Dallas Mavericks: Andre Iguodala
(UPDATE: Howard has eliminated the Mavs from consideration)
What do the Mavericks do in the likely event that Dwight Howard doesn’t pick Dallas?
They’ll turn over every rock in the trade market trying to find a way to land a franchise-caliber player, but that’s pretty tough to do without attractive assets. That was the indirect message from Boston GM Danny Ainge when the Mavs called to send out a feeler on Rajon Rondo.
|Buy, sell or hold? If Dwight Howard goes to another team, what are the Mavs' options? The guys take a look at a list of potential fallback options.
To the contrary, maybe the Mavs can benefit from talking to tanking teams in the trade market. They might be able to pick up a quality piece or two from a team interested in cutting costs.
They’ll try to piece together a roster good enough to get back into the playoffs. Is that possible? Well, they were in the hunt until the final week of last season despite digging a 10-games-under-.500 hole with Dirk Nowitzki recovering from a knee scope.
The Mavs have glaring holes at center, point guard and center. They’d create a hole at small forward if they deal Shawn Marion to create more space under the salary cap.
As far as free agency goes, their priorities would still be signing a center and point guard.
There are two high-quality starting centers other than Howard who are still on the market: Andrew Bynum and Nikola Pekovic. There are major problems with the pursuit of both of them.
Pekovic is a restricted free agent, and all indications are that the Timberwolves intend to keep him. How much would the Mavs have to offer for Minnesota to decline to match? If the Mavs guess wrong and the Timberwolves match after the three-day waiting period, Dallas is pretty much guaranteed to strike out on free-agent centers.
Bynum is the biggest injury risk on the market, missing all of last season with bad knees and big chunks of five of the previous six years. Bynum, a 19-12-2 guy in 2011-12, still won’t come cheap.
It comes down to managing the risk with the language of the contract. If the Mavs have a team out (perhaps based on games played) after the first year, offering Bynum good money makes a lot of sense.
If the Mavs miss out on Howard, how attractive would they be to Jose Calderon? He just turned down an offer from the Sacramento Kings because he didn’t want to rebuild. Then again, Dirk doesn’t play in Sacramento.
The other point guard candidates – Mo Williams, Jarrett Jack, Monta Ellis – would all be in play.
Another possibility: Making a strong push for small forward Andre Iguodala, who could be considered the best non-superstar available in free agency.
There is a lot of competition for Iguodala, including the possibility of him returning to Denver. How much should the Mavs be willing to pay for an excellent defender, passer and open-court player who isn’t much of a threat to score out of halfcourt sets? Sounds like it’ll take at least $48 million over four years. (UPDATE: Iguodala is off the board. Yahoo! Sports reports that he committed to the Warriors for a four-year, $48 million deal.)
There is no perfect Plan B for the Mavs.
There are dozens of different potential scenarios. None of them would wash away the bitter taste of whiffing on a big fish again.
As Dwight Howard clears his mind in the mountain air, all the Mavericks can do is wait and hope.
They have to hope that Mark Cuban and crew’s three-hour pitch was strong enough to sell Howard on a two-year plan to rebuild a contender in Dallas. If not, they at least have to hope that the Dwight drama isn’t dragged out for more than a few days.
|ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard.
The Mavs have done a ton of due diligence on contingency plans and will continue to do so, but they can’t keep the market from moving until the Dwight decision comes down. The longer Howard takes, the more likely it is that the Mavs will have to pick through leftovers.
Then again, maybe the Mavs need not worry.
“I think the whole league is waiting on the Dwight domino to fall,” one free agent whom the Mavs have interest in said via text message.
Well, maybe not the whole league. There was a flurry of free-agent activity Tuesday. J.J. Redick and Kevin Martin, a couple of 3-point-popping shooting guards who could have been fits for the Mavs, committed to other West teams. The Spurs locked up restricted free agent center Tiago Splitter, another player who intrigued the Mavs.
It appeared that Andre Iguodala, considered by some the best non-superstar available this summer, was close to committing to the Sacramento Kings … until his four-year, $52 million offer was pulled off the table. Nevertheless, Iguodala has enough strong suitors that he isn’t likely to wait for the Dwight drama to make his decision.
Cuban, if he were talking to the media at the moment beyond his “It was fun” post-meeting comment to the ESPN camera crew, might make the case that all of the contracts committed to thus far would have been beyond what the Mavs were willing to pay for those players.
