The Dallas Mavericks are in the middle of a very disappointing season, holding a 23-29 record and sitting four and a half games behind the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. It seems unlikely that the Mavs would be buyers at the deadline, but you never know what will happen with Mark Cuban at the helm.
With Dirk Nowitzki on the downside of his career, the Mavs have long been looking at the summer of 2013 as a way to get another star to Dallas to make a final run before Nowitzki retires. They currently only have about $29 million in guaranteed contracts heading into next year, although that could go up depending on what happens with players like Shawn Marion and O.J. Mayo. Still, the Mavs are set up to have quite a bit of cap space as they look to be major players in free agency.
Of course, Dallas could get antsy and look to make a big move at the deadline rather than risk waiting until the summer. There are several big names on the market that the Mavs could make a push for, but the problem may be putting together an attractive enough package to get the deal done.
Players linked to Mavs
Last week, ESPN's Marc Stein reported that the Mavs were interested in embattled Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings. The talented but inconsistent Jennings is set to become a restricted free agent this offseason, and will likely be looking for a max contract. There have been reports that Jennings is unhappy in Milwaukee, so he could be on the block.
For more thoughts on the Jennings rumors, check out Mavs Moneyball
Josh Smith's name has been thrown out there by several different people, including CBS Sports' Ken Berger. It appears there have not been any serious talks between the Mavs and Atlanta Hawks yet about Smith, but both men speculate Dallas could get involved.
Dwight Howard has been on the Mavs' radar for a while, but there's little chance they would be able to acquire him before the deadline. Mark Travis of the Corpus Christi Caller Times believes that perhaps making a move for Jennings may help entice Howard to leave Los Angeles and sign with Dallas in the offseason.
Who could be moved?
The Mavs have a ton of expiring contracts, with Chris Kaman's $8 million deal being the largest one. Both Darren Collison and Rodrigue Beaubois are set to become restricted free agents, so one of those guys could go, especially if there's a deal for Jennings.
Marion is a possible trade chip, as he's set to earn $8.6 million this year and $9.3 million next year given he does not exercise his early termination option. Vince Carter is another candidate to get dealt, although Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle recently said he does not envision either of those players getting moved.
Never count out Cuban
What seems most likely to happen is that the Mavs will stand pat at the deadline and take their chances with free agency. Cuban has downplayed the few rumors out there, and although Dallas has all those tradable contracts, they still might not be enough for a major deal. However, never put anything past Mark Cuban. If he decides there's something that he wants done, he will try as hard as he can to get it done.