'). Among the judgments to be made: Would a swapping of Caron Butler's expiring for Tayshaun mean that Prince would adequately replace Caron in the Dallas lineup? Let's make some judgments inside the Mavs Trade Rumor Traffic. …

Smile

The injured Caron Butler's $10.6-million expiring deal is the centerpiece of every conversation Dallas is having regarding a "major'' trade. The goal: Attempt to make a trade that would return the quality of the Mavs roster to where it was before Caron's injury (and where it was was 24-5)… and to use the Butler as the piece to do it.

Would Tayshaun Prince accomplish that?

Prince is also an expiring contract (worth $11.1 million), might be available without paying "blockbuster prices'' (that is, bloated additional contracts that hamstring Dallas in the future) and, we've theorized, has a skill set that can match Butler's overall effectiveness.

Let's go about proving that.

Our friend Marc Stein's ESPN tweet that the Pistons are "putting out word they don't want to deal Prince by the Feb. 24 deadline" is immaterial to the Mavs except in the sense that it sounds like a negotiating tactic. We've established that Detroit might want to retain Prince as a mentor during its rebuilding period. But "putting out word'' on Feb. 3 about what you plan to NOT do on Feb. 24?

A negotiating tactic.

So let's move forward.

Prince's defensive credentials (he's a four-time All-NBA Defender second-team) cannot be questioned. As we've written, what they say about Prince is, "He knows where he's supposed to be and he knows where his opponent is supposed to be.'' Prince was a stopper on a championship team and can still be a lockdown individual defender. He's smart enough to fit into any defensive scheme and excel.

Offensively is where the Tayshaun/Caron comparison gets a little fuzzy. Let's review with 2010 statistics per 36 minutes.

General Offensive Statistics :

Caron Butler Tayshaun Prince

PPG 18.1 15.6

RPG 4.9 4.9

SPG 0.3 0.3

BPG 0.7 0.7

3P% (career) 31.9% 37.0%

What this means: Just looking at these basic per 36 numbers, Caron is a better piece. Obviously there is more to it, which is why GMs don't make personnel decisions based on looking at the back of trading cards. Although Caron has a better 3-point percentage this season, Prince owns that advantage over their careers by quite a ways. With this plus the basic Eye Test though, Caron gets the nod.

Edge: Butler

Shot Selection :

Caron Butler Tayshaun Prince

FGA 15.7 13.9

FG% 45% 48%

% shots as jumper 84% 70%

% shots near basket 14% 25%

% shots as dunk 2% 4%

% shots as tip-in 1% 1%

What this means : Prince is shooting a better field-goal percentage than Caron for an obvious reason… he shoots closer to the rim. You know why they call shots closer to the basket "high-percentage shots''? Because they have a better chance of going in. Prince gives himself better odds by shooting closer. He also plays more minutes, but takes fewer shots. This depends on a few factors, but it's most likely because he just gets fewer plays called for him in Detroit's offense. When Caron was healthy, he would get a bulk of the Dallas offense called for him while Dirk was out. The dunk numbers are slightly in the corner of Prince, but not enough to make a big difference. Efficiency is in Prince's favor, although it's not totally clear how an increased workload would affect him.

Edge: Slightly Prince

Decision Making :

Caron Butler Tayshaun Prince

USG% 25.6% 21.2%

AST 1.9 3.1

TO 2.0 1.3

TOV% 10.5% 7.8%

PER 15.9 14.5

What this means : Caron has a higher usage rate (percentage of team involvement), but when evened out he averaged over three more turnovers per 100 possessions. Tayshaun averages over an assist more per 36 minutes than Caron which we feel is an indictment to his basketball IQ. Many will argue that Caron's stats slipped when he came to Dallas due to a lower usage rate, and while that may be true to an extent, Caron hasn't averaged at least 3.1 assists since 2008-09. He also only averaged 2.1 dimes with Washington last year. Additionally, the Pistons play at a slower pace, averaging nearly four possessions less than the Mavericks per game.

Edge: Prince

Clutch Situations : (5 minutes or less in 4th quarter and overtime, game within 5 points)

Butler Prince

% of clutch min. played 46% 95%

FG% 60.0% 51.4%

FGA per 48 clutch min 7.1 17.6

PTS per 48 clutch min 18.5 20.4

FT per 48 clutch min 10.0 4.8

What this means: These are tough statistics to decipher due to Caron's lack of minutes during clutch play. When Caron was healthy, coach Rick Carlisle opted for Shawn Marion at SF the majority of the time down the stretch. If the Mavs were losing, he would even opt for a three-guard lineup over Caron at times. Butler has good clutch numbers, though, and it's clear he can get to the line in this limited sample. Tayshaun has extensive work in clutch situations during his career so you'd have to consider him over Caron since Dirk or Jet would be taking most of the shots anyway. Perhaps even over a player like Marion. But since Caron's resume is incomplete, a call can't be made.

Edge: Push

Intangibles :

Caron Butler Tayshaun Prince

Hands Rating 9.0 16.6

What this means : Hands rating is a combination of turnovers that includes offensive fouls, bad passes, ball-handling turnovers, fumbling the ball away, and other turnovers (traveling, stepping out of bounds, etc.) As a point of reference, Shawn Marion had a 6.7 hands rating. Basically, it takes into account how often a player will make a silly mistake. These numbers translate to Prince playing much more mistake-free than Caron over the same period of time.

