TRT: Always Updated, Up To The Deadline

Melo doesn't want to provide ‘car services' to the Mavs? Cuban hustling through LA hotel lobbies? What's up? Plus, we name NBA names: Nene, Prince, Murphy, Devin, Capt. Jack, Artest. Tons of TRADE RUMOR TRAFFIC … Updated HERE as it happens!

*The Melodramatic Quote of the Day: "Unless they're trying to get car services and want to rent a car, I really don't want to have to be a rental," Carmelo Anthony said of teams like Dallas that are willing to take that Rent-a-Melo risk on him. "I don't feel like I'm a rental player. I don't want to go somewhere and be a rental for two months and then have to deal with this all over again. I don't want to go there."

The comment demonstrates one of two things: 1) ‘Melo absolutely positively doesn't want to sign an extension with Dallas. Or 2) ‘Melo doesn't understand that the Rent-a-Melo concept is a gesture made TOO him … not an insult.

*Yesterday afternoon, we reported that if ‘Melo is indeed sealed and delivered (if not exactly signed) to the Nets, that Dallas would turn its attention to another Nugget: Nene.

Shortly after that, Yahoo reported that Dallas boss Mark Cuban was corralling Nuggets executive Josh Kroenke for a one-on-one meeting.

Is a fire sale coming?

Yes, if Melo goes to NJ.

If Melo goes to NY? Not necessarily. A team with a core of Nene and Afflalo and Ty Lawson plus Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and Raymond Felton might stillbe rather competitive. …

* Doesn't watching the Melodrama unfold make you appreciate Dirk Nowitzki all that much more?

*As has so often been the case lately, Portland just can't catch a break.

The Blazers are/were working on a potential steal: Giving up solid pro Andre Miller for Devin Harris, apparently in an emotional funk in NJ.

And that's where it gets interesting for the Mavs. Not because Devin is presently on the Mavs' radar (he's a centerpiece of the Melo proposal to Denver), but because this is Avery Johnson in action.

Hey, I thought Avery was pretending that Devin was a player he'd never want to trade, that he was "like family'' to him?

It was baloney when we told you it was baloney four years ago and the baloney has simply aged.

And one of the reasons Devin is in a funk is because he fell for Avery's bit, too, just like so many other poor saps.

*A PS here: If Devin is dealt to Denver, will the Mavs be interested. The answer a month ago was "yes' – but that was before Roddy B made his debut. This bears further checking …

*So by gathering info from lots of NY media outlets, here's the Knicks' supposed Melo offer: Danilo Gallinari , Wilson Chandler and Raymond Felton to Denver for Anthony, Billups and something. Maybe with a third team involved to take on Eddy Curry. This deal – THREE Knicks players, not five, plus tax savings for Denver – sounds more reasonable than the fantasies NY papers have printed before.

Oh, and more reasonable than the fantasies Denver has asked for before.

*Yes, Tayshaun Prince remains on Dallas' radar. And this week he's finally talking about being ready to leave his only NBA city.

Said Prince: "Who wouldn't want to have that situation? Who wouldn't want the opportunity to play for another championship?''

As has reported, Prince is the best/easiest fit of all the names generally known to be on the block. He's averaging 14.6 points per game, remains a defensive ace, understands the team concept and as an expiring contract, could simply be flipped for Caron Butler and sweetener to give Detroit something for its trouble and to allow Prince's escape from an ugly Pistons situation.

*For all the ESPN-driven headlines about a major Lakers trade (kind of the same treatment the network gives the Dallas Cowboys), there is not much there.

"I think it's unlikely,'' Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak says of a deal, "but there are eight days to go and all the general managers are here in Los Angeles. There will be a lot of yakking, there will be a lot of guys moving off to the side, there will be a lot of phone calls. You make phone calls, and you take phone calls. That's what we do. So I stand by what I said: I think it's unlikely, but I don't think any GM would stand here and say there will be absolutely be no changes in eight days, and particularly at this time of year."

*Boston wants to add a wing but will probably wait until buyout time to do so … The Rip Hamilton trade reports are bogus …

*Orlando and Houston both need centers. Houston being Houston, they have naturally associated themselves with Nene. I'm a bit surprised they haven't leaked that they are in the running for Wilt, Russell and a young Shaq as well. …

Seriously, though, a Denver fire sale puts Houston right in the running there.

*For the second time in two weeks, a Mavs source informs me that NBA buzz has Michael Jordan eventually "shedding salary'' in Charlotte. The Bobcats want to move Diaw for sure. That's no sale here. Capt. Jack? Watch that "Chemistry Vibe,'' Mavs. Gerald Wallace? Not a ‘second scorer,' Mavs. ….

* Prediction: In the next two days a national report will connect the Mavs with Corey Maggette of the Bucks. I urge you to ignore the report by repeating after me the following phrases: "Black hole.'' "Box o' Rocks.'' "Lacks BBIQ.'' …

*Golden State is saying it will eventually be the landing spot of Troy Murphy if he's swapped out of NJ in a Melo deal. …

*The Mavs don't get to say they had the last laugh on Ron Artest; Cuban is fibbing if he says he wasn't interested in acquiring him at one time … and then when Artest went to the Lakers, Cuban made fun of the move.

And then LA won another championship.

But the Lakers would like to dump Ron-Ron now. A very tough sell with three years left on his contract.

