The Dallas Mavericks have goals. Building a better foundation of talent. Executing Plan Powder. And winning enough games this year to earn a playoff spot, that latter job being the most immediate one for coach Rick Carlisle.
With those goals in mind and with his role in mind, we offer you Rick's take on the coming Feb. 21 trade deadline:
"If you're asking me if we're going to trade anybody,'' Rick said as Dallas finished up its prep for Monday's Hawks-at-Mavs game, "I don't think we're going to. That's my opinion.''
(Here's the full audio of Rick's five-minute meeting with the media, which includes his Mavs-Hawks preview:)
There are reasons for the sentiment expressed at the end of that visit, especially as the 22-28 Mavs attempt to win a third straight game. But there are also reasons to look at the Mavs’ most attractive assets. ... you know, just in case.
1) Vince Carter – Though 36 years old, Carter is having his best season, on a per minute basis, since his first stint in Orlando. Further, his $3 million salary this season and next qualifies him as underpaid relative to his production. For the right team, Carter’s arrival could be viewed as the type of move that puts a team over the top in the short run while not sacrificing long term financial flexibility.
And make no mistake, as DB.com has reported exclusively: Vince has NOT been given a no-trade guarantee by the front office.
2) Shawn Marion – Though Marion doesn’t bring Carter’s offensive game to the table, he is still an elite defender who doesn’t need the ball in his hands to generate points on offense. SynergySports rates Marion as the 49th best defender in the NBA in spot-up situations and 26th off of screens. Marion is owed $8.6 million and $9.3 million this season and next, but for a contender in need of a lockdown defender, few are better than ‘Trix.
Interestingly, Marion recently claimed that he would not report to a team if it was a “(expletive) situation.” Though that may be viewed by some as trying to scare away bad teams from acquiring Marion, it’s likely a non-issue as most lottery-bound squads won't beat down the door for a 34-year-old forward making $9 million. Further, you can bet he will be privy to Dallas’ negotiations and would have his concerns assuaged before Dallas attempted to consummate any deal.
One more thing here. Read between the lines of 'Trix' protests. He eventually has worn down to the point where on Saturday night, his remarks were a concession of sorts.
“I’m just playing ball,” Marion said. “When (trade) situations arise, I’m going to let it take care of itself. But right now, I’m a Dallas Maverick and that’s what it’s about.”
So, no, he won't be traded to a loser. But he might be traded to a team in need of a final piece. And that will take care of itself, no matter what Shawn says or what Shawn wants.
3) Chris Kaman – Though his numbers are down this season, much of that is due to playing his fewest minutes per game since his rookie campaign. His offensive game is as good as ever, and he’s enjoying his best shooting season of the last four years. He’s still an elite P&R big man on offense and can space the floor for driving guards with his shooting range. Further, his $8 million expiring contract the Mavericks to bring in a player with a star-level salary from any team in need of financial flexibility.
4) Darren Collison – Though he’s rarely mentioned among Dallas’ potential tradable assets, he is still a young point guard on the rise with blazing speed on both ends playing on cheap contract. There will always be a market for that type of player in the NBA.
5) Brandan Wright/ Bernard James - Beauty will be in the eye of the beholder here as to which one is preferred over the other. However, both project as promising young big men with the potential to get better. Though Wright makes twice as much as Sarge, ($992k to $473k) both are cheap by NBA standards and would be considered “sweeteners” to any deal they were involved.
6) Dahntay Jones - He is relatively little used this season, and his primary value in any deal is his $2.9 million expiring contract.
Are there front-burner talks at this moment? No, though we are told that the Mavs are well aware of teams' plans to eventually inquire seriously about Marion. Is Rick going to be privvy to every blip on the trade talk radar screen? Not necessarily.
"Mark (Cuban) and Donnie (Nelson) work hard at this,'' Carlisle said. "The job description was made clear to me when I came here. ... Sometimes Mark and Donnie just pull the trigger on deals and I don't know about it, and sometimes they ask me. And that's OK.''
Though it’s highly possible that the Mavericks make no moves at the deadline this season, when assessing the validity of any rumor you read, keep in mind what Dallas is trying to accomplish and the tools they have available at their disposal. ... and also keep in mind that a) Carlisle himself says he is not always fully informed and b) Carlisle is under no obligation to be forthcoming with what he does know.