Fresh Gossip In Mavs Trade Rumor Traffic

We're digging into Josh Smith. Into Dwight conventional wisdom. Into Dallas' goals and the assets. And in this wee-hour update to 'Trade Rumor Traffic,' we chase down the latest gossip on Al Jefferson, JJ Redick and Evan Turner. Fresh rumors (and facts and analysis) as they happen for Premium Mavs Fans!

Trade Rumor Traffic: By 'Futures,' Does Cuban Mean Jennings? Cousins? Bledsoe? Jefferson? - By Fish and D-Lord, Feb. 13

The Dallas Mavericks are saying one thing but doing another, and this is for certain.

Owner Mark Cuban, GM Donnie Nelson and coach Rick Carlisle have habitually suggested how quiet the trade front is as the Feb. 21 deadline approaches.

And yet ...

We've been told that behind the scenes, Dallas has taken calls on Shawn Marion and Vince Carter. So ... not that quiet.

Meanwhile, Cuban dropped a hint of sorts on Monday by noting, "Lots of teams show interest."

That's not quiet, either.

And one more hint that we don't read as "deception'' but rather a continuation of the overall plan to follow the Miami model, one way or the other, and assemble a trio of players that lessens the Dirk Nowitzki.

That hint? Cuban's full remarks on a "future-type player.''

"It would have to be something really, really, really good," Cuban said when asked about taking on a bad contract in order to facilitate the acquisition of a good player. "It's got to be a future-type player that we can build around and really adds a lot. I'd analogize it to Steve Nash. Lots of players we've picked up over time weren't All-Stars, but turned into cornerstones. We'd take those. They don't have to be proven, but it'd have to be someone we think it's just a question of time."

There are at least four scenarios that loosely fit this criteria and have some "buzz'' attached. Let's analyze:
*Al Jefferson, Utah - The furor on a move of Big Al came from a report that the San Antonio Spurs are the "leader" to trade for him. That notion might be especially irritating to the Mavs fan who tires of seeing the Spurs do what the Spurs so frequently do to remain so competitive on an annual basis.

But let's slow down here -- on Al to the Spurs and on Dallas wanting in.

Sheridan says the Spurs and Jazz "are practically incestuous, they are on such good terms internally.'' This suggests that the Jazz might give away the free agent for nothing (Patty Mills, Tiago Splitter, Stephen Jackson's expiring contract) rather than ride him to a playoff run, or get something better at the deadline, or wait until this summer for all the cards to be dealt.

Jefferson is a true post-up force, an offensive weapon, a power forward who can play center. His defensive problems could be covered up, in theory, by the Spurs system.

But we don't think the Jazz will do the Spurs a favor and gift him over. And as to the coming rumors of Dallas being involved -- and trust us, those rumors are coming -- we don't see that, either.

This summer, Jefferson will demand and will get a max contract -- the same sort of contract Dallas will offer Dwight Howard. Dwight is the sort of move Donnie is talking about when he tells us about "trying to win championships.'' Jefferson is the sort of player Dallas already made its decision on two summers ago, when it could've used the DUST Chip to acquire him from Minnesota but decided his contract was too bloated.

The Mavs instead used DUST on Tyson Chandler, a true center (who they eventually didn't want to pay max money to.) If the Mavs are going to pay max money for a big, it's not going to be for an offense-only power forward (Dirk's job) with a salary that prevents a chase for Dwight.

*Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee - We can confirm Marc Stein's note that the Mavs have a "level of interest" in Jennings ... in part because Dallas' admiration for him is long-standing. Jennings is 23, serves as a scoring point guard (18.5 points and 6.1 assists) and can be electrifying box office.

An upside that includes being a building block on a title contender alongside Dirk? Jennings fits. A way to accomplish it financially? Stein notes that Dallas might have to take on ex-Mav Drew Gooden, who is owed $6.7 million in each of the next two seasons. The issue here: Does taking on such ballast block Dallas from eventually acquiring an additional star? The answer is, probably not. So this is immensely more viable than an Al Jefferson deal.

