Dallas Mavericks

After 7-Player Trade, Your Mavericks are Better. But How Much Better?

Three years ago to the day I loved Josh Howard. But this morning I'm thrilled that he's no longer a Dallas Maverick.

Why?

Because lost in the parties and record-setting crowd of NBA All-Star Weekend was a seven-player trade that both re-shaped the Mavs' roster and re-booted their hopes for contending for a championship this year.

To the Washington Wizards: Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, Quinton Ross and James Singleton.

To the Mavs: Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson.

"The Mavs have made a great deal," said TNT analyst and notorious Mavs' critic Charles Barkley. "It was time for Josh to go. In Caron Butler they've got a better player, let's face it. They're a tougher team."

At first blush seems like the Mavs are better today than they were on Friday. But let's break it down shall we?

What Dallas loses: Howard was an All-Star in '07 but has spiraled downward since. From his play to his health to his off-court gaffes (drag racing, dissin' the National Anthem, etc.), he was no longer close to being Robin to Dirk Nowitzki's Batman. Gooden was better than I expected in Dallas, but at crucial times he couldn't guard bigger players in the paint. Ross and Singleton were afterthought throw-ins who had no present or future in Dallas' front-line rotation.

What Dallas gets: Butler is an athletic, feisty, aggressive forward who's been an All-Star. Not as good an ad-libber as Howard, but a better, more polished basketball player. Since his best position is small forward, the Mavs should - will eventually? - keep Jason Terry at shooting guard, play Butler at small forward and have Shawn Marion come in as an energetic, change-up sixth man. "You're going to love Caron," says Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant. "He's tough as nails. Makes Dallas a better team. Competition in the West just got tougher." Haywood is an athletic 7-footer who can play above-average defense against elite centers and give the Mavs a decent alternative to the inconsistent and injured Erick Dampier.

Bottom line: The Mavs gave up only Howard, and he was undoubtedly in decline. In return they got two players who will immediately be injected into their 8-man rotation. And, since they still have Dampier and since Butler has an impending expiring contract, the Mavs did this without compromising their plans to land a major free agent (LeBron James or Chris Bosh?) this summer.

Not saying the Mavs can now beat the Lakers in a seven-game series. But they can compete with the Nuggets.

Three thumbs up.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Richie Whitt
Contact: Richie Whitt