Thursday Donuts: Mavs Talking Bucks/Kings

It's not too late for a trade to happen, Mark Cuban says, until the deadline is the deadline. 'You never know. Anything is possible.' That goes for swaps. It also goes for the Mavs' climb into the playoff race. And it involves cooperation from everyone from the Magic to the Lakers. Thursday Mavs Donuts:

DONUT 1: Cuban speaks ...

Last night, less than 24 hours before the NBA's trade deadline, the atmosphere in Dallas Mavericks locker room was just like that of any other day. Even with many outsiders eager to link the Mavs to trade rumors, no move seemed imminent before Wednesday night's game against the Magic.

Mark Cuban answered questions while doing his usual StairMaster workout. Cuban confirmed that everything was quiet along the trade front.
"You go through everything in your mind, every possible alternative,'' he said. "If you get to the point where you say ‘that's not a winning team' then you don't do it just to do it ... We have lots of good pieces, but not that anyone is going to give us anything better for us. No one is going to do a stupid trade with us."

DONUT 2: A bunch of hype? ...

Our annual feature "Trade Rumor Traffic'' tracks down all the scoop on all the important moves -- especially from a Mavs-centric perspective. Jennings? Cousins? Deals not made? We'll do all that all day right here ...

Worth noting here and expanding on at throughout the day: Fish says the Mavs and Kings are talking this morning about "little pieces'' and he ponders whether the discussions can grow into bigger pieces.

If you read religiously (as you should) you know what those bigger pieces might be: The Dirk throne handed to Cousins. An affordable experiment with Tyreke. We've written extensively about Sacto's reasons for being reluctant to make the moves. But we now know the Mavs are calling ... about "pieces.''

One more quick note regarding a "small'' trade: The Bucks' Beno Udrih makes $7.4 million (expiring). Our Michael Dugat says that puts the Mavs outgoing salaries in the area of $5 million to make it all work. So, MDug writes, "something like Roddy B and Dahntay would work for Udrih.''

Anyway ... Come trade deadline every season the Mavs are always thrown into the discussion of any player rumored to be traded. One might think it would become quite the distraction.

Rick Carlisle couldn't agree less.

The Mavericks' head coach shared just how little time he spent thinking about the trade deadline.

"I could care less about it, " Carlisle said. "We've made one big deal in five years. "You guys show up every year and ask a lot of questions. Everybody is tweeting everything. It's a lot of nothing most of the time."

Reason enough for us to spend as much time on the game coverage as we do the rumor coverage ...

DONUT 3: Mavs 111, Magic 96 ...

How'd it go down? Our stats-and-analysis-heavy game coverage of last night's game is here. This is the good stuff -- analysis and insights you get nowhere else. Dig in!

DONUT 4: A good start to the second season ...

The post-All Star break is often considered the second season of the NBA and with 30 games left the Mavs will likely have to win nearly 20 of them to qualify for the playoffs.

Dallas had a good start to their second season with a 111-96 victory. Five players in double figures, nearly 48 [ercent shooting as a team and single digit turnovers is a good sign for a team that needs to find a groove going forward.

Another huge problem recently - slow starts to games -- was not an issue as the Mavs had their best first quarter of the season scoring 42 points.

Again, c'mon inside the AAC for our game report.

DONUT 5: Has the JET been replaced? ...

Dallas' fans will not soon forget the energy, charisma and leadership that Jason Terry provided in his time with the Mavericks, but according to Rick Carlisle someone else has filled his role of veteran scorer off that bench. That someone is Vince Carter.

Carlisle explains.

"We're not starting our best players," Carlisle said. "We're bringing Vince off the bench. He's Jason Terry now.''

Carter contributed 14 points and eight assists and three rebounds in the Mavs' victory over the Magic. ... and did so in an explosive manner, as you can see here in the NBA highlight reel:

DONUT 6: Cuban on the dunk contest ...

