With Thursday's 3 p.m. NBA trade deadline looming, let's answer three burning questions and see what could be in store for the Dallas Mavericks.
1. Will Andrew Bogut be Traded?
When the Mavericks brought Bogut into the fold back in July, they envisioned him contributing as a key cog next to Dirk Nowitzki on the Mavs front line. Unfortunately, due to a variety of injuries from both players, the pairing hasn't worked. Bogut and Dirk are just too slow to be out on the court at the same time. In result, the Mavs decided it would be best to start Dirk at center and bring Bogut off the bench.
With persisting hamstring and knee issues, Bogut's value as a trade asset has been tough to read. Slow, plotting centers seem to be a dying breed in today's game. Fortunately for Bogut, he brings additional elements to his game to further improve his team. Bogut possesses a high-level basketball IQ and superior passing vision to go with his notorious rigid rim protection. He could make an impact for a contending team playing somewhere between 12-25 minutes a night.
According to Scout.com's Mike Fisher, the Mavericks and Boston Celtics are expecting to have discussions around a deal that would send Andrew Bogut to the Celtics for a match salary piece like Tyler Zeller and a future 1st round pick. At this point in the game, it would be a stretch if the Mavericks would be able to get a 1st round pick out of Bogut. I wrote a couple of weeks ago that due to Bogut's injury history, the Mavs would be more in line to receive a 2nd round pick as fair compensation for Bogut.
If the Mavericks decide to hold onto Bogut, it would be a clear sign that they value him as an important enough asset to try to help them get the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoff race. I would not be surprised if the Mavs fell out of the playoff race that they would decide to cut bait on Bogut and buy him out, allowing him to sign on with a contender.
2. Would Deron Williams waive his no-trade clause?
Thanks to an unexpected climb within the Western Conference standings, the Mavs just sit a mere three games back for the eighth and final playoff spot. They've arrived in this position thanks to the surprising play of rookie point guard, Yogi Ferrell and the resurgence of their franchise cornerstone, Dirk Nowitzki.
Williams grew up and went to high school within the Dallas Fort-Worth area, he obviously enjoys living in the area and playing for the Mavs. He also is currently on a very team friendly deal worth just $9 million dollars, which is set to expire at season's end. After the most recent string of success without Williams, will the Mavericks try to move him before the deadline?
Don't get me wrong, Williams has had a solid, productive year for the Mavs where he is averaging 13.1 points with 6.9 assists per game, but with this being the last year of his 1-year $9 million dollar deal, Williams could potentially net a decent asset in return.
ESPN's Marc Stein and Tim Macmahon are reporting that the Utah Jazz have expressed a level of interest in re-acquiring Deron Williams.
Williams would serve as a solid backup to George Hill for the Jazz, bringing an extra level of shooting and playmaking ability off the bench. Interesting enough, the Jazz own two first round picks in the 2017 draft. If the Mavericks could somehow get their hands on one of the two first round picks they would be ecstatic. It is worth noting that they would have to get Williams to sign off on any trade as he possesses a rare no-trade clause in his contract because he signed back-to-back 1-year deals with the same team, therefore would have to waive his Bird rights if he was traded to another team. Williams still owns a house in Utah. Would the Jazz dare to bring back one of the players that spurn them back in 2011? If they want to compete for a championship this season, I think they should take a swing.
Dealing both Williams and Bogut could be a win-win for both parties involved as the Mavericks will open up additional playing time for younger players and Williams and Bogut will get a chance to compete with a contender.
3. Will the Mavs pursue a young big man?
Yesterday during Zach Lowe's "Lowe Post Podcast," Lowe and ESPN's Marc Stein discussed the market for the Philadelphia 76ers big men. Stein said, "As long as Nowitzki is around, I would think Noel is someone who should interest the Mavs." The tricky part in any deal involving the 76ers would be the assets the Mavericks would have to deal to obtain a player of Noel's caliber. According to Stein, Mark Cuban has been on the record saying that he would be willing to bring back contracts as long as fair draft compensation is attached.
In an instant like Noel's, the Mavericks would most likely have to surrender a draft asset rather than receive one to get Noel. Another wrinkle with Noel is that he is a restricted free-agent this summer and looks to demand a fair amount of money. Would the Mavericks be willing to pony up for a player like Noel?
A couple of other interesting names to look out for before the 3 p.m. deadline could include young talented big men like Derrick Favors and Andre Drummond. The Mavericks have not been shy in regards to their feelings about young athletic rim-running centers to pair with Nowitzki. They pursued Dwight Howard and Hassan Whiteside in previous summers. Would the Mavericks be willing to include their 2017 1st round pick to get Drummond? My guess would be no.
The Mavericks, last deadline deal, was back in 2013 when they acquired Anthony Morrow from the Hawks for Dahntay Jones. Donnie Nelson and the Mavericks front office typically like to make deals earlier in the season, allowing extra time for the player to acclimate himself into the Mavericks organizational culture.
Look for this deadline to help give the fanbase a hint of what direction the Mavericks are going. If they hold onto Williams and Bogut, it's a sign that they are going after a run at the eighth seed. If those players are dealt, it's a sign that the Mavericks are willing to let their younger players spread their wings more and see where they can take this team.