I find myself more optimistic about things after this trade than I would have expected. Yes, Dallas dealt their biggest tradeable (since Roddy Beaubois isn't really "tradeable" unless you are getting something excellent) for a recently injury prone role player. On pure basketballing value, it is quite underwhelming.
But they did accomplish some positive things, particularly in conjunction with some of their recent moves.
First, their front court is now long and (aside from Dirk) pretty athletic. If you're counting along, this makes Brendan Haywood, Tyson Chandler, Dirk, Ian Mahinmi and Alexis Ajinca. They still are not athletic on the outside, but they figure to match teams like Denver a little better than when they last faced the Nuggets in the playoffs.
Second, and this is the bigger issue, look at how much more attractive their roster is now in the trade market.
For the past few years the club has moved in the wrong direction age-wise and trade asset-wise. With contracts like Jason Terry's, Jason Kidd's, Shawn Marion's, DeSagana Diop's/Matt Carroll's and Erick Dampier's, they had a lot of money tied up in guys who were not attractive via trade and in several cases weren't offering the team much on the court. They also clogged up spots on the roster with guys like Carroll and Shawne Williams.
Their series of recent moves overhauls the way the roster looks in two different ways. First, Nowitzki, Haywood and Marion are the guys who are now locked up for more than a couple of years. Marion's contract is their new mess, as he will be approaching eight figures several years from now. Aside from him, though, they have some good situations. The following guys expire after next season (with amount):
12.75 - Chandler
10.56 - Butler
4.15 - Stevenson
1.82 - Barea
That is almost $30 million in flexibility as we move through next season. They presumably won't want to lose Chandler and Butler for nothing, but aside from that, this is all positive. They also have a $5 million buyout of Jason Terry's final year, which could save them or some other team $6 million.
They hoped to hit the home run with Dampier this summer, but this amount of expiring contracts - at a time when most teams are losing money and the league could be facing a lockout - keeps some hope alive.
The other end of this is that they actually have some interesting, cheap assets again. Even when the Mavs have had good contractual assets, they have lacked the goodies to toss into deals. After sacrificing their first rounder to New Jersey this summer, they are free and clear on their first rounders. They added a first round talent, Dominique Jones, who they see as a value and a much improving asset, either for them or someone else in short order. They have added a pair of athletic bigs with some upside. And of course (in the case of a blockbuster) there's Roddy.
This team hasn't moved a whole lot closer to winning a championship in 2010-2011, but it should be better equipped to have success moving forward than it was a year ago.