But if Murphy is not included in the Melo trade? We're sticking with our story that there won't be many other trade takers and than he will eventually get bought out. And THEN the Warriors and Hornets will covet him.

Dallas? The one-time interest in Murphy has faded due to the presence of Peja. Dallas won't get into a bidding war, but will consider a $1 minimum offer. …

*Melo met with Knicks owner James Dolan? Legally or illegally? Tampering, or with Nuggets permission? Why, if a Nets deal is "done,'' would Denver grant permission for such a meeting?

* Mark Cuban is using that word again. "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."

He's speaking the truth in one sense: Last year, Josh Howard (eventually dealt to Washington) was a drag on the locker room. …

Of course, he probably looked like he possessed a "sense of urgency'' when he scooted through that hotel lobby alongside Kroenke …


The Record in NJ says the Nets-Nuggets portion of the 'Melo deal is done. But, there's a 'but' ... Meanwhile, if it does go through, there is one obvious domino direction for the Mavs to turn to ... Tons of TRADE RUMOR TRAFFIC … Updated HERE as it happens!

According to the New Jersey paper, the Nets and Nuggets have reached an agreement on a deal involving Carmelo Anthony. (link and Boards discussion here) But ... The deal is pending Anthony agreeing to sign a three-year, $65 million contract extension.

Assume Anthony says yes. The Nets reportedly get Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Sheldon Williams, Melvin Ely and Renaldo Balkman from the Nuggets. In turn, the Nets will send Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, Troy Murphy, Ben Uzoh and four first-round picks to Denver.

If 'Melo says no, the Mavs remain a longshot in the hunt (see below). But again, assume 'Melo says yes.

What is the next domino to fall that can benefit Dallas?

There are at least three. We'll break down what this means for Devin Harris and for Tayshaun Prince as we proceed throughout the weekend. But for now, let's focus on the one biggest prize.

Multiple sources tell us that Denver is prepared to go into strip-down mode post-trade. At the top of that heap: Nene.

As we've noted before, has an NBA talent guy who sees a fit between Nene and Dallas -- in part because he can play some 4.

"He's a unique body,'' our guy says. "(The Mavs) could play him at the 4 and the 5. They could play him next to Tyson Chandler some times. He'd be a big upgrade over what (they) have, he'd be a big complement to Chandler and Dirk. Nene would change (Dallas) in so many good ways, mostly because I think he'd be more than just a center.''

But whatever he does this year (and he's been pretty much exclusively a 5), he's done it well. Kammrath recently crunched the numbers:

He is putting up great numbers this year from the 5, having easily the best adjusted plus/minus on his team with +10.56 and a great unadjusted plus/minus of +7.45. His defensive plus/minus is +0.27 while his offensive plus/minus is about +7.18. When Nene plays, the Nuggets also grab +3.9 percent more defensive rebounds. He has been healthy the last three years after a very hard start to his career. He is only 28 and has put up PER numbers of 18.8, 18.9, and 21.1 the last three years.


There are certainly ways for Dallas to bid on Denver, countless ways. Start with Denver wanting cap reduction, it's quite doable to make them tax free if you want to.

How hard Dallas wants to bargain here depends in part on whether the Mavs truly are on Nene's "wish list'' and on how hard Houston is willing to bargain. The Rockets have assets and they need a center more than Dallas does, which means they might offer their "kitchen sink'' for Nene when the Mavs likely will not.

A yes from Melo to NJ ends the bottleneck. And it begins the bidding on Nene.

MELO MEETINGS? MAVS WILL STILL WANT IN: by Fish feb 18 2011 Reports insist Nets boss Prokhorov is meeting with Melo at All-Star Weekend. Simultaneous reports say an email from Prokhorov's office has NJ remaining disinterested. It's almost as if the BS is craftily coordinated! (That's because it is.) Oh, and don't think the Mavs with their Roddy B denials aren't trying to be crafty, too.

You've got the Nets insisting owner Mikhail Prokhorov has not changed his mind about the franchise's disinterest in pursuing Carmelo Anthony.

And it seems pretty credible.

I mean, it's in an email!

The Russian bossman pulled out of talks with Denver last month after growing frustrated at the Nuggets' attempts to move the bar every time the clubs closed in on an agreement. (And maybe frustrated by his perception of Anthony and his people as impudent or even incompetent.)

I believed then that he was serious – especially as he realized that ‘Melo wasn't interested in remaining a Net long-term, anyway. (They are, after all, 17-40. The Nets are going nowhere fast. Slowly.)

And I believe it now especially after his office communicated via email to the Associated Press that …

"Mikhail has not changed his mind," as Prokhorov spokeswoman Ellen Pinchuk wrote.

Yeah, but there is one way I bet the Nets would be on-the-record interested again: If they can get ‘Melo interested.

And another "yeah but'':

At the same time as this "no-deal'' report, numerous national outlets are writing that there WILL be a rejuvenation of what once was a much-publicized 15-player, three-team proposal. … and that the rejuvenation will accelerate this weekend when the whole gang gets together in LA for the All-Star Game.

So … which is true?

Neither. And both.

It's all chum at this point.

"I turn on the TV, and I turn it right back off because it's always something, it's always a new team, always a rumor, always this person saying that, that person saying this," said Anthony, whose relative ignorance on what's up may be the most sincere take of them all. "I try not to pay attention to it."