None of the Mavs’ point guard targets are off the board yet, unless you count Eric Bledsoe, whom they discussed acquiring in what would have been a complicated O.J. Mayo sign-and-trade with the Clippers. We’ll see if Jose Calderon, Mo Williams, Jarrett Jack, Monta Ellis, etc. are still undecided when Howards emerges from the mountains.
Centers, such as Andrew Bynum and Al Jefferson, might be wise to wait for the Dwight domino to fall. It can’t hurt to have the Mavs and Hawks involved in the bidding process.
Whether or not Howard comes to Dallas, the Mavs must put together a team capable of getting back into the playoffs to be able to claim any progress in Cuban’s new two-year plan. And they have to hope that doesn’t become harder to do if the most indecisive star in sports drags this out.
|Dirk Nowitzki and ESPN's Chris Broussard join Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the possibility of Dwight Howard joining the Mavericks and how Dallas should approach the situation.
“Getting ready to make some phone calls ! Lets go Mavs ! #MFFL !” Cuban tweeted 10 minutes before the madness officially began.
Cuban’s bank account is basically frozen until the Dwight Decision comes down, but the Mavs’ front office spent the late-night and early-morning hours putting out feelers and attempting to get a feel for what the market might bear.
Howard is Priority A, but B is addressing the point guard position, a problem all of last season. Anyone who considered the Mavs declining to make a qualifying offer to would-be restricted free agent Darren Collison to be newsworthy apparently missed him losing his starting job to a 37-year-old who was unemployed for the first half of the season.
|Tim MacMahon joins Galloway and Company to discuss the NBA draft and where the Mavericks stand on getting Dwight Howard.
The Mavs were also reportedly among several teams to reach out to small forwards Andre Iguodala and Chase Budinger and shooting guard Kevin Martin. One team source considers Iguodala to be the third-best player in this free-agency crop, behind only Howard and Chris Paul, who has already committed to re-sign with the Clippers.
The Mavs have interest in re-signing O.J. Mayo and Brandan Wright, depending on the markets for each player. At this point, it appears likely that Mayo will be out of the Mavs’ target price range, with USA Today reporting his likely suitors will include the Jazz, Bucks, Timberwolves, Clippers, Trail Blazers, Bobcats and Bulls. Mayo, who will hold all of his meetings in Los Angeles, said during Dirk Nowitzki’s Heroes Celebrity Baseball Game on Saturday that he’d like to return to Dallas but is clearly looking for a big payday after playing last season on a one-year, $4 million deal.
There are surely several other free agents the Mavs have expressed interest in as Cuban and Co. begin the no-stone-unturned process of trying to rebuild a championship contender over the next two offseasons.
FRISCO, Texas -- Realistically, there is one superstar available in the free-agency market, but Dirk Nowitzki says this isn’t a Dwight Howard-or-bust summer for the Mavericks.
|Dirk Nowitzki and ESPN's Chris Broussard join Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the possibility of Dwight Howard joining the Mavericks and how Dallas should approach the situation.
“So there’s plenty of other options out there, I think. You can plug holes with really, really good players -- maybe not superstars but really, really good players -- and still be a playoff team. If that’s the route we have to take if Dwight says no, I’m sure Mark (Cuban) and Donnie (Nelson) will find the right mix of guys.”
|Tim MacMahon joins Galloway and Company to discuss the NBA draft and where the Mavericks stand on getting Dwight Howard.
Howard and Paul didn’t opt out of their contracts, ending up moving to the two Los Angeles teams and delaying their entrance into free agency for a year. The Mavs swung and missed at Williams -- a half-hearted attempt by Cuban, who didn’t take part in the face-to-face recruiting pitch.
The Mavs’ hopes to convince Paul to leave L.A. for Dallas this summer essentially died with the Clippers’ hiring of coach Doc Rivers.
|Former Maverick Jason Terry joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss being traded to Brooklyn, Dirk Nowitzki and having his jersey in the rafters at the American Airlines Center one day.
“How do I feel? I don’t know. There were reports yesterday that we were in the lead, but I don’t buy into all that. You have to wait until he makes a final decision, and then I’ll get excited or be down.”
However, if Howard doesn’t come to Dallas, Dirk is determined not to be down for long. He mentions names like Milwaukee point guard Brandon Jennings, Utah center Al Jefferson and Denver swingman Andre Iguodala as examples of players who can help the Mavs return to the playoffs.
Putting together a playoff-caliber roster is apparently the face of the franchise’s standard for a successful summer.
This isn’t an immediate need for the Mavericks … unless they move Shawn Marion to create more space under the salary cap.
