The Dallas Mavericks are 22-34 and as we enter the eve of the Feb. 23 trade deadline are in the No. 12 spot in the NBA’s Western Conference.
It is from that spot from which their decide how to negotiate. ... and then from where they're negotiate.
"Negotiation’’ is what this weekend is all about, with NBA bosses like Mavs owner Mark Cuban and GM Donnie Nelson all collected in New Orleans, given them face-to-face opportunities to talk deals with other teams.
And that’s when the rumor mill truly gets cranking.
Yet already, the Mavs are at the center of a hot "rumor'' that has them having “serious conversations’’ with the New York Knicks, and the level of names being thrown around is headline-grabbing.
“That’s not happening,’’ a Mavs source tells me.
Part of the reasoning?
“We’d be giving away the best player in the deal,’’ the source said, citing Barnes.
That doesn’t mean Dallas, Cleveland and the Knicks haven’t talked; “We have daily conversations with every team,’’ Nelson tells me. But I’m also told there have not been discussions specifically about that rumor — which, as written, would also force the Mavs to give up Seth Curry and the 2017 No. 1 pick.
We almost don’t need sourcing to shoot that down. Cuban is already on-record with DallasBasketball.com as valuing Curry (a relatively young rotation player on a cheap deal). And the Mavs are adamant about hanging onto their No. 1 pick, a pleasant change of direction from previous years. (UPDATE: This is newly noteworthy with the Jahlil Okafor rumor flying; we take you inside those trade talks, such as they are/were, here.)
Dallas, right now, would be picking in the No. 7 spot in the NBA lottery. Combine that with the new realities of the CBA and you know why Cuban is saying this won’t be a “big-fish’’ summer. (That’s not to say the Mavs can’t bid on “young-max’’ guys like Nerlens Noel, True Holiday or, most appealing to us, Otto Porter Jr. (See our detailed breakdown of how that rebuilding action for the Mavs can happen here.)
Cuban tells DB.com he wants to be “opportunistic” … which means that the Mavs are only looking for deals so advantageous that they simply can’t say no. Some of the proposals in the coming days can make Dallas be a “buyer’’ (moves that would belie the realities of being 22-34). Others will allow Dallas to be a “seller’’ — which is where another faulty rumor pops up.
Actually, this isn’t a “rumor’’ as much as it is Bill Simmons’ attempt at high comedy. Simmons, who has long proclaimed himself to be basketball-savvy enough to serve as a GM (and in this piece proclaims himself to be "The Picasso of The Trade Machine''), is proposing the Mavs trade Andrew Bogut and Deron Williams to the Knicks in exchange for Derrick Rose.
It was meant as a joke, maybe. (That would be more easily discerned if it was, you know, “funny.’’) But we dutifully asked about it, anyway, and we’re told by Mavs officials that Nelson’s league-wide conversation with teams absolutely do not include the pursuit of Rose.
Additionally, it’s obvious that the Mavs would be peddling two assets there (two expiring contracts) for one asset (the expiring contract of Rose, who by the way is on the record of wanting to pursue a max deal this summer). There is simply nothing advantageous to the Mavs in adding Rose.
“No chance,’’ a Mavs source reiterates.
What the Mavs need to do here is simple: Find a “buyer’’ — actually, multiple “buyers’’ — and use their assets to bring back two usable future pieces (maybe a cheap talented player, but even more appealing, draft picks).
Bogut and Williams have expiring deals. Devin Harris has another year left but can be bought out of the final year for only $1.34 million. Dallas needs to be looking at flipping all three of them, probing Boston, Toronto, Indiana and Portland regarding their willingness to sacrifice a future draft pick to improve their present. Cleveland (where Devin is a trade fit) and Sacramento and everyone else should be examined, too, though the Cavs and Kings don’t have the wealth of picks that Boston and Portland do.
There is a fun way to use cap math to engineer a Kevin Love-to-Dallas trade, and it involves Carmelo Anthony. But it a) does not include giving away Barnes and b) is, unlike the gossip and speculation and silliness of Simmons’ idea and others like it, is accurately framed as our “fun way to use cap math,’’ and nothing more.
Read David Lord’s brilliant breakdown of real Mavs trade-deadline deal possibilities here … and we’ll keep you posted on when Donnie’s “daily conversations’’ actually merit legitimate coverage.