*Eric Bledsoe, Clippers - Our Jonathan Auping has toyed with ways to acquire Bledsoe, noting that like Jennings he's young (23) and has a future that could make him a max player someday.

But because Bledsoe is on his rookie contract, the salary match is a challenge.

Giving up Shawn Marion for Bledsoe? That's a "futures'' deal that works on Dallas' end and helps LAC, too. But it doesn't fit financially. What baggage does LAC throw in to fit? We won't bother exploring Lamar Odom ... so what if the deal is expanded to give the Clippers room ... and Chris Kaman's expiring is involved?

Again, no match, unless LA wants to start considering moving bigger pieces like DeAndre Jordan -- and that's not happening. He's a young foundation piece on a title contender.
Eric Bledsoe is a "future-type player.'' And as the Clippers have a number of different perimeter players, every now and then it leaves Bledsoe lost in the shuffle.

But not lost enough to package him with another talent. No deal.

*Demarcus Cousins, Sacramento -- So not only do we circle back to Cousins, but we do so believing that Dallas has the ammunition to make proposals to both Sacramento for Cousins and to Milwaukee for Jennings.

The obstacles with Cousins remain the same. One, his level of knuckleheadedness is high; his ability to be a future star is matched by his ability to misbehave himself out of basketball. Two, the same arc Dallas sees Cousins climbing is one Sacto sees -- and the Kings made a commitment to him fully aware of all his baggage. And three, the winning bidder on Cousins -- if indeed the Kings listen seriously to offers -- must also likely add to their roster another player who adds salary ballast.

Too many moving parts to out-and-out predict the acquisitions of Jennings and/or Cousins? Yes. So for the moment, look at this as a series of philosophical questions regarding Plan Powder: Do you want Al Jefferson, knowing that it ends your pursuit of Dwight? Do you want to give up on Dwight and instead turn to Cuban's "future-type players''?

We don't believe the Mavs have solidified their answer just yet. We believe that when Cuban says, "It would have to be something really, really, really good," he doesn't yet know exactly what "something really, really, really good'' means.

Around the NBA - By Chuck Perry, Tuesday, Feb. 12

*Nets hot after Josh Smith? - Though Dallas is not be burning up the phone lines in pursuit of Josh Smith, according to sources, the Nets are willing to part with Kris Humphries and Marshon Brooks for the Hawks' star forward. Though this Nets' package does not include the young center that Atlanta stated they desired in return, it is a decent first offer for a star Atlanta looks to be losing anyway.

Would the Nets look to Smith as Dwight Howard bait? No, because they are so far over the cap they cannot offer Howard the max contract he covets this offseason. Further, Howard has previously stated that he does not want to play in Atlanta.

A block of salt is needed, though, with anything Dwight says about his definitive future.

*J.J. Redick on the block? – According to Marc Stein, the asking price for Redick is "expiring(s) and a future first-round pick." The names most frequently linked to Redick are the Bucks, who had questions about his sign-ability beyond this season, the Bulls, who once offered him a contract before Orlando matched, and Indiana Pacers.

Redick's $6 million contract expires this season, so if Orlando is seeking other expiring contracts in return, it would make sense for them to include other contractual ballast along with Redick if they are seeking real cap relief.

Wondering about Dallas here? Nah. It's likely that any Dallas interest in Redick's services, even at a seemingly-low asking price, would be minimal. He has some injury concerns with his shoulder. He plays the same position as O.J. Mayo, who is believed to be in the team's long-term plans (even as that ball will ultimately be in his court).

Even though Redick is enjoying the best statistical season of his career, there's simply no reason for Dallas to ship out their expiring contracts for Redick's expiring and give a first-round pick for the privilege of doing so.

*What about Evan Turner – According to sources, the Sixers are testing the trade waters for what third-year swing man Evan Turner would bring in return. Though the 76ers envisioned a core of Jrue Holliday, Evan Turner and Andrew Bynum as a rising Eastern Conference power, Turner has not panned out as the foundational piece he was projected as when he was drafted No. 2 overall. He is an above average playmaker with three-point range (> 40% this season), and should still be expected to have some undeveloped potential to any suitors.