Edge: Prince

Chemistry : Tayshaun has almost always been a good soldier despite the direction of the Pistons. Even though he has what seems like a legitimate gripe, we have to take into consideration the idea that he has finally "checked out" of his situation in Detroit. Caron is like a brother to a lot of the guys in Dallas. The cohesion of the team was at an all-time high before he went down. You always hear about the toughness Tuff Juice bring to the table and that cannot be discounted.

Oh, and then there is projected chemistry: Would anybody in the Dallas locker room fail to understand the business decision of trading Caron? We hope not.

Would Tayshaun, who turns 31 this month, be embraced in Dallas? Prince's first NBA coach was Carlisle, and when Tayshaun was a superstar high-school player at Dominguez High School in Compton, Calif., he had a 14-year-old freshman teammate by the name of Tyson Chandler.

Edge: Butler

Verdict : Close enough that you can make the call here yourself … and you can lean whichever way you wish if you care to count "intangibles'' like:

The Mavs are in the playoffs against the Lakers, Game 6 in Dallas, Mavs are up in the series 3-2, and if they lose they have to go back to LA for Game 7. The Mavs are up 97-96, one possession left for the Lakers, who do you want guarding Kobe Bryant?

If you can pull a trade so that your "clutch" defensive lineup is Kidd-Prince-Marion-Dirk-Chandler (or some combination to that effect), do you do it based on that thinking?

Or, is Tayshaun-as-a-Mav good enough to help the Mavs ever be in that above situation in the first place?

We haven't pieced together exact how a Caron-for-Tayshaun swap might go down in terms of additional pieces, but here's nuggets to play with:

1. Another network reporter this week relayed that "Dallas can't get Tayshaun because Detroit can't take on salaries.'' Respectfully, that demonstrates a lack of understanding for what has been/will be discussed. Dallas won't ask Detroit to "take on salaries''; it will likely be the other way around.

2. An idea: The Mavs send out Caron Butler (expiring at $10.6 million) + DeShawn Stevenson (expiring at $4.2 million) + a grab-bag of picks/cash. Coming back, Tayshaun (expiring at 11.1 million) + Jason Maxiell (this year and two more years at $5 million each).

3. A problem: DB.com is being told that there are those in the Mavs personnel dept. who are not at all enamored with Maxiell at that price. (Or maybe at most any price.)

Smile

So there's the "bloated contract'' that might send these sort of talks back to the drawing board, a drawing board that begins with a simple question:

Would Tayshaun Prince be a Caron-level replacement for Butler?

At the right price, the Mavs believe so.

Armed with the above stats, now you can form your own more educated opinion.






CUBAN'S MELODRAMA IN NY; A MORE SUBTLE TRADE PATH THROUGH CLEVELAND - by David Lord and Mike Fisher - 1242p 2/3/11

Want loud headlines? Send Mark Cuban to New York and let him hold ‘Melodramatic press conferences. Want detailed breakdowns, smaller realities and likely trade partners? That involves the Mavs sending somebody to Cleveland. Come inside for our thoughts on Cuban's big ‘Melo-to-the-Mavs talk … and then a less noisy idea …

One problem with trades is finding a fit not only in terms of needs but also in terms of the assets the Dallas Mavericks have to use. The ideal player might seem available, but that "just right" mix that matches both player talent and the right amount of salary in return is not there. In addition, some teams who do have players that fit, might not be interested in trading because they feel they have a chance to have a good season and want to win. That takes even more possibilities out of the mix.

These are some of the complexities involved. Frankly, not all observers are interested in complexities.

They just want to ask the same questions and get the same answers in order to fill headline quotas.

So with the Mavs in New York on Thursday, Mark Cuban was asked about "Rent-a-Melo.''

"Yeah, in a heartbeat,'' Cuban said of his willingness to pursue such a deal. "Because then it's up to me to try to convince them to stay. If anybody wants to give (away) a great player, we're always going to try to be opportunistic. … I can't talk about other teams' players, but I'm always trying to be opportunistic. If someone wanted to offer me a perennial All-Star for a second-round pick, I'm going to say ‘yes.'''

Opportunistic. And simplistic. We've known for months about Dallas' willingness to Rent-a-Melo, and if you are a Mavs Premium Member, you are clearly smart enough to realize that this has nothing to do with "being offered a perennial All-Star for a second-round pick.''

But the headline quota is filled.

Now can we get to some more subtle and intricate thoughts?

There's one team that seems to have a lot of the right players that fit the Mavs' assets. The right salary amounts. Possible talent fits at the right positions. And it's all on a team that's in the basement and presumably ready for a fire sale.

Cleveland.

We're hearing no whispers that point in this direction, so nothing may come of it. But the match is just right, the players are just right, and it's all too neat to ignore.

With their existing trade exceptions, the Mavs could take back players for up to $4.4M and $3.1M for nothing more than a pick or cash. With Butler's expiring, they could take back a player or players whose contracts total up to $13.3M. Lay those trade chips next to the veterans on the Cavs roster that might enhance this Mavs team, and it gets intriguing.

