It wasn’t that long ago when the Mavericks were hot on the heels of the Spurs for the best record in not only the Western Conference but the league. San Antonio is still setting the pace. Dallas? Not so much.
The Mavs have fallen on hard times. First they lost Dirk Nowitzki for nine games with a bum knee. During Dirk’s absence, Caron Butler was lost for the rest of the regular season with a torn patella tendon. (Butler does expect to be back during the playoffs.)
The Mavs (26-15) have dropped nine of 11 going into tonight’s tussle (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET) with the Los Angeles Lakers (31-12) at American Airlines Center. The champs aren’t facing the same Dallas team of just a few weeks ago, writes Jeff Caplan of ESPNDallas.com.
Instead, what Kobe, the “Boy Toy” coach and the rest of the two-time champion Los Angeles Lakers might find Wednesday night at American Airlines Center is the shrinking, scattered mess of a team that’s been recently dusted by the Toronto Raptors, the Indiana Pacers, the Memphis Grizzlies and, as of Monday afternoon, the Detroit Pistons.
So the questions now in Big D are now what position the Mavs will be in once the postseason gets here — they’re fallen to fith in the West — and if a big trade is in the works. Mark Cuban isn’t shy when it comes to pulling blockbuster triggers. What does Dallas have to deal with?
Caron Butler’s expiring $10.8 deal is at the top of the list. As for the potential targets the replace Butler, Marc Stein of ESPN.com gives us names such as Stephen Jackson, J.R. Smith, Tayshaun Prince, Corey Maggette and former Maverick point guard Devin Harris.
The Mavs also eagerly await the return of scoring whiz Roddy Beaubois, but it’s looking like the second-year guard won’t be back until February at the earliest.