Mark Cuban Says He's Ready To Spend Some Money on These Mavericks. How Should He Do It?
Three wins in a row and the “Bank of Cuban” is now open? Well, that is certainly good news.
Over the weekend, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban stated that there is a 100 percent chance that Dallas will attempt to make a move before the NBA trade deadline on Thursday, February 21. So buck up, fans who feel that the Mavs must do something soon if they're to salvage any attempts at making the playoffs for a thirteenth consecutive season.
One problem: What — or, better yet, who — Dallas can even acquire to help their faltering season?
Dallas has always been relatively quiet about making moves. You're not likely to find Chris Broussard citing “sources” about potential deals the team is working toward on Twitter. When the Mavericks made their blockbuster trade for Jason Kidd just before the deadline in 2008, nary a word was leaked before the move was actually made. It was known, though, that the team was going to pursue him after an initial deal to acquire Kidd fell through because Devean George refused to sign off on being traded.
But, as recently as this past summer, the Mavs, who needed to fill their roster during the offseason, were mum even about their decision to trade Ian Mahinmi (he of #MahinmiSwag) to the Indiana Pacers for Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones.
The bottom line? Any news about who the Mavs want to trade for will be entirely speculative until a deal is submitted for league approval.
Still, let's speculate!
At the forefront of most current speculation about who the Mavs might be interested in is Kings center DeMarcus Cousins. This season, Cousins has averaged 20.4 points and 11.9 rebounds per 36 minutes. These numbers, on the surface, are of course an upgrade over the team's current center, Chris Kaman, who is averaging 18.9 points and 9.3 rebounds per 36.
Where Kaman has the upper hand, though, is in his shooting percentages. He is shooting 50.5 percent from the floor while Cousins connects at a clip of just 43.2 percent. This is due to Cousins taking just 43 percent of his shot attempts (or 6.1 shots per game) at the rim. The rest of his shots come from beyond three feet, with a remarkable number (4.3) coming from 16 to 23 feet, where he shoots an appalling 28 percent as opposed to his 62.4 percent at the rim. Cousins is simply not an able outside scorer. Conversely, Kaman shoots his lowest percentage, 42.7, from 10 to 15 feet. None of his other shooting percentages dip below 50.
But those willing to take a shot on the sometimes-volatile Cousins need to also consider the recent developments surrounding the Kings. This is a team in a state of limbo; it has been for the past couple of years, as the Maloof family, who own the Kings, have been trying to find a buyer for the team. The Maloofs, who don't need to do much to appear inept in business and in dress, are essentially financially insolvent at this point, having lost millions of their family fortune by making bad investments in The Palms resort in Las Vegas, which they own. Selling the team would alleviate much of their financial burden — and they seem to have found a buyer willing to overpay for their struggling franchise. A group headed by Steve Ballmer and Chris Hansen want to buy the team and relocate it to Seattle. (I discussed this news at length here). It is likely, though, that, if the Kings are to relocate, Cousins would move with the team either as a building block or as potential trade bait. Any deal for him this season seems unlikely with all of the mitigating circumstances.
But back to the Mavs: It's been a while since Dallas rattled off three wins in a row. Last week, I wrote that the Mavericks had been playing better of late, but that they just could not find that closing instinct to put teams away late in games. This was the case against the Los Angeles Clippers last Wednesday, too.
Since then, though, the Mavs have victories against the Kings (in overtime, thus breaking their NBA record-tying 10 consecutive losses in overtime), the Memphis Grizzlies and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
During this win streak, Elton Brand, who has kicked his December funk, has been playing well. He as pulled down 18.26 percent of the Mavs' total rebounds during this time, helping to tip the rebounding scales in favor of Dallas against the Kings and Grizzlies. He also scored 20 points against the Wolves, his highest output of the season.
The games against the Grizzlies and the Timberwolves do come with a caveat, however. Both of those teams were on the second night of a back-to-back on the road, with the Wolves also missing all-star Kevin Love, who is out with a broken hand. And Memphis, it seemed, was willing to throw in the towel early as the Mavericks ran their offense beautifully and forced the Grizzlies into contested, long shots.
I was at this Grizzlies game. It was quite enjoyable. It also afforded me the chance to watch Hamed Haddadi play and use my deft alliteration abilities to link his name with a Slick Rick song. (Actually, that cleverness should be attributed to @cardboardgerald, who tweeted it months ago. But it's worth repeating when the opportunity presents itself and you're a few beers deep at a blowout.)
Unfortunately, Dallas' current success may be short-lived. This week, they enter another difficult stretch in the schedule. The Mavericks face the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday. Both games are in Dallas, but, still, those are good teams.
Looking farther out, nine of the Mavs' next 12 opponents have winning records.
But, with any luck, this three-game spurt and continued solid play will have the Mavs looking respectable as they trod through this stretch of season.
If they continue to falter, though, just remember: Cuban has very deep pockets. And he really hates losing.
Photo via the NBA's official Mavericks page.