And don't forget that Cleveland has that huge $14M+ trade exception, which could work wonders in a Dallas deal with Denver for Melo or Nene (we can think big, but with real details!) or in another big-money deal for the Mavs.

Spit-balling ideas, there are a ton here that are intriguing in various ways, and if you like playing with possibilities, the "seems very possible" ideas spiral everywhere. The ones that look the most promising to us include:

  • Butler's expiring would be enough to match scoring forward Antawn Jamison. Not sure I'd want him, but he plays a position of need for Dallas, he can score, and since he has a bloated contract, the Mavs might be able to get Cleveland to offer something strong in addition, in order to move him off their payroll
  • PG Ramon Sessions ($4M) fits in the Mavs bigger TE and fits an area of need already noted. Either SF Jamario Moon or SG Anthony Parker would fit in the Mavs $3M TE, as would center Ryan Hollins, an ex-Mav.
  • Since Cleveland has no center to speak of on their roster, would both teams have an interest in Haywood going to the Cavs?
  • The idea of the Mavs pursuing the energy of Anderson Varejao was quite appealing earlier in the season, but his season-ending injury has taken him completely off our wish list. This is a win-now trade time. … But that leaves plenty that remain on the list.

Now, if numbers and trade angles give you a headache, read no further. And let's admit up front that what follows violates some of our own core axioms of trade possibilities, including 1) the more teams involved, the less likely the deal, and 2) the more complicated, the less likely the deal. So typically we try to keep ideas like these out of print.

This time is an exception, because we have a point to make.

If the Mavs and Cleveland want to make trade waves, their asset fit could lead to some very interesting shopping possibilities.

It would start with Haywood being swapped for Sessions and Parker, as a straight 2-for-1. (It could be Hollins or Moon rather than Parker, if desired.) On paper, it looks like a simple salary match, with Haywood's $6.9M almost exactly the same as the Sessions-Parker total of $6.82M. But this trade would merely be agreed to by Dallas and the Cavs, not done as a stand-alone deal.

Then we'd roll it into and make it a part of another trade, because we can use a similar concept as explained below in the Butler-to-Sacramento idea earlier. In this one, in the dealings with the Cavs, the Mavs would be taking Sessions salary using one TE and Parker's using another, with the salary being sent away in Haywood's contract left unneeded and unused to take any players from Cleveland.

But that unused salary wouldn't go to waste. It could then be used to take back up to $8.72M in salary somewhere else in the same deal (even if the player comes from a different team). So the Mavs could try to find Sammy Shooter or Freddy Forward that another team wants to let go of, and if his salary was $8.72M or less and the other team wanted some salary reduction, he could be shipped to Dallas for nothing more than a pick, for example.

Taking it one step further, you could even piggyback this onto the Butler-to-Sacramento idea involving Denver. If the Mavs sent Butler-Jones to Sacramento, Beaubois-Mahinmi to Denver, and added Haywood to Cleveland as we've outlined, they'd have room to take back almost $26M from the Nuggets, which could include Melo, Harrington, and Balkman while reducing the Nuggets' cap and tax by almost $24M. Add in Stevenson to go to Denver, and then there's room to take Melo, Nene, and Balkman.

Of course Denver wouldn't be the only place such a deal could be targeted. However, the payroll hit to the Mavs would be sizable in both the short and long run, so it's unlikely Cuban would foot such a bill without incredibly attractive trade targets like Melo and Nene coming in return. But could such availability unlock unexpected possibilities?

Likely? Probably not at all. But that's a road map to a huge deal idea featuring big money swings – all available in a climate where teams might be running from money with a new CBA ahead.

There are extensive possibilities. And while Mark Cuban is holding high-profile press conferences about ‘Melo in New York, there are doors to other entryways, very impactful moves and subtle dealings … that go through places like Cleveland.







MAVS TRADE RUMOR TRAFFIC: COUNTDOWN TO THE DEADLINE, DB.COM STYLE - By David Lord, 10a 2/2/11

The Mavs enter the NBA trade deadline gauntlet. Who's most likely on the Mavs short list and why? Which teams are most likely to pop up in rumors? How can Caron can be used in a 3-way deal for Melo or others? We give you specifics to keep an eye on in this Mavs Trade Rumor Traffic primer.

For Premium members, this week we are introducing a new must-read feature to help you keep track of all the Mavs' trade rumors and possibilities in one place in the weeks before the NBA's trade deadline.

Mavs' Trade Rumor Traffic will be a continuous-update column. In it, we'll gather the trade-related news, notes, and rumors that we consider to be relevant to the Mavs, and Fish and D-Lord and The 75-Member Staff will also offer our own quick takes on those items as we go.

To lay the groundwork, here's our quick analysis of the trade landscape for the Mavs in Q&A style.

What's the most under-recognized issue that will color trade talks for the Mavs over the next few weeks?

Underline one concept: the upcoming CBA is of real concern for the Mavs. Every idea will be weighed against all the what-if's created by those upcoming negotiations.

(We've seen quotes from Cuban and Donnie that suggest something to the contrary. Those quotes are for public consumption. We're dealing with in-house realities here.)

