Dallas Mavericks Trade: Could Carmelo Anthony Replace the Injured Caron Butler?

Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2011

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 07:  Carmelo Anthony #15 of the Denver Nuggets watches on against the Charlotte Bobcats during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on December 7, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks have been hit hard by injuries lately.  Dirk Nowitzki has missed the team's last three games with a sprained knee, Shawn Marion didn't play last night because of a bum thigh and Rodrigue Beaubois hasn't played a single game this year.

As if all that isn't bad enough, now the Mavericks may be without Caron Butler for the rest of the year.  He went down last night against the Milwaukee Bucks, and now we're hearing reports from Dallas saying that Butler's patellar tendon is torn.

No word yet on whether the tear is complete or partial, but if it is a complete tear, Butler will definitely be done for the remainder of the season.

Even if Butler is unable to play another game this year, some teams may be interested in acquiring the rights to his expiring contract.

One team that could be interested? The Denver Nuggets.  It is clear that Carmelo doesn't envision any kind of future for himself in the Rocky Mountains.  So at this point, Denver needs to look for which team can offer the best return for their superstar small forward.

New York and New Jersey can both offer some solid players, but neither wants to meet Denver's outrageous demand for five future first-round draft picks.  They're both young teams that want to add some players through the draft over the next couple years.

Dallas has an owner in Mark Cuban who is willing to go all-in for a player like Melo.  Dallas won't give up five picks for him (no one will), but they'll be willing to give up more than New Jersey or New York.

As for players Dallas would have to part ways with, Rodrigue Beaubois would certainly have to be a part of the deal.  He has an unbelievable amount of potential as a combo guard, and could be a legitimate superstar in a year or two.

They could also give up DeShawn Stevenson and his expiring contract in addition to the expiring contract of the injured Caron Butler.  This would help Denver get a real rebuilding effort started this offseason.

Stevenson and Butler's combined salaries total around $15 million.  Denver's Kenyon Martin is also on an expiring deal and he's making almost $17 million.  They have a few other players whose contracts run out at the end of this season, and all told, they'll have about $40 million coming off the books.

As for Dallas, taking on Melo without a commitment from him that he'd re-sign, would be a huge risk.  Mark Cuban would be banking on the fact that Anthony would love playing for one of the best players' owners in the league.

In the short-term, a lineup of Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler would definitely be one of the west's very best.

The Mavericks have already been playing great this year, but it's become painfully clear since Dirk went down that they need another scorer.  

Melo could be exactly what they need.