The good feelings surrounding the Mavericks' better-than-expected start this year went up in the air—or crumbled to the ground—when Caron Butler suffered a season-ending torn patellar tendon last Saturday.
Butler had modified his game from “over-the-hill-scorer-in-decline” to “solid glue guy.” The proof is in his plus/minus numbers. According to BasketballValue.com, the Mavericks were 7.4 points better per 100 possessions when Butler was on the court than when he wasn’t.
Shawn Marion will replace Butler in the starting lineup. He, along with Jason Terry, will no doubt see more minutes and scoring chances. Barring a trade, the Mavericks will go on as a reduced version of what they’ve been.
But knowing Mark Cuban, well, that’s just not his style. Replacing Butler will be tough, because one of the Mavericks' best trade chips was Butler himself (and his expiring contract). Adding a rotation-caliber player would also probably entail parting the tantalizing Roddy Beaubois and several draft picks.
Nevertheless, those who underestimate Mark Cuban’s ability to make a splash do so at their own risk. Here are ten players the Mavericks might target in response to Butler’s injury.
According to reports, the Mavericks have had “in-house discussions” about acquiring Iguodala. It’s not hard to wonder why: Aside from jump-shooting, Iguodala excels in every phase of the game. His acquisition would make the Mavericks a more dynamic team and open things up for Dirk Nowitzki.
As solid as Butler had become defensively, acquiring Iguodala would improve the Mavericks' defense. Currently, the Mavs are seventh in the NBA in defensive efficiency. Acquiring Iguodala might push them up to the ranks of the elite. Any lineup that includes Iguodala, Shawn Marion, and Tyson Chandler is tough to score against.
Iguodala has been slow to recover from a strained Achilles tendon. But don’t expect that to scare Cuban off.
The 76ers won’t hesitate to unload Iguodala for the right package in return. It would probably take Roddy Beaubois and a lot more to pry Iguodala, and other suitors might just have more.
Need a small forward? How’s this guy for a small forward?
Cuban has always looked to make splashes in the trade market, and this would certainly qualify. Despite the Mavericks' success this year, the 2008 Jason Kidd trade shows that the Mavericks aren’t shy pursuing star power first and worrying about fitting the pieces together second.
The Mavericks were reportedly pursuing Anthony even before Butler got hurt, but with the catch that it would only be for the duration of this year. That’s something Anthony would no doubt initially resist, but by deadline-time, who knows?
His team has faded into obscurity, but Martin’s still quietly putting up big-time scoring numbers, averaging 23.1 points per game.
The Rockets aren’t going anywhere, and Martin’s big salary hampers GM Daryl Morey’s flexibility going forward.
But there will probably be a market for Martin later in the year. Given Dallas’s dearth of tradable assets and Houston GM Daryl Morey’s presumable reluctance to trade his best scorer within the division, and this one’s not likely.
Jackson wanted to come to the Mavs while he with the Warriors last year, but he was traded to Charlotte instead. With the Bobcats having fallen apart, he might get his wish.
Jackson fits the bill as a versatile, athletic player who can run the floor and shoot threes. He has the length and savvy to be an asset on the defensive end as well.
But buyer beware: Jackson turns 33 in April, and his player efficiency rating of 14.29 is the lowest it’s been since 2006. He’s also in the first year of a three year, $28 million contract.
It’s been a rough year for Mayo, who has seen his numbers decline across the board while “earning” a seat on the bench.
He was once considered a cornerstone of the Grizzlies’ future, but that’s probably not the case anymore. Not helping his reputation was his recent fight on the team airplane with teammate Tony Allen over money Mayo owed from a card game.
The Grizzlies might feel that his stock is as high as it’s ever going to be. Don’t be shocked if he gets dealt somewhere.
The Mavericks were interested in Wallace several years ago, but lost out in the bidding to the Bobcats. Now, the Bobcats are unloading their assets, so this might be a possibility.
Wallace’s numbers are slightly down this year, but that says more about the malaise around him in Charlotte than the guy himself. He is 28 and is in his prime as a good all-around contributor.
Wallace would particularly help the Mavericks in rebounding, as they rank 17th in rebounding efficiency. Wallace averaged more than 10 rebounds per game last year and is averaging 8.2 this year.
Casspi is appealing for his $1.3 salary. This fits into the $4.3 and $3 million trade exceptions the Mavericks have until July.
Casspi would slot in perfectly at small forward. He is an excellent three-point shooter and plays a hard-nosed game. He would give the Mavericks a nastiness in tough playoff series.
He’s much more effective than his conventional stats—8.9 ppg, 3.9 rebounds—would suggest. This year, his player efficiency rating is 13.33.
Of course, prying Casspi away from the Kings would be difficult, especially because of his fond place in the hearts of the Maloof brothers. Good players at bargain-basement prices don’t grow on trees.
As unexciting an acquisition as a name.
But Walker, though he’s not a household name, can play a little. Before the season started, Basketball Prospectus projected him to have a better season than the soon-to-be-very-rich Wilson Chandler.
Walker shot 43 percent from three-point range last year, and defends and rebounds well enough. But he fell into Mike D’Antoni’s doghouse when he showed up to training camp 25 pounds heavier than he was last year, and hasn’t played much of a role in the Knicks' resurgence.
With Kelenna Azubuike expected back relatively soon, Walker is expendable.
Is it worth a Hail Mary that Posey’s once stifling defense will return from a two-year hiatus? Is Posey’s clutch playoff shooting worth the bet that he’ll reverse a steep decline at age 33? Are his 19.8 minutes per game not a sign that he’s seriously getting up there, but rather an indication that he’ll he’ll have fresh legs if he comes to Dallas in a trade?
Is he worth the $6.5 million he’s owed this year and the $6.925 he’s owed next year?
Not likely, but the Mavericks may feel differently.
This is probably the most likely scenario.
Shawn Marion will try to channel his D’Antoni-ball days. Jason Terry will shoot more. Roddy Beaubois will get an honest-to-goodness chance to make a big contribution when he comes back from injury. DeShawn Stevenson will see an increase in minutes. Dominique Jones will get a shot after recently being called up from the D-League.
This might be in the best long-term interests of the organization. But that won’t make Mark Cuban or Mavericks fans any less uneasy about playing out the rest of the season without Butler.