DALLAS – The Mavericks did not believe there was a player available with the Nos. 26 or 57 overall picks who could contribute next season. So they didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on a trade who get a guy who probably can contribute to a contender.
Rudy Fernandez, who landed in Dallas along with the rights to Finnish point guard Petteri Koponen in a three-team deal with Portland and Denver, certainly isn’t a superstar. But he might be the Mavs’ 20-minute-per-night starting shooting guard. He’s at least proven to be a rotation player for a playoff team.
And Fernandez, a three-year veteran who has a career average of 9.1 points per game, comes with precious little risk. He’s on the books for $2.1 million next season, but that’s the last year of his rookie contract.
The one legitimate reason to dislike this deal is because it likely means DeShawn Stevenson will be elsewhere next season. Stevenson played a key role in the Mavs’ championship season as an on-again, off-again starter at shooting guard, providing rugged defense and inconsistent perimeter shooting.
Fernandez (.364 from 3-point range in his career) can replace the perimeter shooting. He’s also a more versatile, athletic offensive player with the ability to create off the dribble.
What about the defense? Remember that Corey Brewer couldn’t crack the postseason rotation. It’s possible that he’s the one who takes over Stevenson’s old role.
That likely wouldn’t sit well with Fernandez, who frequently voiced his displeasure with his role in Portland, creating commotion that he could opt to return to his native Spain. Oh well. If Fernandez doesn’t buy in to whatever role he has with the defending world champions, he won’t be in Dallas for long.
It’s worth noting that the 6-foot-6, 185-pound Fernandez had a giddy tweet about coming to Dallas. Maybe the Mavs and coach Rick Carlisle can tap Fernandez’s potential that Portland couldn’t.
And don’t just dismiss Koponen as a no-name throw-in. He was the final pick of the first round in the 2007 draft and might have been selected by the Mavs if he was available four picks later. He’s played well for an Italian powerhouse the last three seasons.
Koponen joins 2009 second-rounder Nick Calathes as tall Euro stash combo guards who could potentially, eventually contribute to the Mavs.
So, once all the wheeling and dealing was done, the Mavs turned two picks they didn’t really want into one probable rotation player for next season, one prospect and no risk.