That star potential is likely central to any pitch the Sixers will use to sell suitors on Turner. As reported, it's possible that the Sixers are merely gauging interest on the young swingman and not actively trying to move him.

When Mark Cuban talks openly about "futures'' is trade targets, does Turner fit? We're digging into this and plan more on "futures'' by Wednesday.

*Shumpert, the Suns, and Al Jefferson – The Phoenix Suns seem to be connected to every rumor in some way. A few days ago, reports surfaced that the Suns were interested in Iman Shumpert with Jared Dudley being the primary piece offered in return. Now, reports are surfacing that Utah will face difficulty keeping Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Gordon Hayward long-term, and thus will seek to move one of them.

According to Ric Bucher, Jefferson is the likeliest to stay right now, citing other NBA executives. Enter the Suns, who are now reportedly offering Marcin Gortat, in addition to Jared Dudley for one of the Jazz big men or Hayward.

Would the Mavs' have any interest in any of these names? It's always worth noting -- as we have often over the years when it comes especially to Big Al -- that Jefferson and Milsap both play the same position as Nowitzki. (Jefferson plays some center in Utah, though ... and maybe that's also worth noting.) has been all over Jefferson-to-Dallas insights over the years. We will do so again in the coming days.

Shumpert brings many physical gifts to the table – plus defense and top athleticism, namely, and may eventually develop into a difference-maker at the guard position, but his development trails that of Darren Collison as a decision-maker. No Dallas fit there? Does Hayward makes sense for Dallas? Our understanding is that Utah will ultimately view him as a keeper and that it's Al-vs.-Milsap that will be what the Jazz decision centers on.

Ranking the Mavs' Goals and Assets - By Chuck Perry, Monday, Feb. 11

We've talked multiple times about the Dallas Mavericks' goals this season without really defining what those goals are. Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson have not yet provided the media and fans with a PowerPoint presentation on the subject. But they have offered us some guidelines. And we are in position to "educated-guess'' the specifics.

Obviously, every move is made with the best interests of the franchise in mind. While that nebulous concept has taken many specific forms since June of 2011, in the short term, we believe the Mavericks' Trade Deadline goals should be as follows:

1) Upgrade the overall talent base. While this is certainly always a goal, its importance moves higher on the list given the mass exodus of talent that occurred after the adoption of the New CBA and Dallas' on court struggles in the "Plan Powder" Era. As outlined below, Dallas has a significant number of assets that are attractive both for what they bring on the court and the financial flexibility their contracts could bring potential trade partners.

2) If possible, preserve the financial flexibility necessary to acquiring another superstar. Though it may seem that financial flexibility has been the recent primary endpoint of the franchise, in reality, it has only been the means to acquiring top-shelf talent. Therefore, should some franchise be willing to part with their superstar only if Dallas accepts a bad contract or two as well, they would be foolish not to listen.

3) Remain as competitive as possible this season. Though Donnie Nelson has stated to that the franchise's benchmark is "championships," the odds of that occurring this season are impossibly slim. Further, with Dallas' recent uptick in play since the new year, the Mavericks seem perilously close the borderline of being good enough to convince themselves not to break up the team but not good enough to make any serious noise in the postseason.

With those goals in mind, let's look at the Mavs' most attractive assets.
1) Vince Carter – Though 36 years old, Carter is having his best season, on a per minute basis, since his first stint in Orlando. Further, his $3 million salary this season and next qualifies him as underpaid relative to his production. For the right team, Carter's arrival could be viewed as the type of move that puts a team over the top in the short run while not sacrificing long term financial flexibility.

And make no mistake, as has reported exclusively: Vince has NOT been given a no-trade guarantee by the front office.

