Inside No-Trade Story: Are Mavs 'Vinsane'?
The trade occurred on Wednesday, sending Rudy Gay from Memphis to Toronto, with point guard Jose Calderon and Ed Davis being sent back to Memphis along with a draft pick, and then Calderon being routed on to Detroit (making it a 3-way swap) because Memphis didn't want him. Multiple reports say the Gay for Calderon-Davis swap was ready for several days while the teams searched for a taker for Calderon, a player on the Mavs' radar back in the summer.
Could Dallas have been the solution?
The Mavs' struggles at point guard this season have been well chronicled, as they've shuffled bodies in and out and given extended opportunity to every candidate on their roster, with less-than-stellar results so far. And back in the summer, the Mavs had hopes that Toronto would put Calderon on the amnesty list, so they could scoop him up for far less than the $10.6M he is currently making. When that didn't happen, the Mavs looked elsewhere.
When Memphis began looking for a taker for Calderon, Dallas made some sense.
From an on-court perspective, he could have helped. He's a veteran who's always been an efficient scorer (this season 11 ppg on 47% shooting, 43% on 3s, and 90% on free throws) and can also run an offense (7.4 assists this season in about 28 mpg). And he fit off the court as well, in that his expiring contract would have worked into the Mavs' ongoing game plan of keeping a flexible roster.
In addition, there were easy ways for the Mavs to get in the deal and satisfy the NBA's trade rules, if they wished to be involved. Using the framework of the brewing trade, Gay could have been sent to Toronto, Davis to Memphis, and Calderon to Dallas, and all the Mavs would have had to do would be to send either Kaman or Marion to Memphis to make the deal CBA-legal. A plain 4-player deal, two different ways to do it, simple as pie.
Of course one or both of those options might not have been the preferences for both Memphis and Dallas, but easy trade matching was available.
A trickier version also existed, where the Mavs could have cobbled together a minimum of ~ $7M in salary using 3 or more players. But as the bodies accumulate in a midseason trade, it becomes more of a challenge to have both sides agree on what set of 3-5 players might be the right ones in terms of value gained and lost, as well as figuring out how to have room for all the players to change teams without any team exceeding the 15-man limit. Possible, but trickier.
Would a deal with Memphis using Kaman or Marion have possibly made sense in some way to both teams? Absolutely. With Kaman, he has somewhat fallen out of favor in Dallas, and Memphis might have been eager for another big man considering they recently had to give away backup center Speights to avoid paying tax this season. With Marion, moving him would have freed more cap room for the Mavs this summer, and in trading Gay the Grizzlies were opening a hole in their contending team at small forward that they needed to fill. While we can see reasons why those players also might not have been traded, positive motivations certainly were there and could have prevailed.
So what happened?
Before this trade opportunity was pitched to them, DallasBasketball.com had already spoken to the Mavs and learned that they liked Calderon, but hadn't even considered him at all in quite some time. They originally had considered him because, as a potential amnesty candidate, he would have been relatively cheap and fit quite nicely in their salary structure. When that didn't happen, his $10.6M salary represented too much of their player budget and they turned away.
But their lessened interest also had to do with the context of the season. Dirk's lengthy absence and the team's struggles turned the campaign into something quite different than they ever anticipated. The work to develop Collison and Mayo at guard has been extensive, and they almost certainly have more value for the Mavs future than Calderon could have. The addition of Calderon, therefore, carried a bit of downside, bringing with it some potential to slow the progress being made.
However, when the Grizzlies called and invited the Mavs to get involved, Dallas had interest. At the right price.
We believe this is the full picture of how that back-and-forth went.
Memphis' priority with Calderon was one of landing a player to fill the hole left by Gay at small forward, and the Mavs had three options that would have fit the trade rules and made sense to discuss: (1) Marion, (2) Carter plus Kaman, or (3) Carter with at least two more lesser salaried players. Option 1 would have been embraced by Memphis but the Mavs considered Marion too valuable to even discuss. Option 3 was undesirable to Memphis, because in order for them to take two or more players besides Carter, they would have had to clear out several roster slots prior to doing such a deal. Not interested in that.
But they still had one discussable possibility left: Carter plus Kaman. For the Grizzlies, that would have been ideal: they would have gotten both their backup center and also a replacement for Gay, two solid players who would fit perfectly into their rotation. Unfortunately for the Mavs, it made no sense to give away that much value for a short-term PG who might get in the way of developing Collison and Mayo, probably wouldn't return next season, and whose addition to help the playoff chase in the short run would have been negated by the loss of two solid players.
In addition, Carter has become somewhat prized by the Mavs. He's played well, he's very productive, his contract is relatively modest, and he's provided a solid veteran presence in a sea of kids.
But rather than giving a flat no, the Mavs did counter. The Grizzlies wanted Kaman plus Carter, and the Mavs offered Kaman without Carter.
However the Pistons found an alternative buyer in Detroit, with Tayshaun Prince to fill the SF need, and when the Mavs wouldn't include Carter with their Kaman offer, they were out and Detroit was in.
Is it a big loss? We don't think so. Carter and Kaman for Calderon is a one-sided trade. While Calderon would have helped the PG play and as a veteran presence, sending away Carter and Kaman would have lost them more than they stood to gain by his addition, and the odds were quite high he would have been a short-timer in Dallas. In addition, there might be other assets moving at the trade deadline that can add much more to this team - spending so much for little gain just made no sense at all.
A suitor came calling to the Bank of Cuban. But they wanted too much, offered too little, and were told no. So the Bank is still open; who might be next?
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