Anatomy Of A Day In The Mavs' Trade-Deadline Life

Trade Talk. Cap Gymnastics. A Surprise Phone Call. A Short-Handed Scrimmage. It's All Part Of 'The Anatomy Of A Day In The Mavs' Trade-Deadline Life.'

The first soon-to-be-public domino topples innocuously enough, with Dallas Mavericks rookie center AJ Hammons showing up for work in Frisco, expecting to be a starter for Wednesday night’s D-League game between the Mavs’ affiliate the Texas Legends vs. the LA D-Fenders.

At 3:36, I receive a text.

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“Hammons is being recalled by the Mavs today.’’

And right about at this time, Legends coach Bob MacKinnon contacts Hammons.

“You’re going downtown,’’ MacKinnon tells the kid.

I ask a Mavs staffer if Hammons’ hurry-up drive south down the Tollway (a move made official at 3:49) had anything to do with the possibility of a trade-deadline-centered Dallas roster shuffle.

“You could surmise that, yes,’’ he tells me.

And then comes a Mavs practice. (It is suggested to me that the workout is largely a scrimmage, and that coach Rick Carlisle will supervise another scrimmage on Thursday as the team comes back from its All-Star Break and preps for a Friday game at Minnesota and a Saturday AAC meeting with Boogie Cousins’ Pelicans). And it is a Mavs practice that does not feature Andrew Bogut or Deron Williams.

“We were just told a trade might happen,’’ J.J. Barea reveals to the media collected downtown. “So they’re not here.’’

Both sit out, protectively bubble-wrapped in order to be safely delivered to their new teams by the 2 p.m. Thursday deadline — if the Mavs can procure from suitors just the right future-value bounty.

Says Carlisle: “If it turns out they're not here, they're not here and this is what we got. And if there are trades, there's a chance there's going to be some players coming back that could help us. But we'll see. We'll know by 2 o'clock tomorrow, and we'll go from there.’’

That “players coming back’’ part is a significant revelation to those of you who’ve been following how a D-Will-to-Cleveland trade might have to work. More on that below …

Assorted other vignettes, takes and dominos as part of  “The Anatomy Of A Day In The Mavs’ Trade-Deadline Life”:

*Just 24 hours earlier, Dallas discusses with Utah the idea of trading Williams to the Jazz. It’s not an unappealing idea to D-Will (who once played in Utah and owns a home there and would seemingly waive his trade-veto rights to return). I’m told Utah is “not enthralled’’ with the idea of sacrificing whatever first-rounder (the Jazz have a cache of them) Dallas is asking for. But at least the conversations are on … and inside the Mavs headquarters on Wednesday morning, the idea remains a topic of discussion.

*The same is true of the concept of a Bogut trade to Boston (details here), though a source continues to tell me that a “bigger shoe’’ needs to drop first for the Celtics before they turn to the idea of giving up a 2018-or-later pick for the center.

*Mavs GM Donnie Nelson is the point man on many of the conversations, including the in-house ones in which the staff discusses ideas to pursue the likes of Utah’s Derrick Favors and Detroit’s Andre Drummond. Assistant Michael Finley is a key voice in the room.

*At some point after 10:37 a.m., the D-Will-to-Utah talks are supplemented by D-Will-to-Cleveland talks. This is happy news inside Dallas HQ; the Mavs believe this is the Cavs’ long-sought-after target. Maybe they’re right … but in the early afternoon I’m told Cleveland is also willing to ask Mario Chalmers to “come off the couch’’ to serve as the off-the-bench playmaker LeBron James desires.

*The ideal Deron trade brings back nothing but picks; there’s no desire to let a Channing Frye or a Man Shumpert clog the Mavs’ summer salary cap. So there are complicated ways to pull that off. A three-way involving another team, and letting the Cavs’ player go somewhere other than Dallas. A complicated swap with the Cavs that involves not only Deron but Bogut, too. All these are considered by Mark Cuban and staff … keeping in mind that because of Utah’s cap situation (as compared to Cleveland’s) a D-Will trade to the Jazz requires no filler, no matching, no cap gymnastics. (See David Lord's incomparable insight into these "deeply involved'' trade talks here.)

*Take this as either a) a sign that Deron and/or Bogut deal(s) are going down or b) that the Mavs are really, really doing their just-in-case preparatory homework. But consider the Mavs’ roster post-trade. If Carlisle’s forecast is right and Dallas gets “some players coming back,’’ this isn’t an issue. 

Or …

Two players go out and fewer than two players come back. It’s so feasible that the Mavs staff decides it had better assemble a list of D-League prospects, a list of “guys on the couch,’’ a list of prospects playing in China who will soon be eligible to sign NBA deals. 

How real am I being about this concept? I’m giving you names. If the Mavs have roster vacancies, they will consider quickly sending out weekend feelers to D-Leaguer Jalen Jones (of Maine and formerly of Texas A&M), to Manny Harris and Pierre Jackson (of the Legends), to Ray McCallum (now on his second 10-day with the Hornets), to Briante Weber (the D-League star now on a 10-day with Golden State), maybe to the aforementioned Chalmers, and eventually, when his China service is done, to J.J. Hickson, the former Wizards big man.

*The organization is still struggling to wrap its collective head around the ideas of being “non-competitive,’’ of “tanking,’’ of “organic tanking.’’ Somebody on the staff mentions out-loud how “Boogie and The Brow’’ are almost certain to lead New Orleans to a charge for the No. 8 spot in the West playoffs, leaving Dallas in the lottery dust.

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I don’t know what Carlisle’s private reply to that is. I know his public answer.

“We’re in a dynamic business,’’ he says to the Wednesday afternoon media. “There’s plenty going on.’’

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