Your Dallas Mavericks Were Almost Playing in Tonight’s NBA Finals

Squint hard enough and you can see these two in Mavericks' blue.

Well, not really. But we can dream.

And, as nightmares go, how’s this? The Mavericks almost made three separate trades for guys who will figure prominently in what should be a scintillating, fascinating NBA Finals between the Lakers and Celtics. Guys named Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Kevin Garnett.

It’s okay, take a 20-second timeout to collect your thoughts.

On his appearance on ESPN Radio last week, owner Mark Cuban confirmed he basically pooh-poohed acquiring Kobe and Gasol because the Lakers wanted Dirk Nowitzki and the Grizzlies wanted Josh Howard.

Last July the Mavs and Lakers talked, but L.A. wanted Dirk and Cuban vowed not to trade his franchise player. This winter Memphis, turns out, targeted Howard. When told no, they traded Gasol to the Lakers for a recycled colostomy bag.

How’s Dirk-for-Kobe looking right about now? How about Howard-for-Gasol?

And, while on the subject, how’s Garnett-for-Anyone-But-Dirk hit you? Again, it was longshot. But, like Kobe and Gasol, it was at least discussed in some form. All three deals would have never happened, but I'd like my Mavs more today if just one had been consummated.

Which, somehow, brings us to my prediction for a series I’m genuinely looking forward to. Probably the first Finals with intrigue since the Mavs led the Heat 2 ¾-0 back in ’06.

Gimme the Celtics in seven. But also gimme this series 21 years ago.

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