At this stage (still early before the Feb. 24 deadline), any club involved in leaking "sourced'' material – or more, actually emails from the owner's office – is selfishly motivated. It's likely that Denver has touched base once again with the Nets … in order to re-start talks or maybe just to make jealous the other most serious suitor, the Knicks. It's quite likely that all involved parties will hook up in LA. But do understand this: If the Nuggets have an all-but-done deal wit the Nets, as has been reported ... why are the Knicks planning to meet with Melo? Why would the Nuggets allow such a meeting?

Answer? Because there is no such thing as "done'' on the Friday morning before the All-Star Weekend, a full seven days before the deadline.

It's all a game.

And, by the way, the Dallas Mavericks still want to play.

Choose whichever media outlet you wish to believe (it's your dime!), but I am here to testify that reports that suddenly have Dallas reversing field on its willingness to include Rodrigue Beaubois in a trade for Melo – even in the event Anthony declines the offer of the Sign-and-Extend of three years and the max $65 million – are, if true, a sign that the Mavs are flip-flopping wildly from a well-considered position taken since mid-August.

What, exactly has changed?

*Roddy B's fine debut on Wednesday? That appearance came 56 games later than the Mavs wished. But that performance was not a surprise. So it should provide no reason for the Mavs to suddenly value him more than that have before.

*A change because Dallas is newly convinced ‘Melo really, really wants to end up a Knick? Sorry, that's bogus. Mavs officials have been telling me that since mid-August. The idea that Dallas is now less interested because Anthony's desires are only recently crystallized is nonsense.

*A new confidence in the club as presently constructed? Nope. The Mavs always fancied themselves a top-tier team in the West – and always still dreamed of adding ‘Melo to their stable of talent.

I'm not changing my view, and I don't think the Mavericks are, either. (I am prepared for Cuban to proudly announce, after Melo goes elsewhere, that the reason is "faith in Roddy B'' and "We Love Our Boys In Blue'' and all that crap.) If the goal is to win a title – just one title (to start, anyway) and to do so at the earliest possible opportunity – you swing for that opportunity now.

The 'Melo camp is large. There can be formal meetings. There can be informal meetings. How much would you like to wager that Mark Cuban will be in LA conducting meetings of the informal variety -- again, as always, simply to reiterate Dallas' long-standing offer to Denver of "the kitchen sink'' and Dallas' long-standing position to 'Melo of "come as you are''?

By the way, that doesn't just apply to Dallas. It also applies to Denver, which may keep moving the bar on its trade demands because it believes retaining ‘Melo is its best course of action.

None of this increases Dallas' long-shot chance at Anthony. But after spending five months in just-in-case position, this would be an awful time and a foolish time for the Mavericks to pull out of the race.


* A national report attempting to connect the Mavs with Portland's Marcus Camby is wrong – or at least premature. No such conversation has occurred. …

*Any interest Dallas might've had in using a TE to take a guard off the Cavs roster is being killed by the return of Beaubois and the outstanding play of JJ Barea …

*A ‘Melo complication: In NY, they are saying that the Knicks plan on meeting with ‘Melo in LA, too. But if the Nuggets have the parameters of a Nets deal in place, why would Denver allow such a meeting? …

*The report that the Nuggets are demanding the Knicks give them Denver is demanding picks, cash and five young rotation players -- Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, Landry Fields, Raymond Felton and Timofey Mozgov – seems nonsensical. …

*Atlanta wants point-guard help. The Hawks just don't want to pay for it. …

*It is the esteemed opinion of ESPN's Chad Ford that Dallas lacks any ammunition to make a trade.


Ford, to be frank, is not plugged into the Mavs. He writes, "Much of the focus has been on players like Tayshaun Prince, Stephen Jackson and Antawn Jamison.''

He's guessing – and he's only 1-for-3 …

* If Denver does move ‘Melo, the Nuggets are expected to then stage a fire sale. The Mavs will not be interested in J.R. Smith. They will be interested in Nene. Oh, and if Billups is freed to leave, he'll be a player some clubs try to sign just to keep him away from competitors (competitors like Miami, for instance) …

* You are likely familiar with our David Lord's scenario in which Caron Butler's expiring contract is dealt to a have-not in order to simply save Dallas some tax penalty. I don't have the team, but I have the conversation (with somebody) and the Mavs had one on Thursday …

CARON AND THE TAX SAVINGS: by D-Lord and Fish ... Feb 16 2011 Being precise is usually just an exercise in compulsive perfection. That applies to the nitpicking details of the CBA, contracts and trades. Using close approximations are often all that's needed to enlighten. But as rehabbing Caron Butler does his part to contribute – ‘I've got a helluva resume,' he says – we do ours. And we've found a Caron trade situation where our approximation is trumped by precision.

First there is Caron's own plan: Rehab in a miraculously fast time, return to the floor and help Dallas to a title.

"I plan on playing in this year's playoffs,'' he said.

Yes. Or …

We've written that if the Mavs don't find a Butler trade that brings them someone they like, they could understandably entertain the idea of trading him to an under-the-cap team simply for a future junk draft pick, in order to gain a major tax reduction. Using this technique, Caron's salary for the whole season for tax purposes would not be counted against the Mavs. That would bring them a savings of $10.56M - which for the average NBA franchise is the equivalent of 2-3 years profits.