We don't mean to imply the Mavs (or anyone else) are expecting a hard cap. Instead, the problem is the unknown. The last time there was a change in the CBA, it brought a much harsher tax and created incentives that compelled the Mavs to pay $50 million to Michael Finley while watching him go play with the rival Spurs. This time we could see lower salary-cap limits and harsher luxury-tax penalties, the elimination of Bird rights or various other cap exceptions (like the MLE) and so on. Or, we could see something that looks almost exactly like what we have now. No one knows.

As a result, the Mavs will probably have high demands for any deal that ramps up their future payroll and might make it tough for them to cope with whatever they are handed in the new CBA. Look for an opportunistic approach, rather than a blind "ignore the costs" aggressiveness, balanced by a willingness to take a risk on any deal where they feel the reward might significantly improve their chance to win a title.

The Mavs aren't alone in this concern over the new CBA's uncertainties. It's league-wide.

What do the Mavs need to target in trade talks?

The Mavs depth chart (not starting lineup) currently looks like this:

C – Chandler, Haywood, Mahinmi

PF – Nowitzki, (Marion), (Cardinal), (Mahinmi), (Stojakovic)

SF – Marion, Cardinal, Stojakovic, (Stevenson), Butler

SG – Stevenson, Terry, Beaubois, (Jones)

PG – Kidd, Barea, Jones, (Beaubois)

It's easy to see that there's a glaring need for better depth at forward. Coping with the loss of Butler has presented problems. Cardinal provides respectable veteran minutes and Peja might add even more once healthy, but neither is a sure thing to be a playoff factor. Stevenson is undersized when playing there, and using him with that handicap has seemed to lessen his freshness and effectiveness when he is back at SG.

Here's Fish getting DeShawn's own thoughts on the matter:



He's a good soldier. But we insist it's less than ideal. And we caution that even one more injury at forward would make things quite challenging.

If everything went just right, the Mavs might have enough. Dirk & Marion, backed by minutes from Cardinal and Peja, theoretically can provide enough quality forward minutes between the four of them, with Stevenson staying at SG. But that's risky.

Smile

Another area that I believe needs addressing is backup point guard. JJ Barea is a try-hard guy who clearly provides a spark at times, and is well-liked by coaches and teammates alike. But his lack of size and length always will create issues on defense, and he's often overused because of the lack of viable alternatives at PG. Jason Kidd is not young and needs to be fresh for the playoffs, so Carlisle has been forced each game to choose between the lesser of two evils: too much Kidd (eroding the team's playoff chances), or too much Barea (reducing the team's chances for a win). Some games the play from Barea is good enough to do the trick, but far too often it's a tightrope to walk. And if either was injured?

Presumably the original plan was to fill some of those minutes with play by injured youngster Roddy Beaubois. But is that still viable? Can he be depended on, given the track record of his recuperation? Even if he's ready soon, is it going to be too late for Kidd to be fresh when the playoffs arrive?

Unless there's significant progress on the Roddy B front in a week or so, we think another playable PG, who can reduce the dependence on BOTH Kidd and Barea, should be high on the priority list.

The other area of need – and the one that needs to be overlaid on the positional needs – is a need for added offense. Indeed, this is part of the reason the Mavs keep overusing Barea – he adds some offensive spark. Any changes need to address this need somehow.

So if it's a need at PF/SF, at backup PG, and on offense, which trade targets do you prefer?

Our solutions to those needs above? If I'm Donnie Nelson, Carmelo Anthony in a Mavs uniform with a long-term extension would be the Holy Grail of trades, because he'd solve multiple needs all by himself. Unfortunately the Mavs' chances at landing him still trail those of several other teams as Denver prefers to look elsewhere so far. But he's unlikely to go anywhere until the very last minute, so there's still plenty of time to make a run.

If not Melo? I'd look at Nene, who might want out of Denver if Melo goes, and would make sense in a C/PF rotation that also included Chandler and Dirk. Kevin Martin piques my interest because he's so skilled offensively, yet so one-dimensional and playing on a going-nowhere team – it seems like the perfect launching pad for a move to a contender that will allow Houston to jettison salary and amass assets for the future. And I still like a move for Ramon Sessions, who impresses me as the right mix of backup PG, scoring spark, and potential availability that could complement the Mavs situation.

Are any of those easily gettable at a price that would interest the Mavs? Here's hoping.

That's the wish list - but what are the Mavs most likely to do?

Unfortunately, I can definitely envision the Mavs rolling the dice on health at forward, hoping to get by with Cardinal and Peja as the backups that allow Dirk and Marion to get rested. I can see them hoping Roddy B and Peja get healthy and provide plenty of scoring punch to take the team to the next level on offense. And I can see them designating Roddy as the solution to reduce the dependence on both Kidd and Barea.

In other words, doing nothing.

Would that work, if all those things happened just right? Yep. Is there a strong chance that all those things will fall right into place? That's way too many "if's'' for me – altogether it becomes a huge gamble that all falls apart with a single injury almost anywhere.

But while it's taking a lot of risk on this season, it's a low-risk plan financially. Because of that, in light of the uncertainty in the CBA ahead, my sense is that they are looking for any glimmer of promise that will allow them to take that direction.