Another possible scenario: The Mavs could decide to move the 35-year-old Marion and his $9.32 million salary after acquiring a small forward they feel is an upgrade.
There are only one or two small forwards on the market – depending on a decision made in Boston – who are in that class. A look at those players and some other small forwards who low-dollar fits for the Dallas bench:
The 6-foot-6, 207-pound Iguodala is a premier athlete, blessed with speed, quickness and leaping ability that allow him to excel in transition and as a defender.
Iguodala’s explosiveness makes him an outstanding finisher. According to hoopdata.com, he made 74.1 percent of his shots at the rim last season. Only five starting wings (including Marion, by the way) converted a higher percentage of those rim attacks.
Iguodala is one of precious few wings who are arguably better perimeter defenders than Marion, although Iguodala doesn’t have the versatility to occasionally cover power forwards. Former Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri called Iguodala’s omission from the All-Defensive team “mind-boggling,” pointing out that the U.S. Olympic team called on him when it needed a defensive stopper.
|Chuck Cooperstein joins the show to talk about the Dallas Mavericks and how he thinks the NBA draft will turn out.
Iguodala’s biggest flaw: He’s a below-average perimeter shooter (31.7 percent on 3s, 31.0 percent on long 2s last season). That limits him as a halfcourt offensive threat and would make it difficult to play him with Marion if the Mavs ended up with both players on their roster.
Iguodala isn’t going to come cheap, either. He exercised his early termination option instead of making a $16.2 million salary in Denver next season. He won’t get that much per year again, but he’ll get at least $40 million over four years.
Paul Pierce: It remains to be seen whether the longtime Celtics star will hit the open market. He’s due to make $15.3 million in the final year of his deal this season, but Boston can buy him out for $5 million as the Celtics begin the rebuilding process. Pierce has also been the subject of a lot of trade talks.
Josh Smith to Boston and Pierce to Dallas. The security of Pierce’s buyout was a small factor in the Mavs’ interest at the time.
There is no question that Pierce, who turns 36 in October, can still play. He averaged 18.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists for a playoff team last season. But does he fit Mark Cuban’s two-year plan?
Even if the Mavs pursue Pierce, the interest might not be mutual. At this point of his career, would a two-year plan to contend appeal to him? Of course, the fact that the Mavs could offer more money than most, if not all, readymade contenders could affect Pierce’s thought process.
Carlos Delfino: He was relatively effective as a 3-point-firing sixth man for the Rockets, but Houston will decline his team option as they try to carve out enough cap space to get in the Dwight derby. Donnie Nelson says you can never have enough shooters, and the 6-foot-6, 230-pound Delfino hit 37.5 percent of his 421 long-range attempts last season. He’s also a savvy player, which makes him intriguing as the Mavs attempt to drastically improve their basketball IQ.
But Delfino is limited athletically, can be exposed defensively and has seen his rebounding numbers drop significantly in recent years (3.3 per game in 25.2 minutes last season). The room midlevel exception ($2.652 million) might be a decent value for Delfino.
Chase Budinger: He could be a good buy as a low-risk, high-upside guy. The 25-year-old Budinger has good size (6-foot-7, 218 pounds) and is a great leaper. He’s shown the ability to score (9.4 points in 21.6 minutes per game in his career), but his offensive game could certainly benefit from the kind of one-on-one time Corey Brewer put in with Rick Carlisle. There are knocks on Budinger about his inconsistent motor, and he went into free agency on a low note after injuries limited him to 23 games for Minnesota last season.
C.J. Miles: It’s uncertain whether the Dallas Skyline product will be a free agent. He’s Cleveland property, but his $2.25 million salary is fully unguaranteed. The Mavs had discussions with Miles last summer. He’s a high-character guy who averaged 11.2 points and shot 38.4 percent from 3-point range for the Cavaliers last season. If nothing else, he’d be a great guy to have coming off the bench for the veteran’s minimum.
Dorell Wright: The 6-foot-9 Wright is just a perimeter shooter offensively. He’s a decent rebounder and not a dreadful defender. If the money is right – meaning not much – he could make sense for the Mavs as a bench player.
Corey Maggette: He has scored more than 13,000 points while playing most of his career on bad teams. He essentially took last season off, playing only 18 games for the Pistons. Not sure if the Mavs would want a declining player with a selfish rep on the roster, even at the minimum.
Add this to the long list of games the Mavs figured out how to lose.
|Rick Carlisle joins Galloway & Company to discuss changing up his starting lineup, Brittney Griner possibly playing for the Mavericks and much more.