In such a deal, the other team would end up paying Butler for the rest of the season. Using our rule of thumb that the season is usually about 2/3 done at the deadline, we quickly figured he would still be due another $3.52M, and that the Mavs could send the max-allowable $3M cash in the deal to offset most of it, plus something else of value to make up the difference.

But we spoke too fast.

The NBA season started and ends a bit earlier this year than usual. As a result, at the deadline we'll be farther into the season than the 2/3 mark, and Caron's remaining salary will only be about $3M at that point. (The precise number depends on how the league would allot the pay for the trade day, but the end result is $3M within about $35,000-ish or so one way or the other.)

In other words, the Mavs could conceivably end up saying the following to one of several teams: "Please take Caron off our payroll, and here's the cash to pay his entire remaining salary. Now what do you want for your trouble?" If they want to make it happen, it should be an incredibly easy deal to negotiate.

Of course, the other team might even be willing to buy out his contract and waive him, where he could return to Dallas after 30 days to rehab and for a possible playoff role if he recovers in time. But for the Mavs that sort of scenario would simply be icing on a $10.56M cake.

Caron seems aware of some of the possibilities here. As he attended Tuesday's practice and visited with the media while aboard an exercise bike – a big step back after the knee surgery that followed his January injury -- he noted both his desire to "stay'' and his desire to maybe "return":

"Anything can happen, and I understand the business,'' he 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.''

Caron may be a proven winner … but his contract can be a winner, too.

Will the Mavs make the sort of trade we outline above? We hope and believe that as Feb. 24 approaches, their first priority will be to use his contract to look for an upgrade. And if one is not available, they still might prefer to keep him. But as easy a deal as this would be, and given the fact that he's injured, is he worth $10.56M in tax, to keep on the roster?

Are his Bird rights, with the uncertainty of contracts and rules in a new CBA, worth $10.56M to them?

He's a "helluva player'' … but this is a heckuva chance for the Mavs to gain talent or save money. We're about to find out which way they lean … and we're continuing to fine-tune our calculators in preparation for a move.

SO … WHICH WAY DO THEY LEAN?: They lean, as always, to trading Butler as part of a deal to acquire Carmelo Anthony from the Nuggets.


So much has been written … and so much APPEARS to have happened … but while Denver continues to move the bar in its talks with the Knicks (just as the Nuggets did in their talks with the Nets), the Mavs' proposal is unchanged from when it was first suggested (and reported here) back in August:

Butler's $10.6 million expiring, DeShawn Stevenson's $4.1 mil expiring, the promising Roddy Beaubois, cash, picks, another young player … the kitchen sink.

The Nets might re-enter these talks with higher picks and a lotto guy in Derrick Favors. (Denver has told Dallas they want a lotto-level kid … Dallas has countered by saying Roddy B IS that.) The Knicks are closing in on specifics to give the Nuggets for Carmelo … But it seems every time Denver nods its head at some package that includes Wilson Chandler or Danilo Gallinari or whatever, the Nuggets follow up by saying, "Oh, and Raymond Felton and Landry Fields, too.''

If the Knicks come out of the Feb. 24 deadline tunnel with a lineup featuring, say, ‘Melo and Billups joining Stoudemire … that's fairly stout. And it can be a path to adding Chris Paul in the future. That's NY's vision, and that – being in NY – remains ‘Melo's vision.

We think that the only way ‘Melo-to-the-Knicks doesn't happen now is if Nuggets bosses Josh Kroenke and Masai Ujiri, both new on the job, fumble the ball.

If they do? Dallas has a lesser offer. But that offer has been on the table for six months. It's the most the Mavs can give – and don't believe this hooey about Roddy B being "untouchable''; he's central to the proposal.

Do, however, believe Denver's reluctance to deal Anthony within the conference. It is the reason Denver has specifically given to Dallas when it turns down anything the Mavs bring up. Likewise, don't put too much stock into the ‘Melo-to-LA stuff. Imagine how haunting that would be to Kroenke and Ujiri, scared enough of having to face Anthony in a Dallas uni.

So it's the Knicks in the post position. The Nets are considering re-entering the race. Chicago gets discussed in media circles, certainly. Houston is among the teams talking about themselves while no one is really acknowledging what they're saying. The Nuggets could keep ‘Melo, of course, and make their own playoff run before losing him this summer … a risk that could make them the Rocky Mountain version of Cleveland.

And there is Dallas, with its willingness to give ‘Melo his extension for a guaranteed $65 million, or to take him on without the extension, to offer everything it has in its stable this side of Dirk/Chandler.

The Mavs are not negotiating, exactly. Because there is nothing to negotiate.


Here's the kitchen sink. If the Knicks don't give you what you want, and as the afternoon of Feb. 24 approaches and you fear eventually losing Anthony for nothing … here's a lot of something. Call us.

WHAT'S THIS ‘RODDY B UNTOUCHABLE' BUSINESS?: It is still, a source tells this morning, "the longest of longshots.'' But the Dallas Mavericks have submitted their bid.

That bid features Caron Butler … even as Tuff Juice proudly touts his "helluva resume.''

And make no mistake: That bid features Roddy B … even as Mavs staffers are apparently whispering the word "untouchable'' to reporters in an obvious attempt to increase his perceived value.

