We here at fantasychamp.com are life-long Mavs fans. Hence we were psyched when Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson laid down the first big trade-domino in advance of the deadline (Feb 18). The initial reaction from basketballprospectus.com and thetwomangame.com: a good move, but how good remains to be seen. Brendan Haywood is universally recognized as an upgrade over Drew Gooden: keeps the offense, but adds the defense at the backup / sub-for-when-Damp’s-injured 5-spot. Caron Butler is similarly recognized as an upgrade over Josh Howard, more due to Howard’s injury-related inconsistency. Butler’s not performing as well this year as in his ’07 and ’08 all-star-reserve seasons. But if he rebounds, this trade could come off as a steal. Kevin Pelton calls it an upgrade, but not enough to vault past the Nuggets and Jazz, while Rob Mahoney is super-excited about the upside. I see it somewhere in between: better than the Jazz, but not yet George Karl and the Nuggets, who still know how to drive the proverbial stake in the Mavs’ heart.
Finally it’s worth noting that while it’s great to be excited about the Mavs’ prospects in the 2nd-half of the season, it’s tough to see the ship sail on hoping for Josh Howard’s return to form. He’s one of the primary X-factors of the late-2000′s Mavs that both kept them competitive, and kept them out of the NBA elite. It’s somewhat sad to see him go, but that sentiment will be as fleeting as Beaubois’ development.
The Mavs trade Drew Gooden and Josh Howard for Brendan Haywood, Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and cash.
The Mavs make the trade to upgrade two key positions: backup center (Gooden, now Haywood) and starting small forward / shooting guard (Howard, now Butler). Butler’s deal is similar to Howard’s (~11M, going through next year, 2011). Haywood’s deal is simliar to Gooden’s (~4.5M), also expiring this year. The Mavs are expected to negotiate a new deal with Haywood in the off-season, perhaps viewing Haywood as a strong consolation prize for losing out on Marcin Gortat last summer. Stevenson should do nothing but ride pine and soak up trash time – his deal goes through 2011 at approx ~4.5M per.
The Wizards gain at least $15M in salary cap flexibility, putting them in position to be at least $7M under the cap in 2011. The Wizards include cash in the deal to equal-out Stevenson’s salary.