2) Shawn Marion – Though Marion doesn't bring Carter's offensive game to the table, he is still an elite defender who doesn't need the ball in his hands to generate points on offense. SynergySports rates Marion as the 49th best defender in the NBA in spot-up situations and 26th off of screens. Marion is owed $8.6 million and $9.3 million this season and next, but for a contender in need of a lockdown defender, few are better than ‘Trix.
Interestingly, Marion recently claimed that he would not report to a team if it was a "(expletive) situation." Though that may be viewed by some as trying to scare away bad teams from acquiring Marion, it's likely a non-issue as most lottery-bound squads won't beat down the door for a 34-year-old forward making $9 million. Further, you can bet he will be privy to Dallas' negotiations and would have his concerns assuaged before Dallas attempted to consummate any deal.

One more thing here. Read between the lines of 'Trix' protests. He eventually has worn down to the point where on Saturday night, his remarks were a concession of sorts.

"I'm just playing ball," Marion said. "When (trade) situations arise, I'm going to let it take care of itself. But right now, I'm a Dallas Maverick and that's what it's about."

So, no, he won't be traded to a loser. But he might be traded to a team in need of a final piece. And that will take care of itself, no matter what Shawn says or what Shawn wants.

3) Chris Kaman – Though his numbers are down this season, much of that is due to playing his fewest minutes per game since his rookie campaign. His offensive game is as good as ever, and he's enjoying his best shooting season of the last four years. He's still an elite P&R big man on offense and can space the floor for driving guards with his shooting range. Further, his $8 million expiring contract the Mavericks to bring in a player with a star-level salary from any team in need of financial flexibility.
4) Darren Collison – Though he's rarely mentioned among Dallas' potential tradable assets, he is still a young point guard on the rise with blazing speed on both ends playing on cheap contract. There will always be a market for that type of player in the NBA.

5) Brandan Wright/ Bernard James - Beauty will be in the eye of the beholder here as to which one is preferred over the other. However, both project as promising young big men with the potential to get better. Though Wright makes twice as much as Sarge, ($992k to $473k) both are cheap by NBA standards and would be considered "sweeteners" to any deal they were involved.

6) Dahntay Jones - He is relatively little used this season, and his primary value in any deal is his $2.9 million expiring contract.

Though it's highly possible that the Mavericks make no moves at the deadline this season, when assessing the validity of any rumor you read, keep in mind what Dallas is trying to accomplish and the tools they have available at their disposal.

Coming up in a future entry in Trade Rumor Traffic: If J.J. Redick, Iman Shumpert or Evan Turner are available, where might they end up, and would Dallas have any interest in them?

Mavs Trade Rumor Traffic: The Bank Is Open, But Does The Fit Exist? - by David Lord, 420pm, Feb. 9

As we kick off TRT and head down the stretch toward the trade deadline, there are two keys to understanding the Mavs' trade possibilities.

First, the Bank of Cuban is open - but it isn't as open as we want to think.

When Cuban declared recently that the "The Bank of Cuban is open," it led to the idea that the Mavs might do anything as a result. But what went unnoticed was that Cuban said specifically it's open for a specific type of move, which is the move that allows the Mavs to land the foundational franchise-level star to build around.

Once you recognize that, then you realize that it was never really closed; they have always been willing to spend to add that guy, if he had been offered. But wild spending on marginal upgrades is not on the menu at all.

Second, there will be multiple valuable desirable players who the Mavs won't chase at the deadline, or in the summer, because of a specific "fit" problem.

We will see articles linking the Mavs with players who should be able to make the team better. But they won't get pursued in Dallas. It's the problem with Josh Smith (see below), and it will be there with lots of other names we'll hear (put the already-moved Rudy Gay in this category as well).

The problem we're talking about isn't about position, but rather a roster-building fit.

The "fit" problem? The Mavs only have cap room to add one big-money player this spring or summer. So with each potential acquisition, the question being asked will be: "Should this guy be our one-and-done that would justify spending all our 2013 chips to acquire?"

With Gay, the answer was "No." For a player like Josh Smith, who plays the same position as Dirk, I say it will almost certainly be the same. They may be players who can help, but not the guy to hitch the wagon to.

Wouldn't getting a player like Josh Smith help them land Dwight Howard? Nope, it's just the opposite. The presence of Smith would mean they wouldn't be able to fit Howard into their cap room. Pick one as a target, or pick the other, but -- pending unforeseen movement or unprecedented sacrifice on the part of the players -- you won't be able to have both.

