DALLAS - "Luka needs help.'' ... Mavs Trade Donuts aims to please ...
DONUT 1: HELP! I NEED SOMEBODY DallasBasketball.com's Dalton Trigg wrote the other day about Luka Doncic "needing help,'' and while the return of Kristaps Porzingis certainly qualifies (coach Rick Carlisle calling KP "a franchise player'') and while all the guys now coming out of sick bay qualify ...
Luka needs help.
"Help,'' that is, if the Dallas Mavericks are going to achieve their stated goal of contending for an NBA title this year.
DONUT 2: CUBAN'S HISTORY OF PATIENCE We have over the years heard critics of owner Mark Cuban contend that Dirk Nowitzki's years were "wasted.'' Those critics forget the 11 straight 50-win seasons and the rosters good enough to catapult from there into a pair of NBA Finals.
"Waste''? Meaning Cuban, Donnie Nelson and Nellie/Avery/Carlisle weren't trying to do more? Ridiculous.
What Cuban did do, as a matter of habit - in combination with Donnie's "We Love Our Boys In Blue'' mindset - is demonstrate patience with early-season rosters, waiting for them to gel, believing they would gel.
Maybe that is a policy worth re-examining.
DONUT 3: LUKA'S WINDOW The Luka Doncic "Window of Contention'' figures to be a long and wide one. But ...
Why wait? Why "go for it'' later? If the Mavs-led Luka are almost good enough to get up and over the top now ... why shouldn't Dallas shoot its shot at negating the "almost''?
Along those lines ... Let's examine a few trade-target names ... with details.
DONUT 4: THE BEAL APPEAL The Mavs love Bradley Beal. So do the other 29 teams ... and we're still waiting for him to fall out of love with his present employer, the Washington Wizards.
If he ever does? In talking with big NBA brains, we simply cannot create a Mavs trade that brings Beal here without sending Porzingis out.
READ MORE: How Can The Mavs Get Bradley Beal To Dallas?
There is no way of knowing whether Dallas would do such a thing. There is only theory, two-fold: First, the idea of adding Beal in exchange for KP makes Dallas better (Beal is "better'' than Porzingis). But maybe just incrementally. Second, if a "superteam'' is the goal (and it is), swapping out one "cornerstone'' for another really doesn't accelerate, by much, Dallas' title chances.
Beal-to-Dallas seems too pipe-dreamy. Even for me.
DONUT 5: VICTORIOUS? Victor Oladipo is now telling the Houston media that maybe he'll give the Rockets a chance to keep him, even as he approaches summer free agency. Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes:
“If things work out, if I’m happy,” Oladipo said. “Essentially, it’s like a business plan. You have to go through every aspect of the business plan, kind of figure out if you want to invest in it.”
That's not much of an endorsement of Houston. But it's something short of, "James Harden was right.'' So the Rockets will take it ...
But would Dallas take Oladipo?
DONUT 6: BEHIND-THE-SCENES The Rockets could see the light on Oladipo, realize he's leaving, and shop him.
This is where Dallas' "shoot your shot'' comes in.
The Mavs' behind-the-scenes work in these matters is top-notch. Example: When they traded for Porzingis, there was no guarantee that he would, the following summer, sign the $158 million deal to stay. He didn't have to ...
And yet the Porzingis family's long association with some of the people who help run the Mavs (the origin of our scoop of Dallas making a trade offer to the Knicks in June 2017, two years before it finally happened) created near-assurance that he would indeed be happy here.
Could Dallas find that same sort of near-assurance with Oladipo?
DONUT 7: BUY INSURANCE Dallas has another solid habit in these matters.
Going all the way back to the ill-fated Rajon Rondo trade, Donnie has done well to grab an insurance policy in the deal. Rondo was so awful here that we've jokingly referred to that swap as "the Dwight Powell trade.'' Powell was a "throw-in.'' But Donnie wanted him.
Maybe it's revisionist history, but some Mavs people swear they did the same in the KP trade. Tim Hardaway Jr. was "contractual ballast,'' DBcom wrote at the time. I still believe that ... but I also believe that just in terms of a personnel evaluation, Dallas liked Hardaway.
DONUT 8: EVALUATING OLADIPO I do think the Mavs have the ammunition to trade for him, but before we go there: Is he a true and clear upgrade to Josh Richardson? Would he obviously leap-frog over Richardson? Is he substantially better, in terms of overall fit, than even Hardaway?
I think the answers to those questions is "yes.'' But I cannot say that Oladipo, this year, has exactly proven that.
Let's go with the "yes.''
DONUT 9: TRADE PROPOSALS Trigg tries it this way:
Mavericks receive: Victor Oladipo
Rockets receive: Tim Hardaway Jr., Jalen Brunson and a heavily protected 2025 first-round pick that would likely turn into two second-round picks
I might suggest Dallas drive a harder bargain here - because if Oladipo plans on walking from Houston, the Rockets might be forced to salvage the whole series of transactions at a lesser price.
James Johnson, straight up, is a trade match. Why give up Hardaway for Oladipo when, at least early in the offering, you can end up with both? And if Houston ends up dealing P.J. Tucker, as is rumored, Johnson slips nicely into his slot in their rotation.
Now, what about Dallas' "insurance''?
I suspect Dallas would want a piece back, just in case Oladipo walks. Just like Powell from the Celtics. Just like Hardaway from the Knicks.
Houston just got Dante Exum in the huge Harden trade flurry. ... and he's free this summer. I could see the Rockets being interested in Jalen Brunson to replace the parting Exum. I could see rookie Josh Green being attractive to Houston as well. Maybe something like ...
Mavericks receive: Victor Oladipo and Rodions Kurucs
Rockets receive: James Johnson, Josh Green and Jalen Brunson
Aren't the Mavs a better team for doing this? Wouldn't this be "shooting your shot''?
DONUT 10: P.J. TUCKER? Let's take another spin with Houston. Tucker is said to be on the trading block. I think there will be many suitors for an outstanding defender who, at 35, still does the dirty work. Can Dallas create a trade match? Easily. Trey Burke plus Wes Iwundu is among the many combos that does it.
What's the problem? I think Houston will want picks.
Look at the James Harden trade, where, as rumor has it, Houston could've received Jarrett Allen in the swap but instead preferred a second-round pick.
Dallas is not in the best spot when it comes to trading first-round picks.
DONUT 11: BIG OR SMALL? Small? We address the rumor of Lonzo Ball jumping from the Pels to the Mavs here, suggesting it's a better idea once he's RFA in the summer than it is now.
Big? I'm going to the well on Andre Drummond, one more time.
We were originally kicking around the idea of Drummond and Kevin Porter Jr., the latter player falling way out of favor in Cleveland. The Cavs, however, dumped their Porter problem in a trade with Houston.
And Drummond? I know, I know. Every time I toss the idea out there, y'all kill me more it. But would the Mavs be better if they traded Powell, Johnson and rookie Josh Green for Drummond and another body?
I can already hear you screaming about not wanting to give up Green. OK. Just spit-ballin' on that one.
DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD The Mavs, I predicted before the season, would end the year with a "top-five roster'' in the NBA. Given that they are presently floating around .500, I don't look correct.
I still predict Dallas will swing a deal at the NBA trade deadline on March 25, but I recognize it might be biased thinking on my part, believing as I do that for a Luka-led team, patience is not really a virtue.