Keeping Up With the Joneses

by

As if the Spurs’ position in the Western Conference standings and general hierarchy of the NBA wasn’t already in jeopardy with their play this season, Mark Cuban and Dan Gilbert are close to putting it on life support.

The Dallas Mavericks on Saturday completed a seven player trade with the Washington Wizards that appears to upgrade their rotation and fill some of the few holes their roster had.

The teams agreed on the principal pieces Friday: [Caron] Butler, [Brendan] Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson to Dallas for Josh Howard and Drew Gooden. Mavericks reserves Quinton Ross and James Singleton were added to the deal Saturday and are also Washington-bound, with Dallas receiving cash considerations in addition to the three players.

“It makes us significantly better,” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said.

On paper, Cuban is absolutely right. This season Josh Howard has been a shell of the dynamic wing player the Spurs regretted passing on draft night several years ago and, at times, seemed genuinely disinterested in playing for Dallas.

And while Drew Gooden played well for the Mavs this season, Butler is a tough wing who can score and play solid defense, and enables the Mavs to play small ball if they choose. Brendan Haywood is just as good, if not better, than Mavs center Erick Dampier at half the price.

Throw in DeShawn Stevenson, a defense-first wing who can knock down three-pointers, and you got yourself a heck of a mid-season trade.

However, ESPN.com’s John Hollinger is a little more reserved (Insider):

So how much better does that lofty sum make Dallas? Based on player efficiency rating, it doesn’t move the needle much. Our Trade Machine analysis is that the swap improves Dallas by only one win for the remainder of the season, largely because this season the difference in performance between Butler and Howard is much smaller than generally perceived. In fact, statistically, there’s been virtually no difference between the two players over the past four seasons, including this one, in which Butler’s numbers have been down just as sharply as Howard’s.

For the Mavs, the success of the trade might come down to the names in agate type, not the headliners. That is, Haywood and Gooden may be fairly similar in terms of PER, but look at plus-minus stats and a very different picture emerges. According to Basketballvalue.com, Dallas gives up 11.25 points per 100 possessions more with Gooden on the court, one of the worst marks in basketball. Much of that is a result of his role in the rotation — he’s either playing as an undersized center or replacing Dallas’ best player, Dirk Nowitzki — and it indicates that he’s hardly a great fit on the Mavs’ roster.

On the other hand, Haywood’s plus-minus numbers over the past half-decade have been spectacular. This season, for instance, Washington is 8.46 points per 100 possessions better with him on the court. The one cautionary flag here is that since he was the only Wizard who could defend to save his life, his impact was probably overstated. At the same time, he’s certainly a major defensive upgrade over Gooden, particularly against the types of big men that Dallas will likely have to face to get through the Western Conference playoff gauntlet.

This doesn’t do the Spurs any favors. Though San Antonio has kept pace with Dallas in the Southwest Division, just a game and a half back at the All-Star break, the team has underachieved. Coming into the season, the Spurs were projected as contenders with the Lakers in the Western Conference.

Currently, the Spurs have fallen behind both the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz in the minds of fans and analysts, and there was talk of the Spurs just being happy to be in the playoff race. An upgraded Mavericks rotation seemingly drops the Spurs lower on the Western Conference totem pole.

But the real question is whether this deal puts enough pressure on the Spurs to do something with their bevy of expiring contracts. Manu Ginobili, Roger Mason Jr., Matt Bonner, Michael Finley, Theo Ratliff, Ian Mahinmi, Keith Bogans and Malik Hairston comprise San Antonio’s collection of deals ending this season or with a team option for next year, totaling over $26 million.

These contracts arm the Spurs with the ability to do something this week in their effort to match the deals done, and to be done, before Thursday’s trade deadline.

Also not helping the Spurs out: the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are reportedly moving closer and closer to landing Amare Stoudemire, arguably the best player sitting on the trade block this season. Stoudemire, once a rumored Spurs target, has been the talk of trade season and may soon be LeBron James’ running mate:

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns are closing in on a deal that would send All-Star forward Amare Stoudemire to Cleveland, according to sources with knowledge of the negotiations.

The Cavaliers would send Zydrunas Ilgauskas and J.J. Hickson to Phoenix in exchange for Stoudemire, one of the league’s most dominant big men.

While Cleveland remains in talks with several other teams, the club, from management down to the players, has settled on Stoudemire as its first choice.

The ball is in Phoenix’s court. The Suns are mulling whether the financial relief provided by Ilgauskas’ $12 million contract and the young and talented Hickson are enough for them to part with Stoudemire.