Beaubois' return to action (tonight at home against the Kings) is fortuitous in many ways. The Mavs need the boost he can give them should he remain in a Dallas uniform, which certainly is the most likely scenario. (If Dallas makes a mid-level trade for, say, Tayshaun Prince, the cost will not include Beaubois.) The Mavs also need to see what they look like with Roddy B on the floor before they do much tinkering of any sort.


But also factored in: The rest of the league needs to see Roddy B, too. You think scouting eyes in Denver and elsewhere won't be watching the Mavericks game tonight?

Again, when it comes to ‘Melo, there IS NO NEGOTIATING. Roddy B is automatically part of it.

It's the kitchen sink and it's all Dallas can do. There is some juggling to be performed, some dominoes to be knocked down. Example: How long does Denver wait to decide, and if it decides not to deal with Dallas, will there be time to turn around and flip Caron to someone else for savings?

But the decision is all Denver's. The juggling cannot happen until Denver decides. The dominoes cannot fall until Denver decides. The Mavericks are in the poker game, but they are in other poker games, too. In a sense, not only is Denver instrumental in what happens to Carmelo Anthony, it's also in some control of what happens to Caron Butler.


Our predictions of trade-minded visits between the Mavs and the Cavs has come true, a source says. But what happens when Cleveland shows a desire to ship ex-Mavs forward Antawn Jamison back to Dallas? Six quickie takes on exploratory Mavs-Cavs discussions:


1 Cleveland wants to trade Antawn Jamison, the 34-year-old forward who was such a productive sixth man for the Mavs back in 2003-04. Contrary to what some clubs hope, we are told the Cavs do not want to buy him out.

2 There is presently not much market for Jamison due to his contract, which pays him $13 million this year and $15 million next year. That's a major turnoff to Dallas … and rumors that teams like New Orleans might be interested are almost certainly bogus because it's unlikely the Hornets want to foot that bill, either.

3 The Mavs not only don't like the $13-mil/$15-mil part of the equation. They also don't see Jamison's skill set as fulfilling a Dallas need. We're not sure we agree with this; he's an "easy-basket'' guy, a 17.6-point scorer (with 6.6 rebounds per) who can do damage inside. In 10 of his NBA seasons he's scored 19 or more. In that Dallas season he was good for 15 points in just 29 minutes. But …

4 He's also a mediocre defensive player and the last time he came through town, he politely asked to be dealt so he would no longer have to be saddled with sixth-man duties. (We suppose, though, now that he plays for basketball's worst team, the sixth-man job for a contender looks pretty sweet.)

In a Jamison-in-Dallas scenario, he would obviously be a supporting-cast member. We'll assume that even while he's a high-quality guy, when our source tells us that he "doesn't fit a need,'' what's being factored in are all of the above: Combine salary + defense + mindset and THAT = "doesn't fit a need.''

5 Now, could Jamison be traded THROUGH Dallas? There are fits there. And could Mavs-Cavs talks about one subject blossom into discussions about other ideas? There are multiple fits there, as our David Lord has outlined.

6 At some point, the Mavs and the Cavs will discuss the smaller and larget pieces that each team has at its disposal.

For Dallas, there are little Trade Exceptions. The Mavs could take back players for up to $4.4 million and $3.1million for nothing more than a pick or cash. Anthony Parker, for one, is quite get-able.

For Cleveland, there is the huge $14-million Trade Exception (LeBron-related). That has nothing to do with Jamison, but it can have everything to do with Cleveland serving as a facilitator as Dallas goes fishing for big targets.

Cleveland is making Antawn Jamison available and that's a no-sell to Dallas. But one discussion can lead to another … which can lead to another … and as we are now 10 days before the Feb. 24 NBA trade deadline, the time for those conversations is here.

MELO AND MAYO AND BIG WOOD: By Fish feb 10 2011

Mario Mendoza was a good-field/no-hit shortstop in the 1970's who George Brett used as the symbol of offensive incompetence. Brett mentioned it to ESPN's Chris Berman and it took off: "The Mendoza Line'' was originally all about the point at which the newspaper would cease listing players' batting average – at a lousy .200. …


Or right about where Mendoza usually seemed to end up.

You didn't want to be at or below "The Mendoza Line.'' (In 1981, Mendoza played for the Texas Rangers and was batting .118 when he was released.)

And now has learned at what point the Dallas Mavericks' endless search for the two-way/create-his-own/star-quality 2-guard reaches its depth.

"The Mayo Line.''

No, the Mavs don't call it any such thing. It's our job to make up silly nicknames for stuff. It's their job to scout players who are on the block as the Feb. 24 trade deadline approaches and to determine who on that list can be "that guy.''

O.J. Mayo, the Mavs have determined, cannot be "that guy.''

If somebody loves Mayo, he can probably be gotten at 80 cents on the dollar. Not long ago, Mayo was a No. 3 overall pick, a Rookie of the Year runner-up and a blue-chip prospect who was a full-time starter in each of his first two NBA seasons.

Suddenly, he's …


*Serving a 10-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance, DHEA, which he claims came from having guzzled an energy drink while stopped at a filling station. (A claim that is severely lacking in credibility.)

*No longer a starter, anyway, having been demoted from the first team.

*Central in a team-fight controversy stemming from a card game on the Grizzlies flight, causing coach Lionel Hollins to ban card games. And, I assume, team fights.