Mavs Trade Rumor Traffic: Does Josh Smith Make Sense For Dallas? - by Chuck Perry and Fish, 1pm, Feb. 9

With the NBA trade deadline a little less than two weeks away, the rumors are starting to fly fast and furious. Teams are awakening to the realities of the new CBA. (see: Grizzlies, Memphis) while others may be pushing the chips forward and going all-in this season (see: Clippers, Los Angeles). Still others are somewhere in the middle, not yet decided whether to be "buyers," or "sellers," before Feb 21st at 4pm CST.

At this moment -- based our on on-the-record conversations with Mavs GM Donnie Nelson and based on behind-the-scenes talks with other Dallas principals -- we know that while the Dallas Mavericks are preparing to accept their fate as a "seller,'' their competitiveness has them falling into this third, undecided, category.

Based on what we have heard recently from the organization, and the still-technically-possible shot at a playoff appearance this season, Dallas' current home stand will go a long way in determining which way the organization goes at the trade deadline.

String some wins together, and do not be surprised if the Mavericks hold the current roster together in an attempt to make a run this season. The ".500 Beards'' say that about the people on the court; ownership's "Bank of Cuban'' statement says it about the front office.

But we anticipate things going the other way, and therefore we anticipate Dallas looking to move some of their attractive assets to facilitate rebuilding and "Plan Powder.''

In any case, Dallas will, as always, be "opportunistic," (a cliche, but also a reality) and seek to make the best deal for the franchise. That said, there are plenty to big names rumored to be in play this year, so let's dive into the biggest name available at the moment: Josh Smith.

We know Atlanta is listening to offers. According to David Aldridge, despite Atlanta offering Smith a 3-year, $47 million contract extension (the maximum currently allowed by the CBA), Smith is holding out for a max deal this offseason. Atlanta wants to remain a player for this summer's free agents (where the Hawks might by Dallas' main competition for some of the marquee names) and thus the source of the current trade rumors.

If Atlanta seeks to move Smith, whichever team might land him would be acquiring him with the knowledge of his desired contract and would need to view him as a long-term foundation piece of a team.

What do we believe is the potential Mavs' interest level? Call it "Medium.'' Reportedly, Atlanta would be looking for a quality young center in addition to, ostensibly, cap relief in exchange for Smith. The skills and salaries of Bernard James and/or Brandan Wright mean Dallas could put together a package that satisfies the Hawks' desires. A Chris Kaman or Shawn Marion plus Brandan Wright/Bernard James two-for-one swap works by the salary-matching rules and would likely be the foundational pieces to any deal.
However, our understanding is that Dallas has limited interest in acquiring Smith at that price. Though his contract expires at the end of the season, Smith plays the same position as Nowitzki. His game, though heady at both ends of the floor, does not fit the rugged Tyson Chandler-model big man next to which Nowitzki flourishes. Further, privately, Dallas does not view Smith as a max contract-worthy player. He is only 27 but has never averaged 20 points per game in a season and is having his worst shooting campaign since 2006-07.

Still, the numbers are there: Smith is averaging 16.9 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 4.0 assists per game. He's one of the league's top defensive forwards. And he can be a spectacular drawing-card-type player.

Smith's most alluring attribute? He's a close friend of Dwight Howard. The team that employs Josh gives itself an improved shot at Dwight. That doesn't make all the pieces fit financially, but as we saw last summer with Deron Williams liking New Jersey even more because of the Joe Johnson pickup (something the Mavs viewed as crippling to the Nets' chances), players don't care about your future cap problems. They want friends. They want toys. And they want them now.

(In a coming piece, we'll let our David Lord explain how difficult it would be for Dallas to sign both Smith and Howard.)

That Dwight-related fact will be as a much of a determining factor regarding Josh's future as will contractual price or trade costs.

Coming Up: On Sunday, in addition to full game coverage of Mavs-Warriors, we'll break down Dallas' assets, take a big-picture view of the Mavs' approach to the deadline this year and get you caught up on all the days rumors and how they may relate to the Mavericks.

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