After leading by as many as eight points early in the fourth quarter, the Mavs were clinging to a one-point lead in the final minute. At that point, the Mavs had a well-rounded meltdown.
Poor offensive execution? Check. Poor spacing helped cause a Dirk Nowitzki turnover with 19.9 seconds remaining, and rarely used reserve Anthony Morrow, of all people, ended up jacking up a wanna-be game-winning shot at the buzzer, only to have the 25-footer swatted by Corey Brewer.
Awful rebounding? Check. The Nuggets extended their last possession with two offensive rebounds, giving Denver 18 offensive boards for the game. Allowing Brewer to come from above the top of the key to grab a missed free throw was especially costly -- and inexcusable -- for the Mavs.
Terrible defense? Check. Andre Iguodala cruised to the rim after crossing over Vince Carter en route to the game-winning layup.
“We’ve got to win that game,” said Mavs center Brandan Wright, who had a team-high 16 points but went scoreless in the second half. “This is a bad situation. It’s been the story of our season. This is terrible, the worst loss we’ve had all year. We had it and we just fumbled it away.”
The worst loss all year? That’s debatable for the 36-39 Mavs.
The Mavs have been on the wrong end of too many blowouts, but it’s games such as this that will bother them while they’re watching the playoffs from the couch. As Carter said, he doesn’t have enough fingers to count how many times the Mavs have found ways to lose games they should have won.
“There’s gotta be 20 of those games we lost,” said Nowitzki, who was held to 13 points and went scoreless in the fourth quarter. “It stings just as much as all the rest of them. The amount of games we feel like we gave away is tough. This is another one we’ve got to have -- multiple chances to win, basically one rebound to seal it, one big basket. It’s tough.
“It’s tough, but we haven’t shown all season that on the road consistently we can win those games.”
Shawn Marion described the Mavs’ offense as “going from sugar to s---” in the fourth quarter, during which the Mavs scored only 17 points on 7-of-19 shooting. But it’s Denver’s last, long offensive possession that will make the flight to Sacramento so miserable.
After Brewer’s steal, the Nuggets botched a transition opportunity, resulting in Wilson Chandler missing a 4-footer in traffic. Denver forward Kenneth Faried fought for his 19th rebound of the night and got fouled. The Mavs still led by one after Faried missed both of his free throws, but Brewer outhustled everybody to the loose ball to give the Nuggets one last chance.
“We didn’t execute well offensively, and I’ll take responsibility for that,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “But we’ve just got to get a rebound.”
After a timeout, Iguodala made the Mavs pay for failing to get that one rebound. Iguodala got the ball on the right wing, started to drive toward the baseline, left Carter flat-footed with a crossover, cruised through the middle of the defense and laid in the game winner with his left hand.
“We’ve got to make Iguodala earn that,” Carter said. “We can’t just let him go down the middle of our defense and get a layup. We’ve got to put him on the floor, foul him, something.”
Added Nowitzki, who noted that he could have hacked Iguodala: “To give up a game-winning layup is too easy.”
If the Mavs get that one rebound, nobody cares that the Dallas offense was dreadful down the stretch. The Mavs would have been celebrating their most surprising win of the season en route to Sacramento.
“One freakin’ stop,” Carter said, “and we’re having a different conversation.”
Instead, it was the same conversation the Mavs have had so many times during this disappointing season.
No. 5 Denver Nuggets
George Karl's group plays it fast and loose and likes to have fun -- and Karl is having more fun ever since the exits of Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith. The Nuggets showed it in a steamroller performance on Dec. 26, the second game of the season, with a 115-93 whiplashing of the Mavs. Of course, the Nuggets weren't as good as that game might have suggested and the Mavs weren't as bad. Dallas took the next three meetings with both teams missing various key players in each game. Much has changed since their last meeting on March 19 starting with center JaVale McGee's arrival and Nene's departure a few days earlier -- although the sometimes comically erratic McGee didn't play in that series finale against Dallas -- as both squads bring new looks into the 2012-13 season.
