Grading the Dallas Mavericks' Trade Deadline Performance

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Grading the Dallas Mavericks' Trade Deadline Performance
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The NBA trade deadline came and went earlier today, as teams from across the league made their last-ditch efforts to better their team this season. While there were a few significant deals that went down, like J.J. Redick heading to Milwaukee and Jordan Crawford going from Washington to Boston, overall it was a dud of a trade deadline that saw no huge names get moved.

While Josh Smith, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, Rajon Rondo, DeMarcus Cousins and other stars were at one point or another rumored to be on the block, none of them were traded, and all will remain with their current teams for at least the remainder of this season.

The Dallas Mavericks were largely expected to make at least some kind of move before the deadline went down.

Dallas is sitting at five games under .500 and four-and-a-half games out of the eighth spot in the West. They have only four players on their roster who are under contract for next season, and two of them are rookies. 

The Mavericks could have been big buyers and gone after a star to play alongside Dirk Nowitzki and O.J. Mayo, giving the Mavs their own big three moving forward. They could have made at least one significant move to bolster their team this year and stride towards the playoffs even if they didn't land a superstar.

On the other hand, they likely had many players who were attractive to other teams because of their expiring contracts and veteran status. Contending teams definitely could have used guys like Chris Kaman, Vince Carter or Shawn Marion (who has two years still on his deal) for a playoff run this season.

However, the Mavericks instead did practically nothing.

They weren't totally quiet, as they did acquire backup guard Anthony Morrow from the Hawks in exchange for Dahntay Jones.

Morrow does have a set of skills that Dallas can use. He is a deadly three-point shooter, who has averaged as many as 13.2 points per game in his NBA career (in 2010-11 with New Jersey).

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Even as his playing time has decreased, he still is shooting near 40 percent from beyond the arc and from the field as well in 2012-13. Morrow has proven that given the right amount of playing time, he can be an effective NBA scorer. 

With Morrow joining Vince Carter, Dallas now has a dynamic offensive backcourt on their bench which will help their already steady offense.

The problem is, as good of a shooter and scorer as Morrow can potentially be, he still is just a reserve guard that is averaging just over five points a game, and acquiring him doesn't really push the Mavericks that much closer to the playoffs. 

Dallas failed to address their biggest needs for this season: rebounding, defense and point guard play.

In terms of the latter, Darren Collison has been playing much better of late for the Mavericks, but there are still many questions from within the organization about whether or not he has the capability to be Dallas' point guard for the long haul.

On the bench, Mike James and Rodrigue Beaubois have done little to challenge Collison, and Dallas has been in desperate need of a solid backup all year long. By failing to acquire one at the trade deadline, the Mavericks will put all the pressure on Collison to play his best the rest of the season, as well as Rick Carlisle to try and get quality performances out of disappointing bench players.

In terms of defense and rebounding, not acquiring a big man who could help the Mavericks out is inexcusable. Dallas didn't need to go get Dwight Howard to improve their defense. There were plenty of big men available that are defensive players. 

Chris Kaman, Dirk Nowitzki and Brandan Wright are the worst rebounding and defensive combination of bigs in the league. While they are great offensively, Dallas' lack of interior defense has been a huge reason why they have failed to make up any significant ground in the standings. 

Not acquiring a big man who can be a force inside on defense, even if that player was a backup, will end up coming back to haunt the Mavericks when they are on the outside looking in come playoff time.

Also, Dallas shockingly didn't move any of their players (other than Dahntay Jones) who were on one- year contracts. You had to think they were fielding at least some calls for Carter, Kaman and others. If the Mavericks weren't going to make a push for a playoff spot this season, then why didn't they at least attempt to get some draft picks or young pieces for some of their veterans?

Shawn Marion isn't one of the Mavericks on a one-year contract, which actually makes it even more surprising that he wasn't traded. Dallas may believe that Marion can still be an effective player. If Dallas gets enough pieces this offseason to build a title contender, maybe holding on to Marion will be the right move.

However, Marion's $9 million contract will make it even more difficult for Dallas to go out and acquire those players that would put them in the title picture.

If the Mavericks want to re-sign O.J. Mayo, who is going to warrant a hefty price tag, and go sign Dwight Howard or some other superstar, all to go along with the $22 million-plus they will be paying Dirk Nowitzki, that is going to be pretty difficult as it is. When you throw in Marion's extra $9 million, it makes it nearly impossible for them to have three stars on their team next season.

Basically by doing practically nothing (with all due respect to Morrow), the Mavericks didn't improve their team in the present or the future. 

Dallas instead will play out the rest of this season with the same roster who has failed to meet expectations at this point, and at best will barely sneak into the playoffs where they will have to face off against much more talented teams that will pick them apart. 

In the offseason they will try their luck at bringing a superstar over in free agency, and if that fails they may very well go the route of signing seven or eight one-year contracts again hoping for better results than this season has produced. 

Morrow will help improve the team on offense, but overall the 2013 trade deadline was a big missed opportunity for a franchise looking to make up for the mistakes they have made in the last year and a half.

Grade: D

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