The trades, releases and rumors of trades that have accompanied the short “preseason” leading up to the first NBA game of the season on Dec. 25 are enough to keep anyone’s head spinning. With the future of big-name players like point guard Chris Paul and center Dwight Howard up in the air, the Dallas Mavericks have quietly made (or not made) more moves than any NBA team this offseason. It’s easy to see that the Mavericks are clearing cap space and signing veteran players to one year contracts so that they can make a run at one of the huge free agents this upcoming season, probably Howard, Paul or point guard Deron Williams.
What doesn’t make sense is that the Mavericks have broken up their returning championship team and mortaged this season in order to give someone a big season next year. Granted, winning the championship this NBA season is kind of like dunking from a trampoline, but it’s honestly the Mavericks best chance at a championship in the predictable future.
Apparently, Mavs brass doesn’t see it that way, or maybe they hope that their significant lineup changes will equal out and allow Dallas to remain competitive against the weakening (for now) Western Conference powerhouses. They began by allowing free agent center Tyson Chandler, the heart and soul of the Mavericks defense last season, to go to the New York Knicks, receiving a sizeable trade exception (i.e., Monopoly money) from the Knicks in the form of a sign and trade (hey, at least we got something). The Mavs then let small forward Caron Butler walk (he was pretty useless) pint-sized powerhouse point guard J.J. Barea walk (the Puerto Rican wanted more than a one year contract, and received a big payday form the Minnesota Timberwolves) and traded recently-acquired shooting guard Rudy Fernadez, who we got from the Portland Trailblazers in a draft day deal and little-used reserve small forward Corey Brewer for a second round pick in the distant future (2016) and another magical trade exception.
To offset some of these moves (and trust me, Dallas isn’t done moving pieces around), the Mavs used the trade exception they received from the Knicks for forward Lamar Odom (the guy who delivered a clothesline to Barea in the playoffs), and signed veteran “I love to shoot the ball any chance I get” guard Vince Carter and veteran point guard Delonte West, who is best known for his streaky shooting and an alleged relationship with Lebron James’ mom.
Confused? Well, here is an example of what next year’s lineup will look like, right now.
The Mavs are still in the market for a backup center, but odds are Brendan Haywood will be the main man come Christmas.
C Brendan Haywood
PF Dirk Nowitzki/Lamar Odom
SF Shawn Marion/Lamar Odom
SG Vince Carter/Jason Terry
PG Jason Kidd/Rodrigue Beaubois/Delonte West