Nuggets 115, @Mavs 93
Mavs 105, @Nuggets 95
@Mavs 102, Nuggets 84
Mavs 112, @Nuggets 95
This season's games
Dec. 28: @Nuggets
April 4: vs. Nuggets
April 12: vs. Nuggets
The Nuggets had a deep roster dotted with impressive players last season, but boasted not an All-Star among them. That changed last week with the four-team blockbuster Dwight Howard deal that sent longtime 76ers wing Andre Iguodala to Denver with the Nuggets sending shooting guard Arron Afflalo and reserve forward Al Harrington to Orlando. Iguodala, a 2012 All-Star and member of gold-medal winning Team USA, will share the backcourt with speedster point guard Ty Lawson and he'll bring a missing defensive mentality that can only help the league's top scoring team last season that finished 29th in scoring defense. A long and versatile frontcourt includes Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried and the 7-foot McGee. Denver also made a nice pickup with 6-11 Dallas native Anthony Randolph to add to a solid bench that includes ever-steady point guard Andre Miller, Chandler -- if Karl chooses to make him the sixth man -- Corey Brewer and a couple of 7-footers in Timofey Mozgov and Kosta Koufos.
How the Mavs match up
New Mavs point guard Darren Collison, a 6-foot, 180-pound blur, certainly gives the Mavs more backcourt speed than ever before to stick with the shifty 5-foot-11 Lawson. That should come as music to the ears of small forward Shawn Marion, who too many times last season was asked to take the opposing point guard because Jason Kidd and Vince Carter simply couldn't. Marion won't be singing long now that Iguodala gives the Nuggets a formidable trio at the wing with Gallinari and Chandler now potentially popping off the bench. This type of squad could be a situation in which Mavs rookie forward Jae Crowder becomes a valuable addition as a strong, 6-6 wing defender to assist Marion. Shooting guard Dahntay Jones also gives Dallas another defensive option on the perimeter it didn't have last season. Iguodala really helps the Nuggets' defensive situation. Against the Mavs he'll be able to stick O.J. Mayo, who the Mavs hope will emerge as the second scorer behind Dirk Nowitzki. Denver still has no answer for Dirk, not that many teams do. Last season against the Nuggets, Nowitzki averaged 22.5 points in 29.3 minutes and shot 53.8 percent from the floor, well above his season average of 45.7 percent.
Jason Kidd's minutes restrictions might have to be thrown out the window tonight when the Dallas Mavericks take on the guard-savvy Philadelphia 76ers.
The Mavs will be without Jason Terry (personal reasons), Delonte West (fractured finger) and Rodrigue Beaubois (personal reasons) tonight against a club that is tied for the most home wins in the NBA with 13.
Two guards lead the Sixers in scoring; reserve Lou Williams (16.1 ppg) and Jrue Holiday (13.7). And then there's swingman Andre Iguodala (12.2) and Evan Turner (8.9) off the bench with Sweet Lou. Dallas is down to Kidd, Vince Carter and Dominique Jones.
How do the Mavs keep up with all those young, athletic guards? Does Shawn Marion continue his defense of the point guard or does he have to stick on Iguodala?
Good questions. We'll have to wait for the answers.
Records: Mavs (19-11), Sixers (20-10)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Wells Fargo Center
TV: ESPN, FSSW
Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM; 1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: Jason Kidd. Plain and simple. With only Dominique Jones (and Lamar Odom) available to run the point, how long can Kidd go? Who does he guard? Can he keep the hot hand in a game in which the Mavs will need scoring from him? Kidd is coming off a season-high 13 points on 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc in Wednesday's win against Denver. Coach Rick Carlisle is trying to keep Kidd's minutes around 25 and no more than 32. That could be challenging tonight, the start of three games in four days.
Key matchup: Lou Williams vs. Shawn Williams/Dominique Jones
Typically, this would be a great matchup of sixth men, but Jason Terry is not with the team for personal reasons. So, that means Dominique Jones is a prime candidate to go up against the Sixers' 6-foot-1 leading scorer. And when Jones is not in, does that mean 6-7 Shawn Marion must take Sweet Lou. This is a difficult matchup for Jason Kidd and Vince Carter, so this should be very, very interesting.
Injuries: Mavs - G Delonte West (fractured right ring finger) is out; G Jason Terry (personal reasons) is out; G Rodrigue Beaubois (personal reasons) is out. Sixers - C Spencer Hawes (left Achilles strain) is doubtful.
Up next: Mavs at New York Knicks, noon, Sunday.
The Mavericks will make a trade eventually in the wake of Caron Butler's season-ending knee injury.
How can we be so sure?
Simple: The Mavs always make a trade.
Yet while sources with knowledge of the team's thinking say there is indeed some sentiment within the organization to pursue Stephen Jackson -- who was hoping to land with the Mavs last season when Golden State dealt him to Charlotte instead -- one source told ESPNDallas.com that the smaller-scale acquisition of a player who can fit into the Mavs' available $3 million trade exception ranks as the more likely move for now.
