The Mavs' Marion For Evan Turner Trade Rumor

'A Turner-for-Marion swap works and might make sense from a basketball standpoint,' goes the rumor that has the Mavs interested in exploring a trade for the Sixers' emerging young standout. It is viable? Is it sensible? Has it been discussed? Should it be? A Premium examination:

We're less than 10 games into the NBA season, and already the in-season trade ideas have begun. Sam Amico of Fox Sports thinks that the Dallas Mavericks and Sixers could end up doing a swap of small forwards.

Amico writes: "…If the Sixers start to slide, they have the type of younger veteran pieces the Mavericks seemingly covet. The name mentioned most as potential trade bait entering the season: Sixers swingman Evan Turner. He's off to a strong start, averaging 23.4 points and displaying a willingness to drive to the basket more frequently.

"He also has an expiring contract. In today's NBA, that's almost as valuable to general managers as real live talent. This is where the Mavericks may come in.

"Someone like the 25-year old Turner would fit right in, and the Mavs wouldn't have to give up a ton to get him. Starting small forward Shawn Marion and a draft pick would likely be enough.
"The Mavs like Marion, but he's 35 and also approaching free agency. He was at the center of some exploratory talks this past summer and isn't likely to be with the organization next season. His name will certainly hit the rumor mill again prior to the February trade deadline.

"A Turner-for-Marion swap works financially and might make sense from a basketball standpoint. If not now, perhaps eventually. It would give the Sixers an expiring deal (which they have now in Turner), but another asset (a draft pick) that could be used to help rebuild the team. And Turner would, simply put, give the Mavs another good young scorer."

There are journalistic angles to be covered here.

And there are basketball angles to be covered here.

Journalism first.

The story offering insight to goings-on in Dallas and Philly is written by an Ohio-based reporter just in time to enter the traditional Sunday-week-starting rumor mill. None of that necessarily discredits the story; it simply details its origin and partial purpose.

The story also includes a rather amazing amount of cushy qualifiers. Count 'em: 1) "If the 76ers decide. ...'' 2) "They could have a friend in the Mavericks. ...'' 3) "The Mavericks seemingly covet. ...'' 4) "The name mentioned most ...'' 5) This is where the Mavericks may come in. ... 6) "The Mavs wouldn't have to give up a ton to get him. Marion and a draft pick would likely be enough. ...'' 7) "If not now, perhaps eventually. ...''

And ...

8) "So while no such talks are believed to have taken place at the moment, league insiders advised to stay tuned. They may not be far off.''

Add it up: This is a creation of the Amateur-GM author -- and would be acceptable if labeled as such. However, there is no interview, no quote, no sourcing, no attribution, not even the hint that the writer has actually talked to a single person involved in this theoretical transaction that is built upon a record-number of "ifs,'' "seeminglys,'' "maybes,'' "perhapses'' and, in the end, "no such talks have taken place at the moment.''

The story also includes a monstrous error in misunderstanding the Dallas landscape. Amico writes, "To keep Nowitzki, the Mavs feel they have to make a run toward (and possibly in) the playoffs.''

Or else what? Nowitzki bolts?

Also worth noting: Amico writes that Marion "was at the center of some exploratory (trade) talks this past summer.'' The person who started the fact-bending Marion-to-Cleveland story last summer was ... Sam Amico. We explored in great detail at the time the notion of Dallas "dumping'' Marion on the Cavs. There were concepts available but no "dumping'' discussed.

So Marion-for-Turner is the invention of a writer wanting to make up a cool trade he finds sensible? Having combined the above knowledge with some tossing around of the subject today in the AAC basement ... yes. That's exactly what it is.

But as we say, there are basketball angles to be covered here. Hey, what if some of those "What ifs'' come true?

While it's true that Turner (the overall No. 2 pick in 2010) has been way more productive and efficient this season than ever before, we're not sure how this hypothetical trade would make sense to either team.

• Do we think the Sixers' asking price for Turner is as modest as Amico seems to think? Nah. He's a 25-year-old scoring 23.4 points per game. That's value.

• From a standpoint of need and fit, we think it's a bad trade. The current edition of the Mavs has more need for the better defender (Marion) and the better rebounder (Marion), and the Sixers need the better scorer (Turner). While the building Mavs need pieces like that, so do the building Sixers. All of that makes it a lose-lose idea.

• If the Sixers are going to be enticed to trade Turner for an expiring contract and a draft pick (a dubious thought, to be sure), the Mavs don't even have a 2014 first-rounder to trade.

They could end up with one, but it could only be traded after the draft, not before – by which time the contracts of both Turner and Marion will have already expired and neither can be traded. And it will be no better than No. 21. Would the Sixers want to trade Turner now, for Marion and the Mavs' second-rounder? We strongly doubt it.

• The earliest (and only) future No. 1 pick that the Mavs could trade now? A pick in 2020.

• To expand on an above point: For the Sixers, if Turner has truly begun to blossom, wouldn't he be exactly the sort of player they would want to build around? If he's developed into a sure thing, why would they trade him for a pick with which they would hope to get lucky and get a player to keep – the very sort of player they might already have in Turner?

• If the Mavs are trading for a long-term piece to keep, the expiring contract of Turner – with the risk of losing him in free agency if his asking price is too high – is not a plus.
Where a trade of Turner adds up for Philly is if the Sixers think Turner will be too costly to re-sign next summer, when his rookie contract expires, and they want to get something rather than end up with nothing. But unless the Mavs are prepared to budget max cap room for him (and we don't see that as a likelihood), getting him during this season would come with the real risk of another team enticing him away with a higher offer in the summer than will fit into the budget.

Could Amico be correct in guessing that Turner might land in Dallas eventually? Perhaps. We do believe that, either during this season or in the summer, the Mavs will be looking for a couple of long-term pieces, probably a center and a small forward. Altogether they may have as much as $20 million to spend, either by taking long-term contracts in trade or by signings in free agency.

If we get to the summer and the Mavs are still looking for a small forward, maybe getting Turner as a free agent can be one of those pieces.

That leads us back to the only part of the report that really rings true: Amico writes, that the Mavs "are said to be open to further improving the team.''

And yes. That is probably so.

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