My big issue is this: with the emergence of Chandler as a major force alongside Dirk, and Marion/Kidd/Jet there to complement them, is this the season you want to risk to save a few dollars? Opportunity doesn't sit in front of you as often as you think it will … if we look back, the 2006 Finals ended with the Mavs convinced they were poised for lots of return trips to get past that final hurdle in the next few seasons.

If Denver invites the Mavs to trade talks for Melo or Nene, what could be the key that unlocks that opportunity for the Mavs to land one or the other? And how does that relate to the four teams most likely to be mentioned in multiple trade rumors near the deadline?

To get into the mix with Denver, and perhaps with any other big deadline deal, the Mavs (and other teams) will probably get very cozy with Sacramento, Minnesota, Cleveland, and Toronto. Look for each of those teams to be included in numerous (and perhaps seemingly odd) trade rumors in the next few weeks.

Why? Because each of those teams has the ability to absorb a massive amount of salary in a trade without sending any back, and the quirks of the NBA trade rules allow them to enter a trade as a 3rd party merely to absorb salary (at a price, of course). Sacramento and Minnesota are so far under the cap that they can take 13M-ish in salary without sending any back, and Cleveland and Toronto have trade exceptions allowing them to take over 14M in salary with no return.

How would that work in a big trade?

Here's a barebones example of how it could work for the Mavs in a trade with Denver for Melo.

Smile

The Nuggets send Melo to Dallas. For the Mavs to accept his $17.15M salary on their payroll, they would be required to send away $13.64M or more in the same trade – to someone. But that someone doesn't have to be Denver, if another team is able and willing to take some or all of the required salary.

So instead of sending those required players with that salary to Denver, they enlist the help of Sacramento in the deal. They send Butler and Jones to the Kings (total $11.67M) along with $3M cash to pay almost all of Caron's remaining salary for the year, and send Beaubois and Mahinmi (total $2.04M) to Denver along with a whole slew of picks.The Mavs have sent away more than the needed $13.64M, but little of it ended up on Denver's payroll.

In that trade, Sacramento's cap number rises for a couple of months, but their budgeted payroll stays about the same since the Mavs would send them $3M cash to pay almost all of Caron's remaining salary (which would be about $3.5M). The Kings gain Jones as the prize for their help, as well as to compensate them for the bit of extra salary they have to pay Butler. If Jones is worth the $3M Dallas paid for that pick, the Kings come out well ahead in the deal.

Meanwhile, Denver picks up two young exciting players on very modest contracts, to help them build for their future (Roddy B and Mahinmi), along with multiple draft picks to get even more help down the road. But more importantly (and a crucial aspect to any deal for Melo, we believe) is the impact on Denver's league-related financials. This deal would instantly reduce their cap by over $15M, allowing them to save about $5M in payroll for the remainder of the season, and it would also reduce their taxable number by the same amount, so much that they would avoid paying any tax whatsoever (currently they are due to pay in excess of $13M), and also allowing them to collect the (expected) $4M-ish share of collected taxes that goes to each non-taxed team. That's $22M total to Denver for doing this deal, along with the young players and picks.

Does that mean Dallas has the edge over other teams in getting Melo?

Nope -- because Dallas isn't the only team that might be able to figure a way to involve one of those four "able to take your salary" teams.

In fact, in our analysis, the recent rumors of Charlotte's desire to trade SF Gerald Wallace to Cleveland (where Cleveland was offered the opportunity to take him by using their TE) was really part of just such a deal. That offer looked to us like a part of an attempt by the ‘Cats to get Melo to Charlotte, with Wallace-to-Cleveland being their unsuccessful version of the Butler-to-the-Kings angle as explained above.

In part because he had a lot more salary left on his contract in future years, Cleveland put a hefty price on taking Wallace, demanding a #1 pick to take him. That demand apparently ended those talks, but it is a good illustration of the type of trade you might soon see featuring one of the four teams we named (Sacramento, Minnesota, Cleveland, and Toronto).

However, there is one advantage the Mavs might have. Butler's contract is expiring, and his remaining salary at the deadline can almost entirely be offset by the inclusion of the max $3M allowed in a trade. With others, as illustrated by the Wallace attempt by Charlotte, the ability to send that contract without some perceived downside to the recipient might not exist, thus making it harder to get one of the four "able-to-take-your-salary" teams to go along with the idea without added compensation. And if a suitor has to send sizable assets to satisfy both Denver and the salary-taking team, it may make them abandon the quest.

What else might the Mavs do with Butler if he's not used to bring a talented player in return?

With Butler out for the season and a free agent in the summer, trading him for his replacement is one option, but it's not the only one.

The obvious alternative would be to simply choose to keep him, with an eye to re-signing him in the summer or trying to net something in a sign-and-trade at that time. And if they can't find a trade that nets someone worth having, this would seem to be the most likely outcome.

Smile

But with the CBA up in the air, leaving no assurance that they could keep him or that snt's would even be possible, there's another avenue they might pursue. They could trade him in some version of the Butler-to-Sacramento (or to one of the four named teams) deal, but with an eye for their own savings rather than to entice someone else to deal In other words, the result would simply be a money-saving deal for Dallas.