But the immediate plan, as covered in this cyberspace Sunday, is giving the players on the current roster some time to prove they can -- or can't -- cover for Butler. Pointing to the Boston Celtics and how they've consistently weathered injuries without much dropoff since their championship season in 2007-08, Mavs owner Mark Cuban said: "That's more the model than anything else."
Some evidence to illustrate Dallas' deliberate-for-now pace when it comes to making changes: Word arrived Wednesday that the Mavs want to take their time filling the roster spot vacated by Wednesday's release of little-used Steve Novak as opposed to immediately signing a fill-in to a 10-day contract.
The Mavs, though, are indeed huddling to assess their trade options already, so they're ready to pounce if Roddy Beaubois' worryingly slow recovery from a broken foot continues to drag. Or if the regular-season load on Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd gets even heavier than it is now, when it's already pretty daunting.
Team officials consider the Mavs' in-house harmony to be the best seen in their locker room for years, but sources say that it's really not chemistry concerns that would put them off the edgy Jackson. Not with Nowitzki and Kidd -- veterans Jackson respects -- around to bond with him. And not with Jackson's proven abilities to make 3s, play dogged D and perform in the playoffs ... all of which would have sounded appealing even with Butler healthy.
|ESPN NBA senior writer Marc Stein joins Ben and Skin to talk all things Mavericks, the NBA trade market and much more.
The ex-Warrior wouldn’t be as pricy as going for Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala -- who isn't as well-rounded offensively as Jackson and thus not nearly as appealing from a fit standpoint -- but one source close to the situation says Cuban would have to be sold that acquiring Jackson is an “over the top” move.
Even in a West far more wide open than anticipated, Dallas isn't quite sure.
Houston's Kevin Martin remains a fantasy target -- coveted by the Mavs since last winter -- but the Rockets have made it clear that trading Martin is not in their plans ... and that trading him to an in-state rival probably never will be.
As Cuban noted in his Tuesday night session with reporters, speaking generally about players he'd want to go for: "The other side has to want to make the trade."
Memphis' O.J. Mayo, although he's not a small forward, is an interesting name and presumably not untouchable given all the troubles Mayo is having in Memphis. Sacramento's Omri Casspi -- whose modest $1.3 million salary more than fits into the $4.3 million and $3 million trade exceptions Dallas has available through July 13 -- is a small forward and is another name known to intrigue the Mavs.
The price for either, however, would be high. The Grizzlies are expected to ask for a lot in return for Mayo, no matter how mad they are about his role in this week's fight with teammate Tony Allen on the team plane, largely because they gave up Kevin Love to get him in the 2008 draft. Casspi, meanwhile, has several teams chasing him, but sources say Sacramento wants a point guard or another need-filler in return for the Israeli, who is treasured by Kings co-owners Joe and Gavin Maloof. It remains to be seen whether the Kings will eventually be willing to work with a team offering, say, a future first-round pick and a willingness to take on Francisco Garcia's or Beno Udrih's contract.
The Mavs, meanwhile, also continue to cling to hope that a big second-half comeback looms for the dynamic-in-theory Roddy Beaubois, who has the unquestioned ability to provide scoring on the weakside opposite Nowitzki in ways no one else the roster (including Butler) can ... but who still hasn't practiced once since October's re-aggravation of the foot he broke in August.
Will Beaubois be the closest thing to a marquee in-season addition we see from the Mavs? You never want to assume anything with Mark Cuban's operation, but that is the vibe emanating from Mavsland as we speak, with the trade deadline still 50 days away.
"Other than the Spurs," Cuban said Tuesday night, "it's not like the other teams aren't having their issues, too."
Translation: Cuban wants to see how the deepest team Dallas believes it has assembled in years can cope with a season-ending injury before deciding it's fatal to their title chances.
"We're a much better team with Caron, obviously, but we're still a better team than we were last year even without Caron," Cuban said.
Join me as we get the Mavs chat cranking again to find out.
To submit your questions now, click here.
"I love the way he's playing. He's been ready to play every single game he's been here in a Mavs uniform," Carlisle said of Stevenson. "It's a credit to his professionalism."
Stevenson certainly hasn't given Carlisle any reason not to start him for a third consecutive game in tonght's home game against the Philadelphia 76ers (2-6), losers at Oklahoma City on Wednesday night. The Sixers were without Andre Iguodala for a second straight game with Achilles' tendinitis in his right foot.
Stevenson could be a valuable player in this one if he's asked to start against Philadelphia rookie Evan Turner, who played more than 38 minutes at Oklahoma City.
