Exclusive: Mavs On Trix/Haywood Deadline Plan

To sound ‘cool' or ‘inside,' jockworld Woodward-Bernstein wanna-bes often misuse ‘sources.' Preferred is on-the-record and for attribution – which is exactly what DB.com has done with Mavs GM Donnie Nelson on Haywood and Marion's future and Dallas being deadline ‘buyers vs. sellers.' It's on-the-record and it's Inside Mavs HQ: ‘Our approach,' Donnie tells me, ‘is that it would be an insult ...

In order to sound ‘cool' or ‘inside,' jockworld Woodward-Bernstein wanna-bes often misuse the word and the tool we call "sources.'' Journalism 101 less: It is always preferred (albeit less "cool''-sounding, I guess) to get the quotes on-the-record and for attribution.

Twice this week, the same DFW reporter approached Dallas Mavericks subjects (Rick Carlisle one day and Lamar Odom another) and, with me standing two feet away, began his interview by saying, "Hey, speaking completely off the record …''
Problem 1: HEY, JAMES BOND! I AM STANDING RIGHT NEXT TO YOU! How did my colleague not understand that in the unlikely event he was given a juicy answer, that juicy answer is now fair game for me to ask Rick or Lamar about on the record … and for me to do so at a later moment when my colleague is not standing within earshot … so that I would therefore break HIS story?

I mean, what are they teaching in Journalism school nowadays?

Problem 2: To BEGIN the questioning session with the offer of off-the-record conversation blocks the possibility that the subject might give you an important answer. The offer of an off-the-record is the last resort, not the first resort. But … "off the record'' sounds so intimate, so inside, so cool!

Same thing with sources.

We aren't support to offer the cloak of anonymity without a damn good reason. Now, it's Trade Rumor Traffic time, and we all tend to get a little more loosey-goosey on stuff; we're not discussioning National Security here, only whether the Celtics wanna dump Rondo – so leeway is permissible, I say.

Nevertheless, a news story about a controversial or important subject that is printed with the help of an involved person who is willing to go on the record? Worth journalistic gold.

Or, if not "gold,'' at least worth today's nine cents.
Which brings me to my conversation with Mavs GM Donnie Nelson.

I ask forthright questions on two subjects:

One, will the next two weeks of on-court play in any way change your thoughts on the Mavs being "buyers'' or "sellers'' at the deadline? You aren't selling now, but what if we get to March 15 and the Mavs don't look like legit contenders?

Two, smart Mavs observers know what Shawn Marion's Summer of 2012 destiny might be. And Brendan Haywood's, too. And those two guys themselves understand, believe me. So, Donnie, before the rumors start regarding you moving Shawn and/or Brendan now instead of then, will you address the plans?
"Let me put it this way,'' Donnie tells me. "Our approach is that it would be an insult for management to go to any of these players and tell them they can't win. These guys have rings. They CAN win. This is a group of guys who are very devoted to trying to do it again.

"Now,'' Donnie continues, "not all of them were on last year's team. And each guy is cut from different cloth. Let me tell you something about Delonte West: That hand/finger surgery thing, it's supposed to be three more weeks before he comes back. But the kid is about ready to take a hacksaw to his wrist so he can come back out there and be a Dallas Maverick.

"And somebody thinks I should tell him he can't win?''

One more from Nelson in summary: "When Mark (Cuban) uses the word ‘opportunistic,' he's not just blowing smoke. Our name of the game is championship contention. So I'm not going to address any specific player. But no, we're not ‘dumping' people or doing things like that. If it doesn't have to do with championship contention, we're not doing it.''

I sense some Mavs fans misunderstanding about "dumping'' as it relates to The 3D Blueprint and the summer of 2012. Now, this is me talking, not Donnie. But understand: Trading Marion or Haywood now is not more desirable or more easy than in July as they could in March. They are under no pressure to do so for the future edition of the team, and if they do so they weaken the present edition of the team. Will some NBA team in July want to "help'' the Mavs by acquiring Marion or Haywood? It's not about that. It's about each franchise helping itself, and adding players of their caliber will be helpful for their future teams.

Or …

Marion and Haywood might be helpful to the team they're already on.

The excitement of The 3D Blueprint has caused that aforementioned misunderstandings and lots of assumptions, too. The writers who are telling you they "guarantee'' Deron and Dwight are coming to Dallas? They've done no research. They are slapping on hogwash. The reason the Mavs don't want to trade to clear room now is because they only want to strip down so completely if they acquire BOTH Williams and Howard.
Remember, Dallas can easily find cap room to get one of them.

Now, Mavs owner Mark Cuban may be step-away-from-his-crack-dealering when he says the following on a Bill Simmons podcast:

"So, Deron Williams, Dwight Howard, all these guys that people talk about are out there, but that might not be the best decision for us. It may be better for us to pay our existing guys, keep our existing guys. It may be better for us to wait another year, because in the third year of the CBA, the new tax kicks in with the big escalators and then that pushes down the price of players, so we might be in a better position waiting for Year 3 or Year 4, just depending on what it is, to go out and get that complement to Dirk or the next Dirk, whatever it may be."

That's not the primary goal, obviously. But it does illustrate how wide-open Dallas' considerations are and should be.

Now, backing away from that crack dealer ...

So this summer, Dallas will first explore the willingness of Howard and Williams to sign in Dallas. Then, if they get two answers in the affirmative, Donnie and Cuban will have two weeks to push the ensuing dominoes. They'll make some transactions as quickly as in a day, as happened in December in two separate deals involving Odom and Rudy/Corey. They'll do it the way Miami did in in the wake of joining LeBron and Bosh with Wade.

And they'll do it with ease, because remember, teams with cap room have to spend that cap room. The Mavs, in the 3D scenario, are going to be willing to give away talented players with very reasonable contracts and will therefore be offering some of the most desirable choices possible in this otherwise-soft 2012 free agency.

But that's then. This is now. And for now, Shawn Marion and Brendan Haywood are starters on a defending champion prepared to be "opportunistic'' in contending again.

That's Premium Mavs information. The facts are straight and the "sources'' are on-the-record.

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