The Mavericks Can't Make A Big Move Now

Feb 26, 2012; Orlando, FL, USA; Eastern Conference guard Deron Williams (8) of the New Jersey Nets shoots a three point shot late in the fourth quarter as Eastern Conference center Dwight Howard (12) of the Orlando Magic sets a pick on Western Conference guard Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers (3) at the 2012 NBA All-Star Game at the Amway Center. The West defeated the East 152-149. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

By not re-signing their free agents last season, Dallas took a calculated step back to clear space for the summer of 2012. There's nothing they can do to change that at the trade deadline, so any answers will have to come from within.

To a certain degree, the trade deadline always feels like dead air at this time of year, before heating up big time in its last full day. Does it feel deader than usual this year? I think so.

Maybe it's because of the big trades that have already happened. Chris Paul to the Lakers, for example. Then Chris Paul to the Clippers. Then Lamar Odom from the Lakers. Then ten jumpshots, directly from starving orphans, to Kobe Bryant, whose hunger for such is never sated. Or whatever.

Maybe it's because one of the things the lockout was about was how fed up the owners are with being held hostage by star players because they don't play in Miami, LA or New York. Or because, despite their efforts, they haven't been able to get a worthy second star. So the Nets and the Magic are very publicly saying we are not going down the rabbit hole again, we have been horrible pretty recently and no amount of draft picks or trade chips will get us Deron Williams or Dwight Howard, and dangit, we live in Florida and New York, too.

I kind of think it's about money, though. Money's one of those things that when you start thinking about it, it's impossible to stop. It's especially a concern this year for three reasons:

1) It must seem to owners that the only way to get impact players , at this point, is for those players to demand to be traded to you for little and 2) thanks to the Heatles everyone now dreams of a crazy free agent bonanza. It's the only way to get NBA ready players who will definitely help, without giving up anything, and transform over night, and 3) the owners actually did a better job with the lockout ceasefire than we'd think and now they have to live with it.

Maybe the idea of adding a player for the stretch run who you then have to keep paying forever as Deron Williams and Dwight Howards keep leaving their teams is just a dead idea.

Maybe. Or maybe it's going to be exactly the same as always, and we will be surprised.

Still I sincerely doubt the Mavs will be doing anything at the trade deadline.

On paper it makes a lot of sense. What you need for a trade is hope and struggle. The hope that you're just one piece way, and the struggle, because you don't have it. The Mavericks, a team that just won the championship, obviously have hope-and no one who watched their last seven games could imagine that they don't have struggle. And lots of it.

The biggest need, of course, is at center, as David Lee became the latest big man to destroy the Mavs' chances of winning a game within the first five minutes, and that dates back to well before Brendan Haywood got hurt. But athleticism and youth are huge problems. They can't close out on the three, just like a certain Lakers team last year, and it is killing them, just also like a certain Lakers team last year. They haven't won a loose ball since the Truman administration.

Obviously, these guys aren't as bad as they look right now, and shockingly, they do have some trade chips that might interest people. Roddy Beaubois has about worn out his welcome here, as has Lamar Odom, and teams might like each for different reasons. If the Mavs could get a center, they could also trade Ian Mahimni, who has shown flashes of potential that could intrigue an up and coming team. It could happen. But I don't think it will.

Here's the thing. If the Mavs need a center, a great candidate would be Tyson Chandler. If they need a penetrator, perhaps JJ Barea would fit the bill, or Caron Butler if they wanted a second scorer. If it's youth and athleticism they need, perhaps a guy like Corey Brewer, a bundle of both, and positive energy, and length, who was once the best player on a college team including Al Horford and Joakim Noah.

They took a calculated gamble not to have all those things, so they could have something else.

Do you really think they're now going to try to have half-as-good versions of those things, ruining their chance at that something else in the process? If someone gets a buyout, say Chris Kaman, and is willing to play just the rest of the year to prove their worth, maybe. It worked with Peja last year, it could work again this year. I'm sure it's killing Cuban and Donnie to struggle this much, I just know it's not killing them enough to spend next year's cap space.

And that goes for the Shawn Marion contract too, which will have to be traded to clear cap space for the Mavericks' biggest dreams. Since they can't get anything back for it that they have to pay, or else what's the point in trading it in the first place, there is no reason for them to trade it now, and hurt the team significantly, rather than in the offseason when they don't need his defense. And if you think the Mavs defense looks like a mad scramble now ...

It's true that I could be wrong about all this. I have been wrong about things before, when I haven't spent sufficient time with my magic 8 ball beforehand, or stared into the ashes of a just-spent fire, singing the ancient songs. The next four days will show, one way or the other, of course.

But the smart money says the cavalry isn't coming. The Dallas Mavericks are who they are now, and will have to find a way to make it work.

For more of Andy Tobo's coverage of the Mavericks, head over to Mavs Moneyball, a one-stop shop for the latest news and notes on the interwebs about the defending NBA champions.

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