Not only has Stevenson been a strong perimeter defender as he also showed at times last season, but Stevenson is knocking down the 3-point shot as well. He had 11 points in the Memphis win, hitting 3-of-5 from downtown. In the last two games, he's made 5-of-10.
Meanwhile, Terry hasn't missed a beat coming off the bench the last two games after starting the first five. He scored 25 points at Memphis and he's put up 20 points or more in three of his last four games to take his scoring average to a shade under 20 a game.
Well, that looks a lot more likely now that the Utah Jazz have apparently swooped in to swipe Al Jefferson, as ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported.
"We're not just looking for reasons to get players that aren't going to help us," Donnie Nelson told us on ESPN 103.3’s Galloway & Company last week. "It wouldn't make sense if we all of a sudden got some fossil at the end of his career and it cost us $10 million, plus tax, and he didn't crack the rotation.
"We've got that [Dampier] chip. It's a valuable one. We're actively in discussions, but we'll pull that trigger [only] if it makes sense and we can take a significant step forward."
Now what do the Mavs do with Dampier’s evaporating contract?
They can hold their breath and hope that the Hornets finally change their mind about trading Chris Paul. Kinda like you can plan for retirement by buying lottery tickets.
The Mavs want to package the contracts of DeShawn Stevenson (one season left at $4.1 million) and Matt Carroll ($11.7 million over the next three seasons) with Dampier’s $13 million salary that would be wiped off the other team’s books moments after the NBA approved the trade.
Here are a handful of potential options (remaining contract in parentheses):
Richard Hamilton ($37.5 million over three years, final season is partially guaranteed): The Pistons are reportedly willing to dump their three-time All-Star shooting guard for future salary cap relief. Hamilton might be the Mavs’ best shooting guard since Michael Finley, but Rip has some red flags. He is 32 and his shooting percentages have plummeted the last two seasons, when he missed a total of 51 games.
Monta Ellis ($44 million over four years) He’s only 24 and averaged 25.5 points and 5.3 assists for Nellie’s run-and-gun Warriors last season. Does Rodrigue Beaubois have that type of potential? The excitement about Beaubois – and the fact that he comes at a fraction of Ellis’ price – might prevent the Mavs from considering a combo guard.
Danny Granger ($50.9 million over four years): He’s a versatile go-to guy who can defend and is in his prime at 27. The problem: The Pacers might not part with him for financial relief. Granger’s name came up in trade rumors before the draft, but the return would have been Devin Harris and the No. 3 overall pick.
Andre Iguodala ($56.5 million over four years): The Mavs and Sixers had serious discussions before the deal with Washington went down last season. He’s a poor perimeter shooter, but he does a lot of other things well (17.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.7 steals last season). But he’ s not an elite player, although he has that sort of price tag. The Sixers want to pair Elton Brand (three years, $51.2 million) with Iguodala in a mega salary dump, but Brand’s contract is a deal-killer.
Gilbert Arenas ($80.2 million over four years): Forget all the off-court drama for a moment. It’s difficult to see the Mavs paying a gunner (so to speak) with a scary injury history more than Dirk Nowitzki. And, once again, the Mavs hope that Beaubois will become a prolific combo guard at a fraction of the price.
Andris Biedrins ($36 million over four years): That’s a lot of money to pay a guy who would be a backup center, especially since Biedrins’ offensive skill set consists of finishing around the basket. But the 24-year-old runs the floor and rebounds well, and the Mavs need somebody to pair with Brendan Haywood.
You won't hear any regret now -- from Mavs fans or the Mavs themselves -- after Dallas managed to acquire two front-line players (Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood) and some additional depth (DeShawn Stevenson) in the trade they did end up swinging with Washington.
Iguodala's defensive potential is considerable. Ditto for his versatility. There's also little doubt he'd get better looks from the perimeter than he's ever seen playing alongside Dirk Nowitzki, just as Jason Kidd has discovered.
Yet the question persists whether he shoots the ball well enough at his position to justify that contract, especially since the Mavs have at times been punished in recent years for their lack of floor-spreading options outside of Nowitzki beyond Jason Terry and the ever-improving Kidd. The Sixers have been imploring Iguodala for years to attack the rim more, but he: (A) continues to hoist; and (B) insists his overall game has been hampered by a worsening case of plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
Seventy-one players have attempted at least 200 triples this season ... but Iguodala is one of just five such players shooting less than 30 percent from 3. Those five:
Rasheed Wallace (Boston) 27.8 percent
Baron Davis (Los Angeles Clippers) 28.4 percent
Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia) 28.5 percent
Dwyane Wade (Miami) 29.3 percent
Mike Dunleavy (Indiana) 29.7 percent
New names will probably pop up over the next few days and until the Feb. 18 trade deadline, but Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala and Washington's Caron Butler continue to dominate the Mavs-centric rumor mill.