*Is experiencing his worst-ever statistical season, with lows in rebounds, assists, field-goal percentage, free-throw percentage, 3-point percentage, blocks, steals and – most importantly if you are billed as a two-way/create-his-own/star-quality 2-guard – points.

Memphis is finding it difficult to "sell-high'' a player who is scoring 12 points per game.

The Grizzlies have a crowd of capable bodies at Mayo's position, but they are only capable. The Grizzlies have Mayo under contract next year at $5.6 mil. And the 6-4, 210-pounder is just 23. There are reasons for Memphis to sit on this …

And there are reasons for Dallas to sit this one out.

We are told that the Mavs do not view Mayo as "star-quality'' – and this evaluation comes regardless of his problems with Slurpees and Old Maid. He is the style of player that tops Dallas' wish list, and he plays the right position.

But he represents "The Mayo Line'' – the line of demarcation that Dallas will not approach when it comes to paying a premium price for a "star,'' the cellar that the Mavs will not bother spending assets to climb the stairs down towards.

‘MELO'S MIND: We have written this a few times: What Carmelo Anthony wants to do, and where and when he wants to do it, changes depends on which member of his entourage answers the phone.


‘Melo himself is now answering the phone, and guess what?

He is now saying that he'll consider signing a contract extension with the Nuggets.

Anthony said he would "take a real hard look" at signing a three-year, $65 million extension with the Nuggets if he isn't dealt by the NBA's Feb. 24 deadline, according to the Denver Post.

We've written this before, too, but we will reiterate it as well: The smartest people in the NBA (or at least the smartest we talk to) have always been astounded at ‘Melo's unwillingness to re-up in Denver. Denver is not NY … but the Nuggets are a contending team and that $65-mil payday, signed before the coming labor strife, gives him money he may not necessarily see again.

And while we are patting ourselves on the back: We educated-guessed that ‘Melo-to-the-Lakers was some sort of ploy/joke, and now even Anthony himself agrees.

"I've never heard of that,'' he said. "That was a new one," he said. "Every day is something different. I guess now is the Lakers."

Of course, "every day is something different'' in large part because the ‘Melo camp is offering up different answers every day. The only thing known for certain about Anthony now is that he'll be in Denver tonight … and that the Mavs will be there with him. We'll have all-day/all-night/and all-day-again coverage of it all on

HEY, Houston, UP HERE!: The Houston Chronicle is noting that the Rockets are in active pursuit of a starting center.


Which, of course, Mavs Premium readers knew all about two months ago, when we first told you about Houston's scouting of Brendan Haywood occurring right along with Dallas' expressing an interest in Kevin Martin.

Last time we checked, these teams remain two ships passing in the night on this concept. (Meaning, they haven't specifically exchanged notes on each others' guys.) But we continue to tout it as a worthwhile concept (at least the Big Wood-to-Houston part, anyway) because we're not sure Haywood is as laughable an option as so many think.

To wit, our Michael Dugat checks out the Chronicle's list of Rockets center targets and the paper's comments on each player (in bold), and follows up with our evaluations:

Samuel Dalembert - Second season with Kings. Has expensive, expiring contract, but is a strong defensive center.

Samuel Dalembert was once one of the notoriously bad contracts the Philadelphia 76ers were trying to discard. Time has passed, and the jersey has changed, and what was once an albatross of a contract -- $12,200,000 -- is now reasonably attractive as it expires after this season.

If you are looking for a solid defensive presence in the middle with a reputation for the occasional uninspired play, Dalembert fits your desires perfectly. On most nights, he is not on offensive presence via a strong post-up game, not the fact that he has only reached double digits in scoring eight times in 47 chances this season, though he can make an impact on the offensive boards.

One possible concern beyond his lack of consistency from play-to-play is the fact that the Kings are the second team in the recent past to name him the preseason favorite to claim the starting center role only to grow frustrated with his production in that role.

His stat line: 5.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 20.6 minutes, 13.1 PER. Hardly stout enough to make the idea of Big Wood (3.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and one block per) embarrassing.

Marcus Camby -- Expensive, but Houston resident would be ideal fit.

For a team a center away from contending in the immediate future, there may be no better fit than the 36-year-old Marcus Camby. He remains an impact on the interior of a defense as well as on the glass and has the range to step outside and drain a jumper almost as deep as the three-point line. His stat line: 5.9 points, 11.3 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 28.7 minutes, 16.2 PER.

As has been the case for much of his career, is the fact that Camby is oft-injured. He is nearing a return from knee surgery (no firm timetable has been set, but it has been reported that a return is likely prior to the All-Star break) and has missed 13 games already this season. Over the course of his 14 prior seasons, Camby has only managed to take part in 70 or more games four times. Though, to be fair, three of those instances have come in the past four seasons.

Again, if Camby is the final piece, he may come as an ideal fit. For a team requiring a few years to grow, he likely won't be around long enough to be anything more than a stop-gap solution. He's certainly a more attractive player than Haywood (consider that Camby's two years left are at $8,453,250 and $9,256,500, while Haywood is locked in at $8.5 mil a year for five guaranteed seasons.)

Also there's this: Why would Portland dump him again? Because he's "a Houston resident''?

Chris Kaman -- Seventh season with Clippers. An expensive burden on team building around youth.