The possible return would be enticing from a financial standpoint. By getting him off their payroll in such a fashion, the Mavs would save almost $11M in tax. For example, if the Mavs have already done their dealing and still have the assets, let's say they send Butler, $3M cash to help pay his salary, and this June's #1 pick to the Kings. Such a deal would in essence be like the Mavs selling their #1 pick for $11M, a princely sum for a pick that they could later replace for $3M. For the Kings, it would be like getting a #1 pick for $500K, an incredible bargain for a pick they could sell for $3M. So both teams would win.

The one thing that could give the Mavs pause would be that with such a trade they would lose the advantage of having Bird rights on Butler in this summer's free agency, if they wanted to have him return for future years.

If there is such a thing as Bird rights in the new CBA, of course.

Is aligning a deal with one of those money-saving teams the only promising angle the Mavs have to work a trade?

Nope. For the right player, the Mavs might have a great opportunity to take advantage of some trade exceptions of their own. They have one for $4.3M, another for $3M, and some smaller ones. They can't be combined, but they can be used to acquire players that another team is willing to let go of for the savings.

Smile

Consider Ramon Sessions, whom we previously noted and who is a backup on a going-nowhere Cleveland team. The Cavs got him from Minnesota when they unloaded their problem child Delonte West, and they are having to pay him about $12.5M to be their backup PG for 3 seasons counting this one. On a Mavs team with possibilities, he might make way more sense at that price than on a Cavs team mired in last place. Might the Cavs be interested in simply having the Mavs take his contract off their hands with a TE?

Would the Mavs be willing? It's a lot of money for a backup, but it seems someone like him is badly needed to keep Kidd fresh, keep from overusing Barea, and provide some insurance in the event of injury.

Let's say the Mavs do something unexpected via trade. Is there any way to try to figure out in advance who they might be talking with, before the news breaks?

Smile

We're giving you a feel in this space for what the Mavs are thinking as it happens. (Fish clearly and long ago has nailed Dallas' deep interest in Detroit's Tayshaun Prince and the reasons the Pistons are reluctant to let him go, as just one example.) But if you want a "guess ahead'' on where they are about to have "secret talks'' that could go somewhere, here's where we think you should look.

Keep an eye on Washington, Memphis, Charlotte, Toronto, Indiana, New York, or Philly.

Why? It's based on a too-often overlooked concept: NBA trades come from people. For a trade to happen, it's not from two teams whose assets matched in a trade machine, but rather from two sets of people who worked to help each other.

This means that, everything else being equal, the most likely teams the Mavs will make a trade with in 2011 are the ones they've traded with before, perhaps in 2008, or 2009, or 2010. Same people, working with same people, somehow tend to find more ways to get things done.

Of course, everything isn't always equal. If the Mavs want a Melo or a Nene or a Martin, there's only one place they can get those.

But if they are looking for a small move, to fill a hole here or there? Look to the past. And be smart about it.

The list of "recent Mav trade partners" includes Washington, New Jersey, Memphis, Charlotte, Toronto, and Indiana – and, just as we're theorizing, some of those have done multiple trades with Dallas. But our list is a bit different – because it's about people, not team name. So we added New York (because Indy GM Walsh is now with the Knicks) while keeping Indy on the list (with Bird still there, who was involved in those prior trades, as well as with Carlisle's ties both to Bird and to the Pacers), removed New Jersey (they've replaced almost their whole front office since the Mavs made multiple trades with them), and we've added Philly (where ex-NJ GM Rod Thorn and his primary lieutenant now work).

Smile

We're working on specifics. … Big deals. … small deals. … How the money works. … What Mavs execs, coaches and players are saying to us, in public and in private (see our inside stuff on Rip Hamilton and Corey Maggette, as the tips of the iceberg) … The top Mavs-related trade idea that insiders say won't happen, but makes too much sense not to mention … The team the Mavs seem destined to make a trade with? … A too-complicated, super-mega deal idea with Cleveland that we love … and much, much more. Every day. Maybe even every hour of every day between now and the Feb. 24 NBA trade deadline.

Welcome to Mavs' Trade Rumor Traffic.




YES, THE MAVS HAD 'INTERNAL DISCUSSIONS' ABOUT COREY MAGGETTE. NOW, DO YOU WANT TO KNOW THE RESULTS? - by Fish, 933p 2/1/11

ESPN writes correctly that "the Mavs have at least had internal discussions regarding … Milwaukee's Corey Maggette.'' But what you really want to know is, what are the results of those 'internal discussions'? Dig into Mavs Premium for the scoop straight from Mavs HQ:

Almost immediately following the Caron Butler injury, DallasBasketball.com examined the Mavs' options and mentioned Maggette thusly:

Corey Maggette, now of Milwaukee? The Mavs have never been especially fond of him. But he can score.

Has that changed since Jan. 2 when we wrote it? Are there "internal discussions'' that offer a different tone than that?

The Mavs' thinking on Corey Maggette truly dates back to Don Nelson's days as a powerbroker in the Dallas Mavericks organization. It was Nellie who leaned heavily towards players capable of taking an intellectual approach to basketball.