Though anything can still happen, these deals show that the contenders are not standing pat, despite their status in the league’s standings so far. And if the Spurs don’t do something with their expiring contacts, which are central to the two deals above, the Spurs title window may close faster than expected.

  • Ted

    Anyone else think Brendan Haywood would have been a nice fit on the Spurs roster?

  • spursny

    does anyone think that Amar’e will hurt the Cavs on defense? He is somewhat lackluster in this regard.

  • Hurm66

    I think the Spurs are watching what the Wizards and Philly are doing. I think they can get Dalembert for expiring deals. He’s a better fit and player than Haywood.

    I also believe that RJ looked his very best within the Spurs system in the Nuggets game. Could they have been playing us all along and turned the corner? We’ll see.

  • Bentley

    I think Stoudemire would become a better defensive player in Cleveland. We all forget that defense isn’t exactly a strong point in Phoenix.

    And I don’t know of a trade we can make to help. We pretty much set our team around the acquisitions of McDyess and Jefferson. So, that and the fact that another trade would cause even more chemistry problems, I seldom doubt we will make a trade.

  • Robert

    The biggest difference in this trade is a Butler is a character guy and Howard is a punk. I know Butler will start to play better basketball where as Howard will fade away.

    Haywood of course is on the last year of his contract and has been playing for a new one all season. He won’t stop now.

    Stevenson is horrible. Only hope I have for this trade is he steals minutes from the better players.

  • wannabe_fan

    I don’t think it makes Dallas that much better. Neither one are superstars, merely solid players on a bad team in the Leastern conference.

    Amare could make a small impact for us this season (maybe), but he surely is not an option for the future.

    I’m in the minority, but I think we should push on with what we have. If a deal is done, let it be for our spare parts (not Manu), and not for bad contract in return. Yeah, I know, wishful thinking…

  • Daniel B.

    I tend to think this may not be bad news for us. Here’s why:

    (1) Howard has generally given us difficulty. We can have a tough time guarding him. (I’m not sure of our history against Butler, though. If he’s historically more troublesome, this point fades significantly.)
    (2) This is a big line-up change for the Mavericks. They’ll basically be getting rid of two starters (if Haywood takes over for Dampier). Surely the Spurs aren’t the only team that struggles with chemistry issues.
    (3) This comes late in the season. If Dallas feels so insecure about what they’ve got to make such a big change with only about 30 games left, that’s got to be a good thing. And if chemistry concerns rear up, there won’t be much time to right the ship.

    Precise impact trades at this point in the season make sense. Sizeable multi-player deals that have significant line-up reprecussions are more of a gamble.

  • http://www.truthaboutit.net/ Truth About It.net

    Worth noting for the record:

    DeShawn Stevenson can no longer knock down three-pointers.

  • greyberger

    A gamble is really what the Mavs needed… not unlike another Texas team, they’re interested in getting to the Finals either this year or next. As soon as you’re confident you’re not going to get their with your current squad it’s time to start looking around for trades.

    You can argue it hurts their chances rather than helping, but they wouldn’t have done it if they thought they had a realistic chance with the crew they had.

  • Drew

    @ Ted
    I think Haywood would’ve been GREAT for the Spurs. A nice interior defense and shot blocking presence.

    @Hurm66
    Dalembert is also DOUBLE the price at 12 Mil. Is shot blocking worth that much? I know we’ve anted up with the checkbook this year but I don’t like that cap number.

    And regarding this trade, I’m more worried about Haywood then Butler. To me, Butler and Howard are mirror images of each other but Haywood brings good defense to a team that has already been trying to actually play some this season. That worries me almost as much as Stoudemire going to Cleveland? How do we keep up?

  • td4life

    dallas wins the division but they still get owned in each match up versus the Lakers. I hate the frickin lakers. Bynum, Odom, or even Artest can take dirk right out of the game, and the mavs have no way of stopping LA inside.
    Artest and Kobe can win the matchup versus Butler (who may turn out to be somewhat of a bust a la jefferson, unless he vastly improves/ returns to his form from many seasons back) and Terry.
    Marion has been embarrassed by Odom throughout his career.
    So you gotta wonder if Cuban is delusional, or he’s just gambling that Lakers have one or two major injuries (which will still allow them to remain contenders, as their recent play proves) come playoff time?
    The mavs only hope to is to go with Terry, Butler, Marion, Dirk, Haywood, with Terry being the difference maker. Still, they’ll be outmatched on defense.
    Not a very lucrative move for the mavs, unless they get really really really lucky.
    Likewise, the Spurs might really have liked Haywood next to Duncan, but to be true contenders we need better scoring, and hopefully, a true stopper to go with such a combo on the inside. They need way better perimeter play.

