With the current roster, no. Hence Cuban’s interest in holding a fire sale. Or rather, a “I’ll take on any contract you don’t want if I like them” sale.
Though Nowitzki’s return has injected new life into a struggling (and sometimes docile) Mavericks convocation, they’re still seven games under .500 and 4.5 games back of the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.
Of course, Dallas would like to believe its going to turn the season around. It would like to believe that with Dirk in the fold, it possesses a winning formula. It would like to believe that its guaranteed to the see the light of the postseason. Yet it doesn’t work that way.
The Mavericks could possibly string together a nice win streak, and claw and scrap their way into the playoffs. But as a team that ranks 10th in points scored per game and 27th in points allowed, it’s clear that Dallas is simply too old, shallow and mediocre to make a legitimate championship push should they even make the postseason And Cuban knows it.
Which is why it should come as no surprise that the ever eccentric Cuban is not only prepared to, but actively seeking (via Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com) to make a trade:
Memo to the rest of the NBA: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is in “Let’s Make a Deal” mode.
“We’re letting everybody know that the “Bank of Cuban” is open,” Cuban said Monday night, a couple of days after declaring that there was a “100 percent chance” the Mavs would aggressively pursue trade opportunities before the Feb. 21 deadline.”If it’s the right deal, we don’t mind taking back money. But we’re not going to do a trade just to do a trade. It’s got to be worthwhile.”
The Mavs have the ability to take back significantly more salary in trades because they are under the salary cap. Cuban has continually insisted that is a primary reason he opted for financial flexibility instead of re-signing several key contributors to the Mavs’ 2010-11 title team, not just because they wanted to have enough salary cap space to sign a superstar in free agency.
It’s hard to fault Cuban’s logic or aggression. This is not what he or the rest of Dallas envisioned for the Mavericks, even when the team was forced to patch together a seemingly new roster over the offseason. Yet while Dallas has the financial means necessary to take on a serious contract and thus partake in a blockbuster trade, are they actually going to?
Cuban and company may be flexible financially, but their assets are limited (bordering on nonexistent) if they’re not prepared to trade Nowitzki or O.J. Mayo. Guys like Shawn Marion, Chris Kaman, Darren Collison and Elton Brand are all solid complementary pieces (on reasonable deals, mind you), but none of them scream “trade for me now.”
As such, the Mavericks will be left hoping to poach some serious talent away from a selling team near the deadline, a franchise like the Memphis Grizzlies that is in some dire need of financial relief. And that only works if teams that fall under said category remain desperate nearing the deadline.
Take the Grizzlies, for example. They’re asking the world for Rudy Gay and could be forced into an accord that’s just a virtual salary dump if no one bites. But that’s a big if. Teams unloading blockbuster caliber players aren’t likely to jump at the opportunity to acquire some financial flexibility and nothing else. Which makes life hard on the Mavericks.
Remember, Dallas hasn’t been mentioned as a viable destination for any of the big names on the block not because it doesn’t have the financial means, but because it doesn’t have the tangible means necessary to snag one.
So, do the Mavericks have a blockbuster trade in them?
If the rest of the NBA is desperate enough, yes.
Right now, however, such desperation is merely hypothetical.
Just like Dallas’ chance of pulling off a Cuban-sized trade.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com. Follow @danfavale on Twitter for his latest posts and all things NBA.