Really? The Mavericks Almost Traded For Paul Pierce? Why?
Yes, solid play has helped Dallas do the practically unthinkable: Out of nowhere, this team's won four games in a row, believe it or not. At this point, maybe Mike Rawlings should prepare the city for a ticker-tape parade?
Seriously, it's been a nice run, and watching this team step up in the absence of the always stylish Shawn Marion, who has missed three games with a bruised calf, has been encouraging. Jae Crowder has done particularly well in his role as Marion's replacement in the starting lineup, averaging just over seven points and better than four assists, and even collecting eight rebounds against the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night. And not only has Crowder played well, but Brandan Wright appears to be out of Rick Carlisleâ€™s doghouse. He's been seeing a significant amount of playing time of late, too.
But the player carrying Dallas has been Vince Carter. He just can't seem to miss from behind the three-point arc right now.
Still, despite this impressive play, the big story of the week was one that that broke just before the weekend when Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports revealed that the Mavericks almost traded for Paul Pierce at the trade deadline back in February. Reports Wojnarowski, that deal would have been a three-team swap, with Atlanta sending Josh Smith to Boston, Pierce coming to Dallas, and Dallas sending Crowder, Wright and Dahntay Jones to Atlanta. The deal fell apart when the Celtics refused to give up a draft pick.
So: Paul Pierce was almost a Maverick. Interesting.
But what does that say about the thinking of Dallas' front office? Pierce has the most beautifully ugly game around, and his footwork is an art form in itself, but the guy is 36 years old. This season has been a good one for Pierce — he is averaging 18.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game — but how much can he possibly have left in the tank?
If the Mavericks had acquired Pierce, it would have been as a quick-fix rental and not a long-term solution to returning to winning consistently. Sure, the prospect of Pierce and Dirk Nowitzki teaming together is a rather enticing thought for the year 2007, but is it really an ideal situation now?
The simple answer? No. Dallas would've been giving up two young players (they did end up trading Jones to Atlanta at the deadline anyway) and likely getting a worse draft pick in the deal for Pierce.
Not only that, but Pierce would add yet another player to the Mavericks roster that lives on shots that come far from the rim. This season, the majority of Pierce's shots have come from beyond 10 feet..
Dallas, though, is replete with jump shooters. The team has been for a long time. Yes, they won a title — and so did Boston — hitting jump shots. But, as I have said countless times, long two-point attempts are nobody's friends. Yeah, this shot may be the most fundamental one in all of basketball (after the layup), but, more often than not, it's the worst available shot. And the Mavericks take a lot of them. It drives me insane.
Truth is, the future for these Mavericks is a lot brighter with Paul Pierce out of the picture. For one, it would almost be sacrilegious for Pierce to play anywhere but Boston. He's spent his entire career there, just as Nowitzki, who was selected just one pick ahead of him in the 1998 NBA Draft. Moreover, renting an aging superstar for a year, is an unbelievably shortsighted stopgap measure. Plus, Dallas also has the likes of O.J. Mayo and Carter — two guys with basically Pierce's same skill set — on the roster. A team really can have too many wing jump shooters, you know.
If the Mavericks are serious about rebuilding, then they need to look at the players they currently have on their roster. Crowder has the potential to be good player for many years to come in the NBA. Losing him could prove to be rather detrimental to Dallas' future development. Meanwhile Wright, who at moments still looks a little lost on the floor, has repeatedly proven that he can contribute when needed.
These are potential building blocks. They are not stars, no. But they have their roles.
The Mavericks will likely add pieces through free agency this summer and, when they do, they need to look at young players. If they continue to try and build through the model that won them their championship, they will be left in the dust as teams like Golden State, Denver, and Houston start to flourish in the Western Conference. And, in turn, we might be growing beards for a long, long time.