It was nice to see Terrence Ross sporting the old-school Vince Carter jersey in his victory in the Slam Dunk contest. And Ross threw down some pretty impressive dunks. But the fact that Ross was wearing Carter's jersey in the first place is homage to a time when the Dunk Contest was Must-See/Water-Cooler television.

Many people have ideas on how to fix the Dunk Contest (including our very own Fish). On Wednesday night Cuban provided a few suggestions of his own.

"I think you add some technology to it," Cuban said. "You add a height meter, a distance meter some different things to measure it in real time and then you include that in the score. So if four guys are going to try to jump from the free throw line then that will add to the excitement, who jumped the highest? Who jumped the furthest? And it will all be there in real time."

DONUT 7: Is Sunday's game against the Lakers the biggest of the season? ...

No matter how you look at it, the Mavericks have a lot of work to do if they are going to climb their way back into the playoff picture. (We chose to look at it as though Dallas needed to win 21 of the final 30. Not pretty.) The same goes for the Lakers.

But I personally believe that either the Lakers or Mavericks will climb into this thing. You might be able to dispute me with reasoning or logic, but I have a hard time believing that Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki will both miss the playoffs (not to mention that I think that Utah and Houston all have visible flaws and lack veteran leadership. In other words the door will open up).

So yes I think the Lakers or Mavs will make the playoffs. But both? Pretty unlikely. That makes their matchup on Sunday a pretty important game. It might seem like some just another game between two struggling teams, but it could prove to be very important down the road.

DONUT 8: Want more Mavs? ...

We've got the best and deepest coverage of the Mavs available anywhere ... take our free seven-day trial and then get your Mavs gold for pennies! ... Go Mavs and Go Premium!

By the way, we take that same focus that we provide on the Mavs here on and apply it to the Mavs and the Cowboys on 105.3 The Fan. Listen live here for some Fish on Football and for breaking Mavs stuff, too ... throughout today and every day ... and we'll take you inside the teams in every possible way!

DONUT 9: The Mavs Podcast ...

Broadcast professionals Mike "The Machine'' Marshall, Kevin Brolan, Roy Williams and Fish bringing you this week's Mavs Podcast complete with analysis, Dirk Nowitzki love, funny music and inappropriate name-calling.

DONUT 10: Thanks to our sponsors! ...

A tip of the cap of appreciation to Frisco Party Station and Red Rock Bar & Grill! They help make what it is ... thanks, guys!

DONUT 11: Wildly speculating ...

Speaking of the Lakers, is it more realistic that the Mavs (or any other team) acquire Kobe than it is that they acquitre Dwight Howard?

The thought of the Lakers parting with perhaps the best player in their storied history seems extremely unlikely, not to mention the fact that Bryant's hefty contract would be very difficult to move. But there is the possibility that the Lakers choose to move Bryant's contract in order to free up space to build around Howard.

Mavs fans can hardly go two days without bringing up the possibility of acquiring Dwight Howard. We're guilty of it ourselves here at (Well, "guilty'' might be the wrong word. We prefer "focused.'')

But is it possible that it's more likely to see Kobe in a Mavs' jersey than Dwight?

It sounds crazy, but despite all the drama that seems to follow DH12, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak is now stating Howard is the future of the Lakers.

In fact, Chad Ford reported that if an ultimatum of Bryant or Howard were presented that the Lakers would certainly consider choosing Howard.
So ... nah. Kobe might go somewhere. But Kobe as a Mav seems far-fetched (in part because it doesn't fit the plan of hiring a Dirk heir). The real news out of this is LA's desire to retain its own "big fish'' -- making Dallas' fishing expeditions that much more difficult.

DONUT 12: The Final Word ...

While Carlisle voiced his disinterest in the trade deadline and Cuban admitted that things seemed to be quiet around the league, in typical Cuban fashion, the owner didn't rule out the possibility of things heating up before all is said and done.

"(It's not too late for a trade to happen) until 2 o'clock (this) afternoon," Cuban said. "You never know. Anything is possible."

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