The Dallas Mavericks, in the mix out West after taking the 2011 NBA Championship, might just be content to sit on their hands at the 2012 NBA Trade Deadline. It's not that the Mavericks have no need for improvement -- they have lots of room for improvement. But the most desired path to that improvement could very well be found in July, not March.
NEEDS & TARGETS
Jason Kidd is very close to retirement, Rodrigue Beaubois has underwhelmed, Jason Terry remains Jason Terry and ... the Mavericks need a legit point guard for the future. While Beaubois is just 23, Dirk Nowitzki isn't getting younger and Dallas can't wait for development at this point. The Mavericks also aren't getting what they need at center, and the bench unit hasn't been as strong as hoped.
But the point guard Dallas allegedly seeks is Deron Williams, who will be a free agent at season's close. The center that the Mavericks want is allegedly Dwight Howard, who will be a free agent at season's close. To get both, the Mavericks need to lose Lamar Odom and Shawn Marion and possibly use the amnesty clause on someone like Brendan Haywood. But ESPN's Marc Stein reports that the Mavericks will not trade Marion for cap space during the season; if the pieces come together in July, Dallas will work on freeing up the space then.
Odom's a different story because he's struggled so much. Dallas said it will not buy him out so that he can regroup and either retire or attempt to come back with his head right next season, but you have to imagine that the Mavericks would consider trading him for some short-term help at a need position. Beaubois might also finally be available, and rumors have suggested that the Mavericks may be willing to make a play for a Steve Nash reunion rental.
SALARY CAP SITUATION
The Mavericks have a salary of $74 million, according to ShamSports.com, putting them over the luxury tax threshold by just under $5 million. While in theory that could allow the Mavs to go under the tax for the first time in a decade, that will actually be difficult in practice: Dallas doesn't have any expiring contracts large enough to offload to get under, other than Terry ($11 million) and Kidd ($10 million). Something tells me Dallas won't be willing to pawn either of those guys off without value in return; it's hard to see anyone sends $5 million worth of good assets back for either on a rental.