Mavs Scoop: 'Kinks' On O'Neal + Dalembert

When it comes to the center-hungry Mavs' interest in Jermaine O'Neal, there are fantasies, facts and rules. When it comes to rumors about the availability of Sam Dalembert, there fantasies, facts and rules. ... and reasoning that needs to be applied to Dallas' search. We've got the scoop - including a kink in the pipeline that could feed O'Neal to the Mavs.

There are many moving parts to two names in the news and the Dallas Mavericks' interest level in acquiring them ... and ability level to do so, too. We walk you through the scoop on Dallas' center chase:

*The Mavs connection with Jermaine O'Neal is very real. He is THE target. His semi-retirement home in Southlake is a fortuitous thing. He has repeatedly said he's prioritizing family and today is in Germany, reporting that his "three-step process'' regarding "un-retirement'' is ongoing. We know that first step to be the approval of his family. The second step is the medical care he's presently getting overseas. The third step?

Making a choice, we've been led to believe, between the hometown Mavs and another West contender, his former Golden State team. (It might be advisable to put Cleveland in the mix, too.) Connections exist everywhere here; Dallas hopes that his friendship with Rajon Rondo (from Boston) and his kinship with coach Rick Carlisle (from Indy) sway the vote.

*His would be a vet's-minimum deal and would solve the vacancy created by the Rondo trade, which sent away Brandan Wright to Boston. The numbers say that is so: O’Neal put up 7.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game last year while shooting 50.4 percent for the Warriors. Over the course of his 18-year career, he’s averaged 13.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game while shooting 46.7 percent. He is less a rim-protector now than a clogger, but he fits. And the Mavs know it.


But there is a previously unforeseen kink in the pipeline, sources close to the situation tell The Mavs have concerns about O'Neal's physical state and certainly about his conditioning. The notion that he can simply "accept'' Dallas' invitation is premature; he will need to prove his readiness ... and that will need to come well in advance of the Feb. 19 trade deadline, otherwise it would threaten Dallas' chase of other (lesser) options.

*Sam Dalembert exists on a completely different plane here. A Mav a year ago who was then swapped to the Knicks for Tyson Chandler, Sam struggled with focus and devotion to the cause at times. But he is not necessarily "disliked'' here.

On paper -- that is, on-court -- there is some sense to a fully motivated Dalembert as a backup to TY. Most of all, it fits Dallas' long-standing standard for the position: Two traditional rim-protecting, interior-factor centers.

*But, even as New York is dumping him ... acquiring him via waiver is, by rule, not an option.

*Are the Knicks giving him away? Yes. (Boy, has Phil Jackson fixed that organization!) Teams have to waive players by 5:00 PM Eastern Time on January 7th in order to have them off their rosters before January 10 ... and because Sam's deal is partially-guaranteed, they are making the move ... thus saving themselves from having to pick up the second half of Dalembert's $3.8M salary. But now that's he's waived, Dallas cannot get him that way.

*So how about the Mavs having traded for him? As we wrote on Monday afternoon: Can we put together a fantasy scenario in which the Mavs can get him? Sure. To trade match without giving up other important pieces, give them Raymond Felton!

Oh, wait. The Knicks don't want Raymond Felton. In fact, the market is terribly dry there. So Daly to Dallas, Felton to Team X, and Team X sends something to NY? Again, these are complications and fantasies that are required by rule ... and you're left without much fit.

*There is one "letter-of-the-law'' wrinkle worth noting as an aside: The Mavs could possibly get around the rule that essentially requires a team to wait a year before re-acquiring a player (it hasn't been tested, but it's the letter of the law) by signing Daly if he was traded to Team X and then waived. But there's no reason to think a trade to Team X is in the works. ... or that Team X wishes to get him just to dump him.

And now, with Daly heading to the street, that's all moot.


*Ultimately, while Mavs owner Mark Cuban suggests that there are many Plan B's available, chasing other backup centers in trade with the sole qualification (as a Mavs source tells that they be superior to Greg Smith isn't a very solid solution. Emeka Okafor? We've been told repeatedly by NBA people who know him that he's "broken'' physically. Relying heavily on plucking D-League bigs? Not the idea. Nor, we don't think, is the idea of rescuing 7-footer Josh Harrellson from China the answer.

The answer is in Southlake. Well, in Germany. But the Mavs' answer comes only after Jermaine O'Neal can answer one final question for them about his readiness.

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