My initial reactions to the Dallas Mavericks' draft-night trade for shooting guard Rudy Fernandez were, A) DeShawn Stevenson would be signing elsewhere and B) Fernandez would slide in as the starting two-guard.
I figured Fernandez would allow Rodrigue Beaubois, coming off a second foot surgery, a pressure-free season to jumpstart his stalled development. Then, if Fernandez proved worthy, the Mavs could make a run at re-signing him as a restricted free agent while deciding whether to bring back sixth man Jason Terry (who turns 34 next month and is entering the final year of his contract) to presumably close out his career as a Maverick.
Now, news breaks out of Spain that Fernandez has agreed to a four-year deal with Real Madrid, putting his days with the Mavs and in the NBA beyond this season in serious doubt. That's fine because I want to focus solely on the 2011-12 season, assuming there will be one, delayed or not. After all, it's really the only season that counts for the rickety roster (hey, these guys aren't getting any younger) of the defending champion Mavs.
The 6-foot-5 Fernandez, with his ability to drive and hit the 3-pointer, seemed, as I've mentioned, a no-brainer to start at two-guard. Then, I read espn.com's 5-on-5 Mavs roundtable, of which I was one of five "experts" to participate. Only one question drew widespread differences of opinion: Who should start at two-guard next season?
The five "experts" came up with five answers.
I was the only one to tap Fernandez. Ian Levy of the Two-Man Game didn't actually pick anyone, instead suggesting a rotation would fill the spot. Rob Mahoney of the Two-Man Game said Caron Butler -- should he re-sign -- is the man, returning to the position he filled upon first joining the Mavs in February 2010. Beckley Mason of HoopSpeak also went rotation, but named names with J.J. Barea and Stevenson splitting time (of course, the Mavs must also re-sign both free agents). And finally, the indomitable Marc Stein of espn.com put his money on the lanky, 6-foot-9 Corey Brewer.
It is a wee bit interesting, but hardly surprising, that no one went with Beaubois, whose 2010-11 campaign was so disappointing that he's fallen completely off the radar as an immediate impact player. Terry also was not a consideration, mostly because he's entrenched as the sixth man. It took about five games into last season for coach Rick Carlisle to remove Terry from the starting lineup and return him to the bench (Stevenson took over as the starter).
Dominique Jones, a non-factor as a rookie, seems to have a ways to go before starting in this league.
So, whenever the season starts, it is clear the Mavs will again face uncertainty at two-guard, yet depending on who re-signs, will potentially have more options than ever.
So, who should start at two-guard?