The Mavs' Odom Odor & Moving That No. 1 Pick
Before the start of the 2011-12 season, the Dallas Mavericks gave up a first-round pick to the Lakers for Lamar Odom.
It seemed a viable idea at the time; Odom was a perennial Sixth Man of the Year guy and it actually represented the franchise's devotion to trying to win because he didn't come cheap.
Odom was, of course, a disaster of historic proportions. ... and continues to be so, even two years after his departure. The reason that Odom is the "gift that keeps on giving" in a bad sense has to do with the future No. 1 pick the Mavs gave to the Lakers to get him. It was "top-20 protected" meaning, basically, if the Mavs were bad enough to have a top-20 pick in the draft, the Mavs would keep the pick, and replace it with the next year's pick (again top-20 protected), a process to continue until 2018 if necessary.
But if Dallas is good enough to be a top-10 team? Then the pick gets sent and the obligation is over.
While this "protection" has the plus of allowing Dallas to delay sending it until the team has a really good year with a less-valuable draft pick, also allowing them to keep their picks while they improve, there's been a hidden downside - Odom's "gift that keeps on giving." As long as that pick is still "owed," the arrangement handicaps the Mavs front office in hindering their ability to include a future No. 1 pick in a trade.
And teams offering desirable talent - the kind of trade the Mavs would want to do - covet picks.
In fact, the Mavs' ability to trade a future No. 1 pick has been not just handicapped, but made virtually impossible, due to the NBA's Stepien Rule as applied to the pick still owed from the Odom trade.The rule is that a team can't be without a No. 1 pick (theirs, or another team's) for two consecutive future drafts. And because they don't have any future No. 1 picks owed them from other teams, this effectively requires the Mavs to hold onto their No. 1 picks for the years before and after the pick is going to OKC (which has acquired that future Dallas pick from Houston, who got it from LA).
While that sounds like it's only a minor obstacle, the fact that the pick-to-OKC is now a 2014 pick which MIGHT later get moved to a 2015 pick, which then MIGHT get later moved to a 2016 pick, and so on (through 2018), means that until OKC actually gets that pick, the Mavs cannot do a trade leaving them without a No. 1 pick in each of the draft years before and after ALL of those possibilities.
In other words, the Mavs will remain in that sort of limbo until a season in which they are good enough to be a top-10 team or 2020. Whichever comes first.
Meaning ... the Mavs arranged to be hamstrung like this quite possibly all the way until 2020.
The Mavs want to unload themselves of this burden immediately. So while the Wednesday game might not matter in terms of finishing sixth, seventh or eighth (and of course, Dallas is in the playoffs in some form) it does matter in terms of this conveyed pick.
If Mavs win their last game, the pick will go to OKC, no matter what else happens, because that will make Dallas a 50-win team, and three of the clubs that have been complicating the top-10 look - the Grizzlies, Raptors and Bulls, in particular -- can at best win 49 each.
We're betting Dirk wants to play on Wednesday no matter what. (And in fact he practiced Monday with no carryover from the ankle he tweaked on Saturday. ... and then was a centerpiece of the team photo, as shown above by Stevallica.) We're betting Monta wants to play so he can register a full 82-game participation. (And this afternoon he's been named Western Conference Player of the Week.) We're betting Carlisle wants to win on Wednesday ... within certain boundaries.
We're allowed some room for sarcasm here, given the way Dallas has failed with No. 1 picks, so here goes: be careful what you wish for because ... well, the last time the Mavs made a "major" trade with a first-rounder, look what the heck they did with it!
But Wednesday night can be a positive night in many ways. For Dirk and Monta, for Carlisle and the on-court fellas ... And most of all, for a Mavs front office that needs the win.
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