HANG TIME SOUTHWEST — Tuesday’s first trade of the NBA season, a ho-hummer in which the Charlotte Bobcats sent shooting guard Matt Carroll to the New Orleans Hornets for forward Hakim Warrick, didn’t make news as much as it spawned a Twitterverse comedy hour, a seemingly endless timeline of sarcasm and supposed wit mocking an exchange of low-minute guys.
Few jokes, jabs or barbs, however, likely originated from laptops in the City of Dallas. No sir. You see, in Dallas, Matt Carroll is something of a hero, the final, critical piece to the 2011 championship puzzle — or, more accurately, a facilitator to acquiring said hero and final, critical piece to the 2011 championship puzzle.
On July 13, 2010, the Mavs traded Carroll, Erick Dampier (the linchpin with his fully non-guaranteed $13 million contract) and Eduardo Najera to the Bobcats for a pair of centers, Alexis Ajinca and, drum roll please … Tyson Chandler, hero and final, critical piece to the 2011 championship puzzle.
Of course, no one knew it when it happened. In fact, in Big D, Chandler arrived to a collective yawn that rivaled Tuesday’s trade. Fans were banking on the much-hyped Dampier trade chip netting a superstar to pair with Dirk Nowitzki. Who knew?
So Carroll had quite the unique and overwhelmingly valuable existence in Dallas for a player who scored 71 points over 262 minutes in 46 games in a season-and-a-half. Yet every time the name Matt Carroll comes up, it makes Mavs owner Mark Cuban bust out with a smile.
“I do,” Cuban wrote in an email. “Because Matt is such a good guy. He makes the NBA better on the court and off.”
Carroll’s Mavs magic started on July 17, 2007, when Charlotte handed him a six-year, $26.9 million contract after he posted a career season, averaging 12.1 points while shooting 41.6 percent from beyond the arc. He’d have one more pretty good season the next year before basically plummeting.
Meanwhile back in Dallas, on July 2008, the Mavs inexplicably signed free-agent center DeSagana Diop to a five-year, $31 million deal just months after trading him to New Jersey in the Jason Kidd deal. Quickly realizing their miscalculation, Dallas began shopping Diop and found a taker in the Bobcats decision-maker Michael Jordan.
On Jan. 16, 2009, Dallas acquired Carroll and his contract and unloaded Diop and his contract on the Bobcats. By the time memorable July 13, 2010 rolled around, Carroll had just enough dough left on his once-in-a-lifetime contract to make him the perfect fit in the package for Chandler.
And most fortunate for the Mavs, the generous Jordan agreed to bring Carroll back to Charlotte where he joined Diop in enjoying a bit role on the NBA’s worst team, until Tuesday.
For Cuban and what’s left his almost completely altered Mavs, it was a day to reminisce.