By Geoff Case
I’ve composed a list of the top targets the Mavs could be angling for not only before the trade deadline but in the offseason as well. There is going to be a lot of players with ability available and after the latest CBA it’s a whole new ballgame.
Rudy Gay – While this might not be the franchise saving move Mavs fans are so desperately craving right now, it does help them get younger with a talented player. Rudy Gay is good but he’s not Top 10 good. He’s not a franchise player but he’s right under that line. With the new CBA penalties coming soon with heavier consequence, contracts like Gay’s ($18 to $20 million per season) are simply poison that few teams can afford to swallow and survive.
Verdict: Not likely, the Mavs stance has been to maximize every dollar under the new salary cap. It would make no sense to spend max money on a player of Gay’s ability.
Editor’s note: As of this morning Rudy Gay has been traded to the Raptors as part of a 3-team deal.
Dwight Howard – This is the target that will surely get the talking heads on sports shows. If the 2011 team taught us anything, it’s that an athletic defensive center is the perfect complement to Dirk Nowitizki. The Lakers star has not signed an extension with the team and has voiced his frustrations with the management and roster. He has simply not looked like the once in a lifetime talent since he donned the Lakers uniform after back surgery last offseason. He looks stiff and slow and teams are murdering the Lakers on the inside this season.
Verdict: Absolutely, if the Mavs have a chance to sign Howard this offseason they will try to do so. Even though he hasn’t looked like the same player since the surgery, the chance that he bounces back and becomes the best center for the next decade is too much to pass up.
DeMarcus Cousins – We’ve all seen the news feeds coming out of Sacramento – Cousins’ arguments with coaches, teammates and league officials. Multiple suspensions and inconsistent effort on the court are the only reason he is available. However, this is a 22-year-old center with immense talent still on his rookie-scale contract. This is a very affordable player with the talent to be one of the top couple of players in the entire NBA who is still years from reaching his prime. The Kings would no doubt attach a few horrible contracts to Cousins (i.e. Marcus Thorton) but a team like the Mavs could roll throughout the length of those with an eye on the future.
Verdict: Yes, the Mavs and a plethora of other teams would love to take a wavier on Cousins. There is another factor in Cousins’ fate. The Kings are also dealing with a change of ownership process that likely puts all of their dealings on hold, especially as future ownership and key holdings are in some level of doubt.
My Top Target before the trade deadline:
Eric Bledsoe – Point guard is one of the biggest needs for this Mavs roster. Bledsoe is a very gifted young player who has a cheap rookie contract. In games he’s played at least 25 minutes this season, Bledsoe is averaging: 14.5 points, 4.2 assists, 2.3 steals, 1.2 blocks, 46.5 field-goal percentage, 1.3 turnovers and has a PER of 19.2 this season. The problem is that Chris Paul has yet to resign with the Clippers this season and he’s their best back-up plan if Paul walks.
Verdict: Yes, the Mavs should explore every option at point guard when it comes to trade, free agency and the draft. They simply do not have a NBA level starting point guard anywhere on the roster. While Bledsoe may be a long shot depending on Paul’s future, the Mavs need help at that position.