Two possible outcomes of Round 1: a) The Mavericks mount a stirring comeback, take the series against the Warriors, and ride a wave of momentum into the later rounds, or b) Golden State closes this out and the backlash begins in full.
This post becomes effective should choice “b” become a reality. Unfortunately, it seems to be the most likely scenario.
After long discussions with my good friend Mario, I think major changes would be inevitable if the Mavericks complete their playoff disintegration. I believe that the collective failures that this group would have suffered in the past two playoffs would psychologically damage them beyond repair. I offer three possible solutions, in order of priority.
1) Work and sign-and-trade for Chauncey B-B-B-Billups. This would give Dallas a true point guard (missing since Nash left) with some major stones and the ability to score, whether via penetration or via his mechanically correct, elbow-in jump shot. He’s a good defensive player, and an excellent free throw shooter, which would make him the Mavs’ first option in crunch time. Any deal for him would have to center around Devin Harris and Erick Dampier, with flotsam and jetsam thrown in to make the salaries work. The major sticking point with this move is that the Pistons appear to be ready to move mountains to get Billups to stay.
In that case, change option 1 to a sign-and-trade for Mike Bibby. Not as pure of a point guard as Billups, but if you remember his playoff series against the Lakers and the Mavs early in these the aughts, then you know this man wants the ball late in games. At the trade deadline, he was offered to the Mavs for Devin Harris and Austin Croshere. The Mavs no longer have Croshere’s contract to dump, but why not resurrect those talks?
2) Trade Dirk Nowitzki for Kevin Garnett. According to the trade scenario I worked out at realgm.com, the Mavs would need to throw in Greg Buckner, Pops Mensah-Bonsu, Maurice Ager and Jose Juan Barea for the salaries to match. Both Nowitzki (again, assuming the worst) and Garnett could use a change of scenery. Both play power forward, so neither team would be left with a gaping hole after the trade. Both provide comparable levels of production, but Garnett would give the Mavericks a reliable post scorer that they haven’t had since whom, Mark Aguirre?
3) Do both deals, and come back with a completely different look for 2007-2008.
Assume Stackhouse and Croshere will leave via free agency, and let’s take a look at possible lineups for next year.
If Option 1 occurs:
If Option 2 occurs:
Finally, Option 3 (both trades take place)
I’ll take what’s behind door #3, even if you replace Billups with Bibby. Due to the contract of Michael Finley, Mark Cuban would have to be willing to absorb a luxury tax hit, but it would be lessened in a year when the Finley contract comes off the books. Any of these scenarios will require some major filling in at the bottom of the roster, since many of the Mavs’ current complementary pieces would have departed via free agency or trade. But since the Mavs’ depth is proving to be a non-factor in these playoffs, concentrating the majority of the team’s resources into the top 7 or 8 guys seems to be the most shrewd move.
Let’s see some good comments. Shoot holes in my theory if you want, and propose others. I’d be particularly interested to hear from anyone who argues that Dallas should stand pat.