Monday Mavs Donuts: All-Stars & Deadlines

Buyer or Seller? ... Dirk in the Bayou ... The first-round demands that club Dallas trade talks ... Trading Wright for Varejao? ... Eyeballing Larry Sanders and Lance Stephenson for someday ... The best fix via 'Trix ... Championship-Or-You-Suck has it all wrong ... Deadline-Week Mavs Donuts!

DONUT 1: Dirk in the Bayou ...

Dallas Mavericks Icon Dirk Nowitzki comes from a mindset where, famousky, "Basketball is Jazz.""

Sunday's NBA All-Star Game, even while it was staged in New Orleans, wasn't jazz. This was, as usual, a freelance cacophony of athleticism and color and flash and individualism ...

Nowitzki's went scoreless and was 0-of-2 from the field while playing eight minutes in the game. ... All of that in the first half.

"I obviously didn't play the whole second half today, so I didn't play that much,'' Nowitzki said after the East defeated his West squad, 163-155, with Cleveland's Kyrie Irving winning the MVP. "But we have practice tomorrow and we have a big game -- we have the Heat coming in Tuesday and they're playing really well. ... Obviously they're the defending champs and we've got our hands full."

Any regrets, Dirk?

"I missed my two shots, so I'd like to blame it on the sleeves (part of the horrific jerseys worn by the teams),'' Nowitzki joked. "I don't really like the look of it, but it's OK."
DONUT 2: Buyer or Seller? ...

First of all, with the Thursday trade deadline looming, let's even more firmly put to rest the idea that the Mavs might be on the "selling" side of things this year, trying to turn a Marion, Carter, Harris, or other expiring contract into a pick for later help.

The Mavs are not stripping down -- and that was determined by the Triangle of Trust even before that impressive outcome in Indy to close the pre-All-Star-Break slate. (More on that signature win below.)

"We're always looking for ways to improve,'' Mavs GM Donnie Nelson tells us. "That being said, all the parts (in the present team) are pretty intricately intertwined. ... Also, to get, you gotta give. Right now we're not looking for reasons to change. If something presents itself, we'll look at it.''

"(But) we put a high emphasis on chemistry and believe it's the reason we've had some success here. At the end of the day, these guys eat, sleep and breathe with each other. It matters how you assemble a team and how the pieces fit.

"It's not like trading bubble-gum cards.''

More on the 105.3 The Fan and "G-Bag Nation'' helping us with Donnie Donuts here.

DONUT 3: The first-round demands ...

I've been told by two sources very specifically that when Dallas calls Philly to kick the tires on ideas (Spencer Hawes more than Evan Turner), Sixers GM Sam Hinkle kicks back with demands for first-round picks.

Indeed, that is the obstacle so far no matter which way Dallas turns.

But is it a far-ranging obstacle?

"We've got Boston's pick, which will be at the very top of second and with the depth of the 2014 Draft, sometimes something like this can be as good as a first-round pick,'' Donnie said. "We've got that one, and our own second, (if we want to trade) to move up (in the draft). If it comes to that, not a bad thing.

"Mark (Cuban) is never opposed to us doing what we need to do to make the team better. So (the possible lack of a first-round pick) is not a situation we can't overcome.''

DONUT 4: Join Boards! ...

Mavs conversation about ... well, everything? The best discussion forum in the NBA, The

DONUT 6: My exclusive with Morey ...

Interested in
Omer Asik? Here on coming up you can read the details of my exclusive visit with Rockets GM Daryl Morey to help you understand what the Mavs are up against in that pursuit.

The short version of the story: If Team X is wanting you to give it a superstar in exchange for its a backup? That's how a Mavs trade doesn't get made at the deadline.

DONUT 6: So, another summer shot ...
Nothing at the deadline? This is where the discussion of a player like Lance Stephenson comes in.

We've had a pair of extensive conversations with someone close to Stephenson and the Pacers' belief is that they can convince him to re-up with Indy this summer ... even though they have just $8.3 million of room for him. ... until they strip down like crazy to try to increase that room.

How much does that punch holes in the Mavs' eventual interest in the gifted young wing? I'm working on that story. ... which may have value this week but certainly has value in July.
Oh, and how do the Mavs regard themselves as a free-agent destination (not specific to Stephenson but in general)?

