The Dallas Mavericks, for this season and probably a couple more, aren't going anywhere. Despite having some good players, including forward Harrison Barnes and star rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr., the Mavs simply don't have the talent to compete in a Western Conference that includes two championship-caliber teams — the Rockets and Spurs — that stand no chance of winning a championship, either, thanks to the brilliance of the Golden State Warriors.
The Warriors, Rockets and Spurs are so good that there's only one thing for teams like the Mavericks — ones with resources and loyal fan base — to do if they hope to climb the mountain back to genuine contention quickly: tank. Lose fast, lose hard and get high draft picks in hopes of stockpiling elite, controllable talent on the cheap. The Mavs, tied with the Hawks for the worst record in the league, are doing just that, despite a surprising move at Thursday's NBA trade deadline.
On Thursday afternoon, as first reported by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Mavericks traded veteran point guard Devin Harris to the Denver Nuggets as part of a three-team deal involving the Mavs, Nuggets and Knicks. Harris, who's spent parts of 10 seasons in Dallas in two stints, averaged 8.5 points and almost two assists per game for the Mavs this year as part of the team's second unit. While he's always contributed whenever he's been on the floor for the team and was known as a beneficial presence in the locker room, Harris' biggest contribution to Dallas' sports history came in February 2008.
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That month, Harris was the centerpiece of a trade that brought Jason Kidd back to the Mavericks from the the New Jersey Nets (now the Brooklyn Nets), installing a key piece of what became the team's only championship club in 2010-11. The Mavericks signed Harris as a free agent in 2013.
In return for Harris, the Mavericks received small forward Doug McDermott from the Knicks and a second-round draft pick from the Nuggets. McDermott, who's averaged 7.2 points and 2.4 rebounds per game in New York, is expected to provide depth on the wing for Barnes, his former high school teammate. He's a restricted free agent at the end of the season, but, as a former 11th overall pick in the draft, could be seen as a cheap reclamation project for the Mavs front office.
For now, McDermott's a role player who should provide cover for Barnes in the season's second half without leading the Mavericks to too many victories down the stretch. For the trade deadline in a season that will be better forgotten, that's just what the doctor ordered.