Chris Kaman is quickly falling into the category of "what could have been." We've seen All-Star level talent, but all too frequently we're also seeing the perils of an injury plagued career that is never quite allowed to get fully rolling.

For the 2010-11 season, Kaman has played in only 10 of a possible 52 games and continues to sit with a bum left ankle that most thought would allow him back to the court in early January. He may be close to a return, and it's possible the Clippers have been careful to keep him from the court for fear of wrecking any trade value he may retain, but the past remains.

When healthy, Kaman is easily the most all-around potent offensive option on this list. He has a decent jumper and can back his defender into the paint where he has the ability to finish. But Dirk's German brother doesn't have the right numbers in either category.

His stats: 10.5 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 26.5 minutes, 11 PER

His dollars; $11,300,000; $12,200,000)

Omer Asik -- Second season with Bulls. Young talent with room to grow on contender's bench.

Omer Asik has shown signs of promise for a contending Bulls team. With the impending return of Joakim Noah and their glaring need at shooting guard, he may become the most valuable chip Chicago is willing to part with.

At 7-foot and only 24 years old, Asik has the size and tools most team desire from the center position. He likely won't be ready to start for a contender in the immediate future, hence his possible availability from the Bulls, but would be a project worth investing in for teams with the time to do so.

But Houston isn't make noise about trying to acquire a "project.'' Asik is cheap ($1,721,000; $1,857,500) and not yet exactly productive (2.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 0.7 blocks, 11.4 minutes, 11.4 PER). Is that Morey's goal?

DeAndre Jordan -- Third season with Clippers. Former Aggie, but he would be tough to get out of L.A.

Considering the affordable nature of his contract, particularly in comparison with Chris Kaman, and the young core surrounding him with the Clippers in Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin, you would have to believe DeAndre Jordan would be on the list of "keepers" for Los Angeles.

He has supreme athletic ability to go with good size. If he is made available you may be able to surmise one of a few options are in play. One, the attitude has been rumored to carry is no longer deemed worth the hassle for the Clippers. Two, there are no possible takers for Kaman, and if he is not going to be moved the team has decided not to risk trying to resign Jordan this summer with money they may not have. Three, they truly believe in Kaman to the level that they no longer see a need to keeping Jordan.

With two viable centers, when healthy, it will be interesting to see how this one plays out. But there is little logic to LAC giving away a kid with attractive numbers in every way (salary: $854,389 … stats: 7 points, 7 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, 25.7 minutes, 14.5 PER).

We know that at Mavs HQ, most deep-thinkers still believe Haywood will be a useful weapon come playoff time. Meanwhile, we know the fan base and media in Houston won't find the idea of Brendan Haywood as sexy as some of the aforementioned five names. But we still believe that a team in search of a starting center can be expected to expand its search list to, let's say, six names.

CAN STEVE NASH COME 'HOME'?: by Fish, Feb 9 2011

The notion of two-time MVP Nash being returned by the Suns to Dallas in a deadline deal is a seductive one. … and it makes grand sense on one level:

"He's a player and person of such high quality,'' says one source close to Nash, "that (Dallas) wouldn't worry about minutes or role or personalities. You get a guy like that, you play him. He's a player.''


Lovely. But beyond that? This is a fairy-tale angle driven by the thoughtful Marc Stein and the fanciful Bill Simmons, both of them talented, both of them repping ESPN, both of them – I say respectfully – entangled in the romance of the idea.

Steiny-Mo has reported that Dallas is among the teams that have engaged in some level of contact with the Suns in what appears to me to be a "if-you-ever-wanna-dump-him'' conversation. But as important as it is to credit Marc for getting this information, it's just as important to note what the savvy reporter did with this information:

No three-inch headlines. No breaking-into-"SportsCenter'' pronouncement. A 1,720-word story and no mention of Dallas in the first 1,020 words of it.

Just a mention way down in the 21st paragraph.

What does that tell you about what Steiny-Mo himself thinks of the weightiness of this story?

Here's what the Mavs think: Phoenix has no intention of trading Steve Nash. When Suns GM Lon Babby calls Nash "the sun, the moon and the stars'' of the franchise, he may be UNDERSELLING what Nash means to the club.

Just this side of ‘Melo, Steve Nash is also "the sun, the moon and the stars'' of tinkerers with access to the ESPN Trade Machine. And that's where Simmons comes in. "The Sports Guy'' has given this Nash-back-to-Dallas idea traction by writing that he "want(s) Phoenix to trade Nash to Dallas for the following reasons:

They owe it to him. He's loyal, he's Canadian, and he cares too much about the inner workings of a team (and his role as the leader of the team) to ever undermine a situation by pushing publicly for a deal. …

2. You gotta love the wrinkle of Dallas reacquiring Nash when it never should have let him go in the first place. How often does a franchise get to atone for a mistake on that level?

3. A reunion of Dirk, Nash and Cuban allows them to recreate one of the unintentionally funniest pictures in the history of sports. Also, how much fun would it be to have best friends and two of the best 35 players ever (Nowitzki and Nash) chasing their first title with the one owner who can definitively say "I got screwed out of a ring" (Cuban)?