Donnie: "Dallas is absolutely a free-agent draw. We like how we're positioned for the future there."

DONUT 6: Trading Wright for Varejao ...

We've crafted a "Mavs Amateur GM'' piece that we think we'll interest Mavs fans who want to know more about Asset Management as it relates to getting a center now and leaving room for a star this summer.

What if the Mavs make a deadline trade for Anderson Varejao now by shipping out Brandan Wright ... and in doing so leave themselves $18 million of summer room -- even after signing Dirk! -- to pursue Dirk's heir?

We detail the concept here in "Mavs Amateur GM'' ... a deal done now with long-ranging impact for the summer and beyond.

DONUT 4: The 'Trix fix ...

"The Matrix'' is a Swiss Army knife of fingers ready to plug the leaks born of others' faults to perforate the damn … yes, even that disarmingly crooked left pinky. Yet his advanced-stat stuff isn't jumping off the page. We think we've discovered why - and why Dallas needs to use the All-Star Break to make a Marion-related change.
If you are an advanced-stats guy, you are going to love Michael Dugat's incredibly-detailed look at what makes Dallas' defense tick. ... and how an alteration in Marion's usage can make it tick more productively.

DONUT 8: Hat-tip to Red Rock ...

Thanks to the gang at Red Rock Bar & Grill for having the fellas from 105.3 The Fan hanging out the other night! It's the biggest screen in Texas at 200", it's the live music, and Barry and the gang love their Mavs ... so that's on the big screen every night as well!

DONUT 9: Eyeballing Larry Sanders ...

One name to watch in the summer (who definitely is off the market now) is Larry Sanders, the young and defensively-talented Milwaukee Bucks center. He developed nicely for them in prior years, but he's been a huge disappointment this seasonon the court after signing a massive extension before it began,and he's had off-court issues as well. His shooting has gone down, with the free throw percentage sinking from 62% to the worrisome 47%, along with notable drops in FG%, points, rebounds, blocked shots. And after missing 25 games earlier this season because of an injury sustained in a night club altercation, he's just broken his orbital bone (eye socket) last week week and will miss most of the remainder of the season.

The Mavs are keenly aware here ...

The Bucks have been saved from a rushed deal to get rid of him and his possibly-albatross contract by the fact that he's almost impossible to trade until July and get back commensurate value. (As an extended rookie contract where the extension hasn't begun yet, his contract falls in the "Poison Pill" category, only counting as $3.05M in outgoing salary in a trade but as $9.41M incoming to the other team, creating huge trade-matching obstacles.)
Many expect he will be back in their good graces by the time we get to July, but the big contract and the off-court issues mean the door is ajar.

A trade then would be for a player with four years ahead, at $11 mil per season, and all kinds of huge question marks. High-risk, a boom-or-bust type of deal, but we have it on good authority that the Mavs are not scared of the money he's owed, if he gets shopped.

Worth filing away.

DONUT 9: Join Boards! ...

Mavs conversation about ... well, everything? The best discussion forum in the NBA, The Boards, is in its 14th season and membership is free, fun ... oh, and sometimes frustrating! But mostly free and fun!

DONUT 10: A slow week? ...

Predictions on this being an "active" week or not rarely hold much water. The odds against a trade are always great, so the slick bettor puts hugs money down on predicting inactivity. Just in case, though, our thoughts on what's potentially cooking entering the weekend and week are detailed here.

DONUT 11: Lucky No. 6 ...

Are we so caught up in Championship-Or-You-Suck that we're not appreciating 10 games over .500 at the break? Review that Indy game here and let's recognize that while a year ago Dallas was six games under at this time of the season, in 2014 Dallas' lucky number is again "six'' -- as in, sixth place in the West.

If the NBA Playoffs opened today, it's No. 6 Dallas vs. No. 3 Houston. Me personally? I wouldn't get so blinded by Championship-Or-You-Suck as to not enjoy the matchup or think optimistically about a result.

DONUT 12: The Final Word ....

"I tried to mix in some rest. Now I'm going home and will get focused on the second half of the season and hopefully we can make a playoff push.'' - Dirk Nowitzki.

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