And what did Nellie think of Corey Maggette back then?

We heard him mumble Nellie's infamous catchphrase "Box o' Rocks'' more than once.

It was therefore odd when in the summer of 2008, the Warriors – reeling because they'd failed to sign Elton Brand (who left the Clippers to go to Philly) while also losing Baron Davis (also to the Clippers) – seemed t want to retaliate against those same Clippers by "stealing'' from them Maggette.

Nellie and Golden State decided to give Maggette a five-year deal worth a reported $50 million – and this was a surprise in three ways:

1. As DallasBasketball.com reported at the time, other NBA teams seemed to like Maggette – but only at the MLE level, or about half what the panicky Warriors eventually gave him.

2. Golden State was already all full up with knuckleheads, what with Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington in positions of "leadership'' with the club.

3 And of course … Nellie never liked Maggette as a player. Never.

I remember the Mavs reacting to that signing with bemusement … and I mean, bemusement even from Nellie's own son, Donnie, the Dallas GM.

But Nellie's team suddenly had a perceived need. So he changed his views (however temporarily, since last summer the Warriors dumped Maggette onto Milwaukee for little but financial relief , getting back a second-round pick plus Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric.

Charlie Bell is now averaging 1.2 points per game for the Warriors. Dan Gadzuric is now averaging 3.2 points per game for the Warriors.

So Golden State swapped out a guy who has been a 22-ppg scorer in the NBA for two guys who combine for four points per game?

Why? You know why. Nellie (who predictably clashed with Maggette all last season) knows why. And believe me when I say that when "the Mavs have internal discussions regarding Milwaukee's Corey Maggette,'' it is Don Nelson's son who ends the "internal discussions'' by saying, "Let's move on.''

In fairness, there is at least one member of the Dallas staff who recognizes that Maggette does have offensive skills that would be a fit with the Mavs right now … "if.''

"He's big, he's strong, he gets to the line and he's a legit second option,'' this staffer tells me. "He wants the ball. All those things would help, if …''

And indeed, before we get to the "if's,'' let me bring in Kammrath to give Maggette his offensive due:

Here are Maggette's stats from the last three seasons before this one:

2009-2010

2008-2009

2007-2008

Plus/Minus

-5.53

-2.36

+7.17

Off P/M

-0.40

+0.62

+4.17

Def P/M

-5.12

-2.98

+2.99

Adj P/M

-2.82

-4.51

+4.42

PER

20.3

16.9

19.3

Pts/36

24.0

21.5

22.3

Rbds/36

6.5

6.4

5.7

Asts/36

3.0

2.1

2.7

Stls/36

0.9

1.0

1.0

Blks/36

0.1

0.2

0.1

TO/36

2.9

2.7

2.8

FG%

0.516

0.461

0.458

3P%

0.260

0.253

0.384

FT%

0.835

0.824

0.812

FTA/36

9.5

9.4

9.8

As you can see, Maggette has been an offensive beast the last three seasons. He has averaged over 21 points per 36 minutes all three seasons. He has had a great PER, ranging from about 17-20. He has shot the ball well with percentages around 46 percent and even one season of over 51 percent. He is a very good free-throw shooter as well and has averaged around 9.5 free throws per 36 minutes.

Kammrath notes that Maggette has some question marks on the defensive end and has a reputation as a poor defender -- though in 07-08 he had a defensive plus/minus of +4.42 with the Clippers. That may be a result of his ability to stop play with free throws and allow the defense to get set and it may also be a clue that he is capable of being an adequate defender. With Golden State he had poor defensive plus/minus numbers and overall bad plus/minus numbers as well. But with the Clippers in 07-08 he had an outstanding year across the board.

But there are those "if's.''

"If'' he wasn't a ball-stopper. The Mavs' offense is predicated on ball movement. (When the ball stops with Dirk Nowitzki, it's by design.) Maggette is an offensive player who stops the motion.

"He's a black hole,'' as one insider put it.

Listen to more evaluations of Corey that I've gathered from Mavs HQ and you will hear the echoes of Nellie:

"You're better off having better problem-solvers'' … "We always prefer guys who have good basketball sense'' … "He'll tend to go a lot of 1-on-1.'' …

And that's what's being said at these "internal discussions,'' which don't even proceed to the point where Maggette's bloated contract -- $9.6 mil this year, $10.2 mil next year and $10.9 mil the year after that -- is discussed.

This much is true about Maggette: When he is given the ball, he scores. On Friday he put up 29 points and got to the free-throw line 10 times. Since the Bucks put him back into their starting lineup two weeks ago, he's averaged 19 points, 5.7 rebounds and three assists per game.

But note that Dirk recently stated that there isn't a selfish bone in the Mavs locker room. This is the foundation of everything Dallas is doing … and unselfishness and smarts are not Maggette's foundation. The Mavs don't want to mess with the "chemistry vibe" anymore than they need to. Maggette has only been to the playoffs once (with the Clippers in 05-06). He performed well in that single appearance ,though, and had a PER of over 20. Has he simply had the misfortune of being stuck on bad teams or is there something about his game and personality that has caused his teams to struggle?

