DONUT 1: Dallas Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson was trying to be gracious and entertaining. Or maybe he was just trying to entertain himself.
Or maybe he just felt punch-drunk after three essentially sleepless days leading up to Thursday's trade-deadline buzzer.
"Roddy is a very popular Maverick when it comes to receiving phone calls,'' Mavs GM Donnie Nelson said on Thursday in announcing Dallas' lack of trade-deadline activity. "It's his (23rd) birthday, and yes I did sing him Happy Birthday. It was a twangy country version. I don't think he appreciated it.''
What Donnie was trying to say – even in his twangy-country-via-Milwaukee-and-Boston accent -- is that Roddy Beaubois was a sought-after Mav in NBA conversations yesterday. Let me gently counter by saying that the Mavs are sort of using Roddy B as a shield against criticism in this sense: Fans are excited by trades. If you don't make a trade, you'd like to be able to offer a reason. If you offer "We didn't want to give up Roddy B'' as a reason, you are shielded from criticism.
So you explain everything away and avoid the messy details of 400 phone conversations in two days by saying "we love Roddy B'' and buying the kid a birthday cake (thx stevallica) and moving forward.
DONUT 2: "It would have had to have been an over-the-top deal,'' Donnie said. "Or it was an absolute no-brainer.''
It was all about brains, really. CBA-minded brains. Labor-dispute minded brains. I'll give you a specific example of why Dallas didn't acquire any long-term contracts that were attached to guys who weren't "over-the-top'' guys:
Let's say you make a middling move (you outbid Portland for Gerald Wallace, for instance, giving up two No. 1's and a player). That move locks you into undesired salary for two more seasons after this.
But then there is a CBA rule change this summer. It includes the phrase "hard cap.''
Now you are stuck with Gerald Wallace and his contract. That money is locked in and taking up room under a hard cap.
And it's time to sign Tyson Chandler.
You can't afford to sign Tyson Chandler.
DONUT 3: Maybe I've never quite done a good enough job explaining this.
When Dirk Nowitzki accepted a contract last summer that was $4 million a year less than the max, it wasn't directly tied to Dallas somehow spending that extra $4 million that same summer … or this winter.
It was and is a long-term consideration. It gives Dallas not just one winter of extra cash … it gives Dallas four years of potential room under what might be a hard cap.
Dirk's deal will help Dallas re-sign Tyson Chandler. And re-signing Tyson Chandler is infinitely more important to this franchise than having Gerald Wallace under contract for the next two years.
Now do you get it?
DONUT 4: Do these Mavs "deserve'' a chance to go for a title? Was that a factor?
Yes, Donnie said.
"We want to give these guys the freedom to make the run,'' he said. "They've really earned the rights here to make a run for the roses.''
Know that this is what teams always say about their clubs before a trade is made and after a trade is not made. In Boston, for instance, Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge had frequently said that about the Celtics … and then they traded Perkins.
Thus giving ANOTHER group "the right to run for the roses.''
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DONUT 6: Oftentimes in this decade, the deadline has turned into an "arms race'' for West powers. This time around, second-tier teams dumped stars. Somewhere in the middle, OKC attempted to load up in order to distance itself from those teams.
And right at the time? SA, LA and Dallas didn't make any swaps.
"It's a sign that chemistry is really important, and I know San Antonio feels like that as well,'' Nelson said. "And when you've got it, don't mess with it. …One of the arts of management is not screwing things up.''
Again, though, we haven't stumbled across many serious conversations Dallas had that would've dismantled the rotation. Yes, clubs asked about Beaubois, but that wasn't going to happen for anyone less than a star. I presume that JJB was discussed as a throw-in to deals, too. Maybe there was some "chemistry'' impact there. But more, there was the fact that Dallas values Barea as its backup PG.
So "Chemistry Vibe'' remains.
DONUT 7: Now that it's all done, there is nothing wrong with spinning the inability to cash in The Caron Coupon into some sort of support for Butler and his comeback attempt.
"He's part of the fabric of what we've been doing and what we're going to do,'' Donnie said. "In fairness to him, I don't know a guy that's put his heart and soul into this team like he has. He's back there right now as we speak working to get back. And so we really value that kind of person in our locker room.''
Again, that is a polite approach and Caron's comeback attempt is a valiant one.
But it's spin. It really has little to do with why Caron is still here. Had Detroit been willing to take Caron (plus change) in exchange for Tayshaun Prince, a deal would've been done.
Detroit decided it thinks it can Sign-and-Trade away Tayshaun this summer for something better than the No. 1 pick Dallas was likely ready to toss into its Caron-for-Tayshaun proposal. We'll see this summer of the Pistons – who haven't made many wise moves in recent years – get what they believe they'll get.
And Caron to NJ for Devin? That was a no-brainer ... with an eye on the present with Devin and on the future in finding him useful as an heir to Kidd or as a trade chip ... and it was close.
And then came Utah with a blockbuster.
Had Utah never called, Devin would be a Mav and Caron would be in New Jersey today. Oh, and the Nets would've wanted to keep him, too.
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DONUT 9: The next Mavs move? There is room for one more roster body and buyouts are coming. My understanding is that Troy Murphy will want to land in Boston. I know that Dallas has always liked Jared Jeffries. Does Dallas need a shooter like Kapono?
Most intriguing to me would be a backup PG who can be relied upon. Call it an "emergency' PG'' if that makes everybody feel better. Would Texas native T.J. Ford like to come "home'' and sit on the end of the bench?
And if not, maybe Sasha lands back here.
"I don't know how that person would fall into the mix,'' Donnie said, "but I'm sure that we'll be looking at the waiver wire.''
DONUT 10: Jason Terry says the guys who are in the locker room and who will now remain in the locker room can take the stand-pat status as a vote of confidence.
"It's big, it's big because what it does is it instills confidence in the guys that we have from management," Terry said. "We know they believe in us. We know we're a strong team and all it does is reassure us of our thoughts. I know right here, with this team we have in Dallas, we're a contender.''
DONUT 11: That's one way of looking at it. And leave it to Jet to come up with the rose-colored-glasses perspective. Understand, though, that had Dallas opted to make a deal that came with baggage and a bloated financial commitment from ownership, THAT would've been a vote of confidence, too.
Because THAT would've been an indication that Dallas is in go-for-it mode at any cost.
Point is, there IS confidence at Mavs HQ. They DO Love Our Boys In Blue.
But had there been an acceptance in Detroit of the proposal to flip Caron for Tayshaun, we all would've Loved Our Boys In Blue one rotation player more.
DONUT 12: "We were engaged with almost every team in the league at some level,'' Donnie said, and yes, it's difficult for us to even imagine the sheer mathematics of all these officials from all these teams having all these conversations with one another. "You're looking at everything from the here and now, the future – that's what we do. We're just doing our job. But at the end of the day this team has a special chemistry and we feel that we've got something unique here and we're going to give them the freedom to do their thing.''