The Dallas Mavericks can debate about whether they are "tanking,'' or "Organically Tanking,'' or "Trying to Win Every Game -- Always!'' or whatever ... But realities are setting in. Maybe owner Mark Cuban will wait until reality -- an NBA-worst 2-12 record entering tonight's visit to Cleveland -- is more than "setting in.'' Maybe it's got to slap him in the face. Maybe it's got to wait until we get closer to the mid-February trade deadline.
But it's coming ...
And so are trade opportunities.
We've speculated here before that center Andrew Bogut is a viable guy to move before the deadline. He turns 33 this season and he battles injury issues and, well, the former Warriors big man is not playing well here so far. But he's a proven difference-maker, rim-protector and quality teammate, and in this one-year deal he's making just $11 million.
There will be logic in Dallas getting something for him before he leaves via free agency for his final bite of the financial apple, and there will be logic in contending teams seeing him as a final piece of a title puzzle.
This is where Bill Simmons comes in.
Simmons and I have jousted before, and in the end, he wins, because he makes a billion dollars while I am very, very happy living off your dime a day. Simmons certainly wins when he talks of what the Boston Celtics want and need. He's a devoted Celtics fan, so he knows their roster inside and out (I do not), and I trust he's also got whispery access to the Boston front office.
So it's quite intriguing when Bill tweets:
Good gosh, I'm in! Without hesitation!
And here's why I'm in (and why I'm being a bit sarcastic):
What the Mavs will be seeking, obviously, is a first-round pick. (Oh, maybe young talent off the Celtics roster, but if we get to February and that roster is "one piece away from a championship'' why would Boston trade talent?)
What pick does Boston have? Well, the Celtics are presently a playoff team, so it would be a non-Lotto pick. Would Dallas take that? I suppose.
But what pick can Boston have?
Boston, by virtue of an earlier trade, has the right to swap its 2017 first-round pick for Brooklyn's 2017 first-round pick. So if the Nets -- presently a four-win team, therefore holding the second-worst record in the league (tied with others but with Dallas the only club with a poorer mark) -- win the ping-pong balls, it's actually Boston that wins the ping-pong balls.
And then Boston gets the No. 1 overall pick and selects, say, Markelle Fultz of Washington.
And the Celtics are going to trade that opportunity to Dallas so it can borrow half a season of Andrew Bogut?
Simmons is almost certainly wrong here. But I'm not above dreaming, if only for a second. It's February. Dallas is clearly going nowhere. Dirk is still limping and needing rest. The playing time is being eaten up by all of the Mavs' Finney-Smiths. And Bill ... er, I mean, Danny Ainge calls old pal Donnie Nelson and offers a high Lotto ticket for Bogut? And then the Nets finish with 20 wins and the Mavs finish with 21 and the ping-pong balls bounce right and Dallas drafts the 6-5 scoring point guard Fultz with the No. 1 pick and the 6-8 Kansas forward Josh Jackson with the No. 2 pick?
OK. Done. With only one problem: I don't want the Celtics and the Mavs to pull off this dreamy Bill Simmons idea in February. I want it NOW -- before anybody in Boston comes to their senses.