The Mavericks believe they know the answer. And in fact, maybe the Bucks are showcasing him now amid word that he's in danger of losing some minutes whenever John Salmons is ready, and he might find himself back behind Carlos Delfino is ready to move back into the starting lineup.

Smile

Why? Because the Bucks have discovered that he's a "Box o' Rocks.''

And the Mavs – who do have a need for an offensive creator but will want that person to be "more of a thinker than just a reactor,'' as one personnel guy described Maggette to me -- knew that a long time ago.

Call it Donnie Nelson's version of "Lessons From My Father'' … and know that the Mavs' "internal discussions about Corey Maggette'' have never gone too far beyond Donnie's internal discussions with himself.




IS THERE A 'MAVS-RIP HAMILTON SURPRISE'? THE TRUTH FROM INSIDE MAVS HQ - By Fish, 1p 2/1/11

Sports Illustrated recently generated a quickie item that read, 'A couple of executives expressed surprised the Mavs have not tried to trade for Rip.' Any NBA suit who is truly surprised by this must be ignorant of Dallas' specific thoughts on Rip Hamilton.

SI's Chris Mannix at least got it half-right when he tweeted a remark from an NBA exec reflecting on Dallas' inactivity in regard to the veteran Hamilton.

"They must really not want that contract," an exec told Mannix.

You're getting warmer …

Richard Hamilton, 32, seems in steady decline as a player. While he is "Pistons royalty,'' as former Detroit mate Chauncey Billups recently said, there might be some justification for coach John Kuester "phasing him out'' in Detroit.

Of course, that's not how this has gone down.

Hamilton's benching began when he was earmarked for a move to New Jersey in a proposed three-way trade involving Denver's Carmelo Anthony. That was way back on Jan 12 … and while the ‘Melo trade being "imminent'' has come and gone, Rip's burial on the Detroit bench has only gone deeper.

The DNP-CD's have morphed into the club reporting that Rip has "the flu.'' And now comes the spin out of Detroit that the Pistons are actually better without him on the floor: mLive.com does the math, reporting that in the 2009-10 season, the Pistons were 14-32 (.304) with Rip and 13-23 (.361) without him. This season, the Pistons are 11-23 (.324) with him and 6-7 (.462) without him.

Maybe it's illogical to argue that Rip is actually a detriment on the floor. But off the floor? A DallasBasketball.com source very close to the situation says, "The two big guys there, Rip and (Tayshaun) Prince, both feel the same way about the coach now.''

The Tayshaun Prince note is significant to the Mavs. Our sources tell us Prince remains very high on the Dallas Mavericks' pre-deadline wish list, and (see below) we've broken down in detail how that can work. (Nevertheless, some in the Dallas camp still believe that ultimately, Detroit GM Joe Dumars will follow his usual pattern and be loyal to Tayshaun, retaining him because of his talents, his leadership for a rebuilding club and his "royal'' stature as a Pistons champion.)

But Hamilton's situation is wildly different. There's little chance for reconciliation in Detroit, it seems … but there are financial ties that may bind the parties together in this unhappy union.

"If Rip was in a different circumstance, we might be able to see what he's got left,'' a scout from an NBA Western Conference team tells us. "But right now, you don't really know what you're getting.''

Except, that is, for the dollars that don't make sense.
*Hamilton is still owed about $26 million more on his contract (as of the trade deadline). A buyout doesn't erase a penny of that -- other than what reduction he agrees to, which would likely be minor at best. NBA players don't often forfeit $26 million, even in a situation as full of "buffoonery'' (Tayshaun's word for what the organization has done) as this.
*Detroit is in financial straits as it is (the Pistons exist in spending lockdown right now as the Davidson family is trying to get billionaire Tom Gores to buy the team) and the cap and tax considerations do not figure to change considerably after any conventional buyout.
*Following a buyout, there is no future cap escape. That buyout amount remains; you cannot trade it, or the player, of course.

And so, in summary … the Pistons and Richard Hamilton do have one thing in common.

They are both stuck. With each other.

And the SI report is somebody's fantasy … almost as if the author is a Rip fan who is himself proposing a deal be struck (with Detroit freeing the player while still enduring all the financial burdens).

That's not how these things work.
"They really don't have anywhere to go,'' one NBA exec tells us. "We'd be interested in him as a player, but …''

And that same "but'' goes for the Mavs. In the unlikely event that Hamilton negotiates his release, Hamilton would inch up the Mavs' wish list. Indeed, if he finds himself a free agent, a bidding war will likely ensure, certainly up to MLE-sized proposals.
Smile
But right now? Hamilton has surely examined his options. Not in Dallas and not in Boston and not anywhere is there a team willing to pay up to the degree that Rip can depart Detroit with a fraction of his $26 million and make it up elsewhere.

The Mavericks' view on Rip Hamilton is this: Because of his fat contract and his lessened value, Detroit doesn't have the ability to trade him. Because of that contract, the Pistons' ownership being in limbo, the local economy and the possible labor-dispute issues, Detroit doesn't have the ability to buy him out.

The view from Dallas HQ? The Mavs aren't trading for Rip Hamilton.

The view from Dallas HQ? Nobody is trading for Rip Hamilton.



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