Setting The Scene
How have the Mavs' trade plans changed with Butler's injury? Probably very little. … and in this sense, owner Mark Cuban's "opportunistic'' pronouncement – "We do the same thing'' – rings true.
Previously the Mavs needed another superior scorer, preferably a wing and a shot-creator, so Dirk wouldn't be the only player capable of carrying the team. Butler was getting better in that role alongside Dirk, and although he still wasn't a guy who drew consistent double-teams, he was starting to prove himself capable of being the very good role player who could carry the team at times offensively, ala Jet.
Previously the Mavs had a good pair of starting forwards in Dirk and Butler, both backed up by a player who was capable of starting. Without Butler, there are still two starting-caliber forwards on the roster in Dirk and Marion, but a weakening in the backup play behind both. But is "backup forward" going to be a high priority on a team's shopping list, where they expend everything to get a better one? Probably not.
Previously the Mavs needed another superstar. Butler was good, but a long ways from that.
Now with Butler injured, other than some weakening at a backup slot, the needs are still about the same. Find a superstar. Get much better offensively. And maybe get a third forward who can play both ends of the floor and round out a Dirk-Marion-someone mix. In summary, the ideal answer would still be to get Carmelo Anthony.
Unfortunately, before the Butler injury their chance to get Carmelo into a Mav uniform was the longest of long shots and now the odds are even worse. The Nuggets still have the same trade demands that probably exceed the Mavs ability to meet, and the Mavs' assets are even less, as Butler's value has been reduced from "useful starter who might help your team win games as his contract winds down" to "injured guy who has an expiring contract." (Or as Fish's source put it, Caron's "value has been halved.'')
So, what else might have some promise? Let's look around.
The Big Names: Philly's Andre Iguodala
While Melo is the superstar that's available but out of reach, Andre Iguodala is the not-quite-a-superstar who is probably a) available to the Mavs to some degree, b) but only at a price that makes him undesirable to the Mavs.
Let's repeat a couple of foundation pieces from yesterday's DallasBasketball.com report on the Mavs' in-house thinking on a trade for Andre Iguodala.
Several weeks ago, a Cleveland Cavs' beat writer dropped this nugget: "League sources indicate the Philadelphia 76ers are attempting to trade guard/forward Andre Iguodala...(The asking price is unknown, but) the idea that the Sixers are listening to offers for Iguodala and will seriously consider moving him is the key thing here."
A week or two later we heard that Philly turned down an offer for Iguodala from Portland, involving Nick Batum and Joel Przybilla.
Regardless of whatever conclusions we might draw from those reports, they confirmed one thing for sure: the Sixers have Iggy on the market and are weighing offers. That shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, and that's a crucial point. For the right price, he's gettable.
The second thing we know about Iguodala is he fits the Mavs' positional needs. He's a 6-6 wing who's talented, he can handle the ball well enough to play shooting guard (matching the Mavs' long-standing need for a full-sized shooting guard) although he's been more efficient as a small forward (matching the need to help fill the minutes at forward vacated by the loss of Butler), and he plays both ends of the floor (matching the Mavs' newly discovered emphasis on defense).
Is this the guy? Should the Mavs jump in the middle of this? If not, what's not to like? In some ways, he makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately, he's not a highly-skilled shooter, and the Mavs' biggest need is to find a player who can help carry the offensive load when Dirk is sitting, as well as alongside him.
Is he still worth having? Yes, at the right price. He's definitely an upgrade, let's make that clear. But since he's not the scorer that Melo is, and has never really been the offensive go-to guy on his team, he wouldn't bring the same level of improvement to the Mavs chances, and that fact puts a much lower cap on the price that the Mavs might be willing to pay to get him. What would Philly want, and how much might the Mavs be willing to pay, is the key here.
The Big Names: Houston's Kevin Martin
Also on the market is Kevin Martin.
Wait! Didn't we hear public denials from the Rockets on his availability, or get inferences that he wouldn't be moved for less than a star or superstar? Yep we did.
Don't believe it.
The reason his name keeps coming up is because – despite his role as the top scorer in Houston – the Rockets are listening. The protestations that he's way more valuable than those rumored offers? Consider it negotiations, through the media, and PR aimed at the fans and team. NBA GMs don't toss out wild trade offers like we do from the internet – they instead having an ongoing and working knowledge, based on repeated contact, of which players other teams are willing to consider trading. And it's revealing that Martin's name has popped up repeatedly in talks.
