There is a conventional connection between Dirk Nowitzki and Paul Pierce that is the result of both of them being available in the same 1998 NBA Draft ... and then an ensuing debate about who would be better ... and then who was better.
For our money, of course, that latter issue is no debate at all.
But Pierce, as a member of the Boston Celtics, was a fine player. He was a champion. And now, Mavs owner Mark Cuban reveals, he was almost a Mav.
During an appearance on “Heavy Live with Scoop B Show,” the Mavs boss says that in 2013, his franchise engineered an almost-trade to acquire Pierce, the 10-time All-Star who would end up, like Dirk, playing forever in the NBA.
Dirk was 21 seasons.
Pierce was 19 seasons.
So why didn't the 2013 season feature both of them in a Dallas uniform?
The Mavs were trying to give The Dirk Era one more push - and by the way, Nowitzki was still by that time a 17-points-per weapon who led Dallas back into the NBA Playoffs two seasons following the title. Pierce played that season with Brooklyn and scored 13.5 per; that would've helped here.
But the three-way trade proposal hinged on an OK from the Atlanta Hawks (involving more players, of course, that Cuban did not mention) - and the Hawks backed out when they learned that an Eastern Conference power in the Celtics was involved.
“We were (close) and Atlanta killed it,” Cuban said. “We had a three-way deal done with the Mavs, Celtics, and Atlanta. (But) when Atlanta saw the other team - because you really don’t tell the other team (about) the third team, you just say, 'We’re moving a player'' - they killed it.”
Dallas that year would have featured a pair of 35-year-olds in Dirk and Pierce (who instead was sent from Boston to Brooklyn in a windfall that included three first round picks going to the Celtics).
It's worth noting that the category of "NBA Trades Not Made'' is a long one, with plenty of storytelling fodder. But Dirk and Pierce together? It might have been a successful pairing. But it definitely would have been a compelling one.