It's a subtle and under-the-radar thing that, at its core, speaks quietly to how the Dallas Mavericks' cupboard, not as bare as it once was, still isn't fully stocked with dishware.
The Detroit Pistons are listening to trade offers for standout center Andre Drummond, and Mavs sources tell me that on Tuesday they kicked the tires on the idea of trading for the freakishly powerful center. "Kicked the tires'' in-house, as I understand it.
From Pistons boss Stan Van Gundy on Tuesday: "There hasn’t been a serious discussion about Andre, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been discussions about Andre."
So, how about we take these in-house concepts into discussions with Detroit?
Problem: the Mavs, in all their tire-kicking, came to the realization that they don't have the pieces to make such a swap fit.
That doesn't mean they shouldn't try, and maybe they will. But just as whatever offer they might have come up with for DeMarcus Cousins (had the Kings bothered to listen), Dallas isn't exactly rolling in assets.
One of the reasons New Orleans was able to acquire Cousins is because the Pels could offer up Buddy Hield. Whatever you think of him, he is a rookie on his first contract, his employer has complete financial control of him, and he's a top-10 pick with upside.
The Mavs don't have that particular short of asset to dangle in a big "buyer'' trade. (They are limited to "little'' deals, I think, hoping for stuff like an Andrew Bogut trade to Boston for a future first-rounder.)
Detroit's reasoning for being open to trading Drummond are its own; meanwhile, there are voices inside the Mavs organization certainly have a high opinion of the center, who is just 23 and averaging 14.6 points and 13.8 rebounds per game.
But Dallas - which, by the way, still hopes to have the Thursday trade deadline come and go while improving itself without forfeiting its upcoming first-round pick (for Jahlil Okafor or any other middling player) - is being frank with me about its self-evaluation, and this definitely applies to Drummond. It probably applied to Cousins. And I might add in advance, likely will apply if Utah wants to trade Derrick Favors. Now, if Utah is interested in taking on Deron Williams, hey, that's a conversation-starter. ... but I'm told that the Mavs "doubt'' they can create a Favors-worthy package, too.
In general ... The Mavericks' cupboard is still too bare. That's a subtle fact -- and a stark one.