4. Of the contenders, Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, San Antonio, Utah and Oklahoma City don't need a point guard; Miami, Atlanta and Orlando don't have enough to trade; the Nuggets are out because they're being held hostage by Carmelo; and the Lakers don't match up (I can't see either team doing a Bynum/Blake for Nash/Gortat deal). So who's left? Dallas! The Mavs could offer Rodrigue Beaubois (a legitimate trade chip), Caron Butler's expiring deal (with the promise that Phoenix waives him so Dallas can re-sign him), DeShawn Stevenson's expiring, their 2011 No. 1 pick and $3 million for Nash, Grant Hill and Josh Childress (whose unseemly contract would be the Trade Tax for giving up Nash and Hill).

5. What's a better feel-good story than (A) the Nash-Dirk reunion; (B) the Nash-Marion reunion; (C) the Nash-Cuban reunion; and (D) Nash, Hill, Jason Kidd and Nowitzki making a run at the Finals together? Anything? Throw in Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion, Jason Terry, Peja Stojakovic and Brendan Haywood's corpse and that's a pretty fascinating nine-man rotation. I don't think Dallas can win a title with the team it has. With Nash? It could win. Phoenix owes it to Nash (and really, CUBAN owes it to Nash) to pull the trigger.

In summary, Bill Simmons is reporting on the possibility of a Nash-to-the-Mavs trade because …

Bill Simmons thinks it would be FUN. For HIM.

Now, if you want "fun'' and "fantasy,'' you just visited Basketball Disneyland.

Care to come back to the way those involved are actually thinking?

*Stein's report offers subtle hints that Nash, at 37 running out of championship time, himself probably daydreams about such a reunion. (Of course, he may also daydream about playing for the Knicks, Lakers, Heat, Magic, whomever.) In the unlikely event that "dream'' becomes "demand,'' it will only be the first step of 100 steps that would be required to make such a miracle happen. And those 100 steps would need to be navigated in less than two weeks.

*Ask Babby. Ask coach Alvin Gentry, who tells Stein that a trade of Nash would be "my worst nightmare.'' Ask Nash himself. Nobody in Phoenix is thinking along these lines.

Babby has informed Nash that he doesn't want to lose him. Nash was given an extension in 2009 that runs through next season and hasn't argued his way out of the commitment he made.

"I signed up for this," Nash said to the Arizona media. "I'm committed to trying to build a team here. Obviously, last year was a phenomenal year. Tied 2-2 (in the Western Conference Finals), I thought we could win a championship. I genuinely believed we could and would win it. It's tough to be in this position six months later. I'm still committed to it. …''I'm still happy. I just want to try to win games for these fans and our team ..."

*One high-placed NBA source hinted to me that while Suns owner Robert Sarver is "overly budget-conscious,'' I should "add up all the factors'' before I assume that he'd trade Nash for cap relief or any other financial reason.

I needed another hint.

"Nash is box-office,'' he said, and I was told to add up the losses in ticket sales for the next two years in Phoenix if they trade away their "sun and moon and stars'' for Caron Butler's $10.6-million expiring contract.

I'm not smart enough to actually do that math. But I understand the concept.

*Those who are attempting to calculate where Nash would fit into the Dallas lineup, rotation and locker room are wasting ink. (Though I will tout some Boards threads in which there is some very smart ink.) Let me repeat my source's aforementioned remark: "He's a player and person of such high quality, that (Dallas) wouldn't worry about minutes or role or personalities. You get a guy like that, you play him. He's a player.''

In other words, it's a non-issue because it's not happening … but even if fantasies came true, it's still a non-issue.

* To some of Bill's very specific reasoning:

They owe it to him.

This is SPORTS. This is BUSINESS. There is no "owe.''

He's Canadian.

I am stumped.

You gotta love the wrinkle of Dallas reacquiring Nash when it never should have let him go in the first place. How often does a franchise get to atone for a mistake on that level?

Bill, you might want to get Cuban to admit all of that before he goes about correcting a "mistake'' that he won't concede was a "mistake.''

A reunion of Dirk, Nash and Cuban allows them to recreate one of the unintentionally funniest pictures in the history of sports. Also, how much fun would it be to have best friends and two of the best 35 players ever (Nowitzki and Nash) chasing their first title with the one owner who can definitively say "I got screwed out of a ring" (Cuban)?

Fun! Funny pictures! Giggles! That might be how Simmons' adopted LA Clippers run their team, but …

Phoenix owes it to Nash … to pull the trigger.

The Western Conference Suns owe it to somebody to help the Western Conference Mavericks win a championship? Not until Jerry West is simultaneously a team executive with two different teams will a trade like that ever transpire.

Seriously, there is no compelling reason – financial or competitive or otherwise – for the Phoenix Suns to trade Steve Nash.

To summarize: There is nobody who is saying this will happen. There is nobody writing this will happen. There is no involved party who has even expressed a willingness for it to happen. There is Stein's skill as a journalist and there is his friendship with Nash – but even that hasn't produced a factoid that at this time makes Nash-to-Mavs a legitimate story. There is only the idea from a prominent columnist and a host of Dallas Mavericks fans who think it would be FUN.

And I will concede, it would be "fun'' to bring Steve Nash "home'' … if he didn't already have one.

But if we're fantasizing about All-Star point guards with Dallas ties, it would be more "fun'' to bring Deron Williams "home.''

Will somebody please inform the Utah Jazz that they "owe it'' to us to make that happen?

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