The Mavs have serious interest in Iguodala, but a deal for the explosive Sixers swingman appears to be a long shot at this point. The word is that Philadelphia's front office has changed its mind and is no longer looking to unload the 26-year-old with the massive contract (four years, $56 million after this season).
That could change if a team is willing to also take back the contract of big man Samuel Dalembert or power forward/center Elton Brand. Dalembert, who is due more than $12 million next season, would push Mark Cuban near the breaking point of his financial pain threshold. Dallas won't even discuss Brand, who is due $51 million over the next three years.
A trade the Mavs would probably pull the trigger on is Josh Howard/Drew Gooden/Matt Carroll-for-Iguodala/Dalembert. Including Carroll ($11.7 million over next three seasons) in the package at least lessens the sting to Cuban's wallet, but the deal would still be a major cost-cutting move for the Sixers. The problem is the Sixers seem to have reconsidered their stance on the importance of shedding salary over being competitive.
The Mavs don't want to do a deal that's based on Howard-for-Butler because they don't believe that's a significant enough upgrade to forfeit the financial freedom the team option in Howard's contract offers this summer. They especially don't want to do such a deal with Washington insisting that DeShawn Stevenson, who has a player option for $4.1 million next season, is shipped off with Butler.
If Washington is willing to expand the discussions to include big man Brendan Haywood in the deal -- here are some specific possibilities -- the Mavs' interest would soar. That hasn't happened yet, as Washington is exploring other options with Butler.
Another factor as the Mavs consider the trade landscape is that Howard appears healthy and has recently shown glimpses of his old form. The Mavs believe now more than ever that unless they can make a major upgrade, they're better off holding on to Howard and hoping that he's at his best when it matters most, much like last season.
UPDATE: ESPN.com's Marc Stein reports that the Mavs and Wizards are now discussing a deal that includes Haywood.
Is the face of the franchise on board with making a blockbuster move?
"That’s not for me to decide," Dirk Nowitzki said. "I play hard every night. I just work here, and we’ll go from there.
"But I think we showed earlier this season that we got what it takes. We won some big games, won some big games on the road. It’s just that now we’re in a little funk, little hole. We’ve just got to keep on plugging. It sounds ridiculous, but that’s all we can do now. I’m not looking for any help but in this locker room."
Dirk is usually as straight-up a superstar as you'll find, but he's feeding us a bunch of bull here. And wisely so. As sensitive as Josh Howard is, Dirk doesn't need to publicly lobby to get rid of him.
I don't know exactly what Dirk thinks the Mavs should do in the trade market. But I do know that he will be asked for his input on any major move the Mavs make, as was the case before the Jason Kidd deal.
Dirk didn't lobby for that deal, either. He doesn't barge into the offices of Mark Cuban or Donnie Nelson and make demands. He waits until he's asked to weigh in with his opinion. And my hunch is it'll be slightly different than what he said after the Mavs' fourth loss in five games.
On a couple of somewhat related notes, Washington's Caron Butler capped a 31-point, nine-rebound performance by nailing a 19-foot stepback jumper to beat Orlando, and Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala contributed 14 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in a win over the Hornets last night.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett at Mavericks media day to discuss his expectations for the upcoming season.
Play Podcast Mark Cuban joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Mavericks' new GM Gersson Rosas and much more.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mark Cuban's comments from Las Vegas about the Mavericks' offseason, how he sees the team without Dwight Howard and more.
Play Podcast Marc Stein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why the Mavericks didn't want to match Cleveland's offer to Andrew Bynum, what's next for the Mavs and the possibility of Dirk Nowitzki ending his career elsewhere.
Play Podcast Jeff Platt fires quick-hitters at Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon in the weekly sports standoff about Andrew Bynum, the Mavs' current backcourt, a potential Nelson Cruz suspension and more.
Play Podcast ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why she thinks Andrew Bynum got a bad rap in Los Angeles and how he would fit in with the Mavericks.
Play Podcast Buy, sell or hold? If Dwight Howard goes to another team, what are the Mavs' options? The guys take a look at a list of potential fallback options.
Play Podcast ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard.