Dallas Mavericks Roster Moves

The Dallas Mavericks won the NBA Championship last year after years of coming up just short. The roster wasn’t hugely different from years past, but there were a few key players that seemed to be the X-Factor/lynchpin that pushed them over the top. Who were those players? JJ Barea and Tyson Chandler. Barea gave everyone fits throughout the playoffs and especially caused the Miami Heat all sorts of match-up problems in the Finals. Tyson Chandler revitalized his career after the World Championships and absolutely controlled the paint on both ends for the Mavs.

Fast forward six months, and the Mavs are just about to start their first season as defending champs. You’d think they’d battle to bring back that same roster with as few changes as possible with the hope of repeating. On the contrary. The Mavs let Chandler, Barea, and Caron Butler walk away without much of a fight (Chandler to the Knicks, Barea to the T-Wolves, Butler to the Clips….) and then they proceeded to go out and acquire three players that make very little sense with this team….Vince Carter, Delonte West, and Lamar Odom.

Carter is DONE, West has more baggage than maybe any player in the league (please always remember that this is the man that was carrying a shotgun in a violin case while riding his motorcycle around town…maybe the best NBA arrest story of all time), and I’m not quite sure what role Odom plays on this team. Vince Carter isn’t going to work hard off the court and is going to give you basically nothing on the defensive end. Can you play Delonte West and Jason Terry at the same time? Is Delonte going to be the backup point guard for Kidd? Are Odom and Dirk going to be able to share the ball when their style of play is so comparable? Does Odom play the three or the four? Can you have Odom, Dirk, and Haywood on the floor together? And what happens to the chemistry of this locker room? Everyone knows that one of the main reasons why this team won the title last year is because they were more tightly knit than the Heat, so swap out three great locker room guys for a has-been that isn’t going to positively motivate a single player on the team, a dude that may or may not have spent some time with another player’s mother (yeah, I went there), and lastly a guy that just demanded a trade from his team because his feelings were hurt.

This mash-up of veterans may be the right move for a shortened season, but from what I can tell, the Mavs have just gone away from exactly what pushed them to the top of the mountain.

The Chris Paul Trade Disaster

Chris Paul was traded to the Lakers, and then he wasn’t, and now he might be again.  In an odd chain of events yesterday, Chris Paul, of the New Orleans Hornets, was traded to the LA Lakers in a three team deal.  The deal was constituted as follows:

Lakers get – Chris Paul
Rockets get – Pau Gasol
Hornets get – Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Lamar Odom, Goran Dragic, and a first round pick from the New York Knicks

When the trade was announced, many of the other owners in the league were in an uproar because another big market team was acquiring a big-name player that forced himself out of a small market team. (please see Dan Gilbert’s email for reference – http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/7335431/text-dan-gilbert-email-david-stern) David Stern obviously felt the pressure from the owners in the league (remember, the Hornets are owned by the league itself…which means each owner in the league actually owns a fractional portion of the team) to not let this trade go through because the Lakers were getting Paul, and were saving a ton of money in the process. In retrospect, the Hornets made off like bandits, possibly receiving a better trade than the Utah Jazz in their trade with the New Jersey Nets last season involving Deron Williams. Luis Scola – very solid big man in the league, Kevin Martin – averaged 25 per night last season for Houston, Lamar Odom – 6th man of the year last season for the Lakers, Goran Dragic – playoff tested point guard, and a first round pick…and the Lakers got a perennial all-star with bad knees in return. Is Chris Paul one of the absolute best players in the league? Yes. Is it a huge gamble for them to trade away Gasol and Odom leaving Andrew Bynum to fill the lane on his own hoping that Paul and Kobe can figure out a way to share the ball? Absolutely.  Could the addition of Paul add a new dynamic to Kobe and Bynum’s game to push them back into the title picture?  Absolutely, again.  (Think about the Paul and Kobe chemistry thing…this very well could create a similar problem to the Lebron and D. Wade offensive issues of last year. You would have two guys that love to have the ball in their hands and run the offense through them. With them on the floor together, Kobe would have to become more of an off-the-ball player, which could become and absolute disaster.)

The backlash from the media and the rest of the league has been vicious and loud. Many feel like this is as ugly a situation as the Tim Donaghy “game-fixing” scandal of a few years ago. I wouldn’t go that far, but vetoing a trade without really clear grounds to do so and a possible conflict of interest stinks of conspiracy. Supposedly the three teams are back at it trying to come up with another possible scenario to push through a deal, or they may just take legal action against the league to accomplish the same task. In the end, this deal is probably going to go through in one way or the other. The big question is, how long is it going to take.

Image: http://fullcourtpumps.com/2011/12/chris-paul-is-officialy-a-laker-joins-kobe-bryant-in-los-angeles/

(for a longer article and great read on the topic: http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7334835/the-sixth-day-nba-christmas)