  • td4life

    The spurs don’t have much of a shot this season. If we got a Camby, and gave Manu more minutes as the primary ball handler, we might have a chance at making some noise this season, but I’m ready to see them gamble on a major rebuild to give us pieces for Timmy’s next 4 seasons.
    I think we could swap RJ for Peja in order to give the Hornets a better fit, and get back Collison who’s a very good passer, scorer, and an earnest defender, but needs time to mature and can’t be retained by the Hornets long-term. Maybe they’ll take Mahinmi or a first round pick.
    Or, even better, we give up Tony AND Jefferson (allowing both teams to try to fix what ain’t working) for the 2 pieces mentioned above and David West (who NH has been shopping all season). This gives the spurs the option of sending West (in a 3 team trade to Chicago, plus the 1st round pick they are demanding), for Tyrus Thomas, and small contracts. Allowing the spurs to go after Camby and/or Splitter in the summer…

    Pick 4 of these guys, or maybe 5: Duncan, Camby, Tyrus/West, Blair, Splitter… and look to win another ring.
    In the back court: Manu, Collison, Hill, RMj. I’m ready to go all in with Manu running the point. And I like Collison as a true point guard for the next 10 years.
    We ride out Peja’s contract just the same as we would RJ, but Peja gives you more points. Can we get Thabo Sefolosha? I like his defense!

  • VP of Common Sense

    Why would the Hornets want Parker if they already have Chris Paul?

  • agutierrez

    On the “chemistry” question: I thought Kenny Smith made a good point the other night when he said that the failure to “gel” or achieve good chemistry at this point in the season was less a function of new players than it was to inconsistent rotations, playing times and roles. That is, any player will have a hard time knowing what his role is, what is expected of him, how he fits with other players, etc. if he has no idea when he will be put in, under what circumstances, with what other players, how many minutes he’ll get, and so on. I think Pop’s wild rotations and inconsistency have fed the team’s inconsistency and lack of chemistry. As for the Mavs, sure I hope this trade creates havoc among them, but whether they have chemistry issues is probably more a function of how the new players are used. I don’t remember Butler giving us much trouble. Hopefully, the trade blows up in their face. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving outfit.

  • SpurredOn

    Haywood helps the Mavs match up better with the Lakers. Howard, though not living up to his overall rep, still caused huge issues with the Spurs so his leaving is still a net plus for the Spurs when matching up with Dallas. Butler is an excellent guy to have for end of game situations, but Dallas already has that covered with Dirk and Terry. I think this gives them some better depth and helps with specific match up issues with LA, but overall they’ve kind of over-achieved thus far and will likely then match that in the remaining games. They’re still not a top 3 team in the West.

  • stephen

    The Spurs played one of their best games of the season in Denver before the break. If that game wasn’t an anamoly and we start playing some of our bigs, maybe we’ve still got a shot. Is there any chance of us actually getting Dalembert? That would be a great fit.

  • Tristan

    i would love to see david lee and timmy d play side by side.

  • SpursfanSteve

    David Lee is good but he’s no better than Blair.

  • Jim Henderson

    Trade proposal/comment I put up 3 days ago:

    Needless to say, it hasn’t been well-received. I guess people on this blog think we would have only wanted Haywood if we could give them Bogans in return, or that we should only be willing to trade Jefferson (which no one in their right mind would trade for at 14.2 mil.), or Parker (whose injury issues and large non-expiring contract makes moving him more difficult) for some all-stars inn return.

    At least commenter DREW understands that Haywood would have been a great addition/fit for Spurs.

    Well, here’s a copy of the post from 3 days ago:

    “Can we stick to being rational & analytical here? Please take a moment to visit the following trade proposal:

    http://games.espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=yzx84o2

    Let’s get a couple of things straight off the top. I think we can all agree that we’re in need of another tall & big guy in the middle to help us contend with the Lakers. That said, we are not going to be able to get an ALL-STAR CENTER from another team. They are far and few between, and are simply NOT AVAILABLE. With this in mind, please review the following points that support the trade proposal, and then if you’re up to it, make some fact-based replies (i.e., using reason, logic, & stats, if necessary). Thanks.

