Wednesday’s trade rumors continued to swirl around Kevin Garnett being coveted by various teams, but the freshest rumors seem to be coming from Texas where the Mavericks and Spurs could be both be active.
Moving players at this point could make sense for both sides as the All-Star break approaches. San Antonio is a guaranteed playoff team and a likely contender for a Western Conference title, but as they look around see the opposition they’ll face in Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Clippers, it’s entirely possible that they could look to improve, particularly at the center position.
Dallas is on the cusp of letting their season go. With each passing day, the Mavericks look more and more likely to miss out on postseason play for the first time in 13 years, so it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Mark Cuban decided to cut some dead weight. Possibly the most aggressive owner in the NBA, he recently declared that the “Bank of Cuban” was open for business, so it now seems more likely than not that a shakeup will be taking place in Dallas, so let’s start there.
SHAWN MARION AND VINCE CARTER
The Mavericks are not a young team and are in need of fresh legs. While Vince Carter is a tremendous force off the bench for the Mavs and has reshaped his game with age to reflect his veteran status, he is owed just over $3 million next year and is one of the few players of value that Cuban can use as a trading chip.
Marion on the other hand has an ever diminishing value and will cost Cuban just over $9 million next season, so it’s likely the Mavs would want to cut ties with him sooner rather than later. The Mavericks are actually better statistically with Marion off the floor rather than on it, so it’s tough to see him sticking around for another season regardless of what happens before the trade deadline.
The question now that we can almost safely assume that Cuban wants to part ways with the two veterans is; what do the Mavs get in return if they trade them? The best bet for Cuban at this juncture is to find a competitor like the Memphis Grizzlies who need a piece added to their puzzle. By doing this, they avoid a trade with one of the league’s teams that have lost all hope and would likely give Dallas nothing of real value in return for either portion of the duo.
Where they could go and who would be willing to take them seems questionable. Some scenarios make sense on paper, but whether or not they could actually play out is a matter for Cuban to sort. Trading Carter is the easier option and could return a decent player to back up OJ Mayo plus a second round pick maybe.
Dealing Marion is not so simple because of his salary. The Mavs would likely have to take a major risk on a young player and face the possibility of practically giving Marion away. His $9 million deal next year coupled with injury troubles doesn’t make him very valuable and he has never been a great defender. At 34-years old, his numbers on offense are in decline and his value is ever decreasing. The best thing for Cuban to do may just be to ride out the contract with Marion. If the team had their amnesty clause still, they could use it on him, but instead that was burned on Brendan Haywood. What team will take Marion, if any, remains to be seen, but if Cuban can get him out of town for so much as an early second round draft pick and a young unproven player, that would be good.
SAN ANTONIO WANTS AL JEFFERSON
The other big rumor surfacing on Wednesday is that the San Antonio Spurs may be lining up a move to give Tim Duncan some real help in the middle. Reports have them and the Jazz in talks about making a deal that would send Tiago Splitter and a point guard (probably Patty Mills) the other way. Some believe Stephen Jackson could also be involved in the trade, but this is doubtful considering he is a solid backup for Kawhi Leonard and a guy that Gregg Popavich trusts.
Even without Jackson involved, the move would give Utah something in return on Jefferson whose $15 million contract expires this summer. They could have sufficient backup at point guard and if they get Splitter, they clear a path for one of their many up and coming big men to compete for a starting spot against the Brazilian.
The Spurs could use Jefferson’s experience and rebounding ability to help Duncan out and give Tony Parker another interior target to hit that has a mid range game, so this deal actually makes sense for all parties involved. Whether or not either pulls the trigger, we’ll just have to wait and see, especially with the Spurs doing so well in the standings, you have to wonder if they’ll rock the boat. But for a player of Jefferson’s caliber, they just might.