Martin's appeal to Dallas – and in fact to many other teams as well – is that he's a superior scorer from the wing. He's often been his team's best offensive player, drawing the defensive focus.
Then why is he available? The problem is that he's overpaid by quite a lot, and with the Rockets loaded with kids who need minutes on a team mired in mediocrity, he's somewhat of a luxury. In addition, his defense is decidedly lousy, he's injury-prone, and he tends to be on teams that don't do well – so much so that at some point, you have to wonder if he's part of the problem.
But let's not lose sight of the underlying truth, which is that because of his offensive prowess and the Mavs need for same, they might see him as highly desirable, at the right price. He won't come in a giveaway – we're seeing the Rockets already trying to exact a nice return from someone despite his flaws – but this one could heat up as we get move closer to the trade deadline.
Mavs' Internal Issues that Impact Trade Choices
Butler undergoing surgery to end his season certainly impacts the Mavs' direction. There will be no thought that he might come back. And his trade value has certainly changed – the rules still allow him to be used as part of a trade, but they won't see him as having any trade value beyond that of trade filler or expiring contract.
The season-ending aspect won't bring any help from the league either. Because the end came after November 30, there won't be any Disabled Player Exemption granted, and the Mavs will have to make do with their existing assets and whatever they can do from there.
Complicating matters further is the still-hazy status of Roddy Beaubois. When will he be available, and how much of a difference (if any) will he be able to make after such a layoff? If Roddy were to return before the trade deadline and look like an offensive impact player, the desire for someone like Kevin Martin might vanish. But at this point, the Mavs won't even hazard a guess as to when he might return, as they're stuck in the wait-n-see mode that sometimes occurs with injuries, and left to guess as to their degree of need and the amount of solution they currently have on hand.
(Fish's interview with Roddy B is a must-read … it's about progress and positiveness from Roddy's perspective. But we're still wait-n-see.)
Another somewhat internal matter is the development and availability of non-Mav-roster players on their D-league team in Frisco. Of particular note might be Joe Alexander, who plays the same position as Butler, and was promising enough out of college that he was drafted eighth overall a few years ago. He's improving and playing well for the Legends, leading the team in scoring (19.3 ppg on 48% shooting), rebounding (11.1 rpg), and he's an athletic 6-8 forward who can play both PF and SF as needed. Just as importantly, he's not on another NBA team, so the issues of finding the right trade don't enter the equation. But the Mavs don't have an open roster spot at the moment, which means if they wanted to add him, they'd have to cut or trade a current player to clear room.
Roster changes are easier at the moment, with Cardinal and Novak on non-guaranteed contracts – and indeed, this following trigger has been pulled on Novak: The non-guarantee means if they wanted to replace one or the other, they could simply waive them (by Jan. 10) and end the contract without owing anything more. Cardinal has found a place in the rotation, so he's certainly not in danger, but Novak is lightly-used and is now waived.
Yes, that frees Dallas to pick a replacement if the Mavs wanted to add someone like Alexander instead.
Then again, if they wanted Alexander rather than Novak, they've had plenty of time to make that move all season, and haven't chosen to do so. Yet.
One other deadline is coming in a few days, which in theory will reduce a bit of the Mavs' trade assets. Trade exceptions – which allow a team to take back a player in trade without sending out a salary match – expire if not used within 365 days. The Mavs have an existing $2.9M one from the trade with NJ that brought Eddie Najera that expires January 11. However, given the fact they have three other trade exceptions if needed ($4.3M, $3.0M, and $1.03M), combined with the fact that the vast majority of them simply expire unused because they increase a team's payroll when used, this one won't be missed if they don't suddenly find a use for it in the next week.
We invite you to become a Mavs Premium DB.com member in order to get more info on, among many other things, what the Mavs might do (or not do) in the trade market.
Coming examples of what you need to know:
*What one surprising factor is at the top of the Mavs' evaluation criteria for trades?
*How might that impact a quest for Iggy, Martin, or any number of other players that might be available to them?
*We'll match the blockbuster trade possibilities to the Mavs' assets, and weigh them against the Mavs' thinking in pointed detail.
*Who are the six specific teams to keep an eye on, and if the Mavs look for a non-blockbuster, which team has the best assets to be a Mavs trade partner?
DallasBasketball.com will point you in the right direction! All this and more, coming soon when you sign up for Mavs Premium DB.com membership!