    I hate to pull the trigger on Manu, I love the guy’s game. But let’s deal with some very important facts:

    (1) We ain’t going nowhere with our current small, short, and/or aging frontline. You saw how the Lakers destroyed us recently without the Bryant threat, and without Bynum. And we beat Denver while they had their bags packed, and without their best interior defender.
    (2) We need size, height, rebounding, shot blocking, and an additional scoring presence in the post, and we need to continue to balance the team with a bit more youth on the roster.
    (3) EXPIRING CONTRACTS is the name of the game as we approach this years trading deadline. A lot of teams like the Wizard’s are desperately trying to free up some cap space to make a run at some fee agents this summer.
    (4) This what we get from the trade proposal at the link above: SIZE – Haywood is 7′, 263 pds.; SCORING IN THE PAINT, REBOUNDING, INTERIOR DEFENSE & REBOUNDING – Haywood is averaging a double-double in rebounding & points, and blocks 2.1 shots a game; YOUTH – Haywood is 30 yrs. old, Foye is 26 yrs. old.
    (5) Sure we would miss Ginobli – he’s a fun player! But consider the following: Ginobli is 6 years older than Foye – that’s a BIG difference – and compare their career stats; pts., assists, rebounds, 3 pt. %: Foye – 12.4, 3.5, 2.7, 37% – Ginobli – 14.6, 3.7, 4.0, 37%. Nobody’s saying that Ginobli’s not a better player, but Foye is NO slouch, and has more upside at this point in his career.
    (6) Overall assessment/comments: Remember, Foye is a hybrid point/two-spot, like Hill, only taller. Thus, Foye, Hill, & Parker because of their solid mix of ball-handling, scoring, & passing, would form a very solid 3-guard rotation, with Mace giving us some more 3-point punch. Our frontline would now consist of Duncan, Haywood, Jefferson, McDyess, Blair, & Bonner, giving us a much better balance of inside/outside scoring, defense, and rebounding. Both new additions would make us younger, in a good way!
    (7) Finally, I agree with some of the previous comments defending Parker. He’s not perfect, but when healthy he is unequivocally one of the better all-around point guards in the league, and we’ve won 3 titles with his style of play. Also, his trade value is not strong right now because of his recent injury issues, and plus he has a 15 mil. not expiring contract. Also, while I appreciate Manu’s creativity and passing ability at the two-spot, I don’t agree with those that see Ginobli as a quasi point guard. His tendency to go for the “difficult” pass, while entertaining, is too turnover-prone to be relied upon for point duties on any kind of a consistent basis.

    Sorry to say, but trading Manu is probably our best hope of challenging for a title this year, and in the coming few years. Haywood is the key; we simply MUST have a guy like him to assist an aging Duncan & McDyess in the front court. Otherwise, believe me, we’re toast!

    P.S. I’m afraid we’re stuck with Jefferson. But look on the bright side: There’s a very good chance he will improve some in the coming weeks & months!”

  • junierizzle

    I say roll with what they’ve got. MCdeezy will be there when it counts and Blair is a more than solid back up.
    RMJ and Bonner just need to be out there more. They can light it up if given the chance.

    I don’t see them trading MANU. THey knew what they were doing when they entered the season. They put it all on this season. So they have to roll with MANU. I think he has earned the right to earn a new contract.

  • Sauce

    i think amare would step it up in cleveland b/c the spotlight is going to be on him as well as the pressure. he will be forced to play D especially with the star powers in shaq and lebron.

    we should wait and see how the dallas trade plays out. caron butler could be a richard jefferson, vince carter addition. i like haywood, however, but all his points come in the paint whereas gooden could stretch the floor a bit. stevenson is not going to get much playing time so he doesn’t matter.

  • Rey

    Hey guys, I’ve heard about this (alleged) upcoming trade between San Antonio and Sacramento, where the Spurs would give up a big-name player (RJ? Manu?) for a point guard and a small forward? I’ve been trying to go over the ‘net on this one, but so far I’ve no luck…

  • Hobson13

    @ Rey, maybe trade Tony Parker for Tyreke Evans and Kevin Martin? Salaries match up pretty well. Wouldn’t that be a beautiful trade? Thats probably a pipe dream though…

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Timothy Varner

    Rey,

    That rumor was started by the Kings during a recent telecast, except they didn’t tie themselves to it. Not sure if there is anything there. But if the Spurs do something with the Kings, I’d imagine Sactown would push one of Udrih or Nocioni back on us. Those are the contracts they’re trying to shed.

  • therealkman
  • Pingback: Spurs Face Expiring Time and Contracts | 48 Minutes of Hell