With less than two minutes to go in the 2013 NBA trade deadline, the Dallas Mavericks made a last-second trade that not only salvaged the perception many hold about their front office but also put one more chip in their hand in terms of signing a superstar this summer.
The Mavericks picked up Anthony Morrow from the Atlanta Hawks for Dahntay Jones in the last moments of the trade deadline. This trade is both teams moving a player with an expiring contract in hopes that a change of scenery will bring out more in them.
Just how close to the deadline was this deal? Mark Cuban was talking to Ben & Skin on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM Friday morning and explained the time constraint.
“It happened with about 95 seconds left to go in the trade deadline,” Cuban said.
What the Mavs will now get in Morrow is what they’ve been desperately needing all season: a pure shooter. As former Mavs head coach Don Nelson told his son, Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, “Next to Chris Mullin, [Morrow’s] probably the best pure shooter I ever coached. You’re going to love him.”
When discussing what he’s done in his NBA career, this season almost needs an asterisk next to it. The 6-5, 210 pound shooting guard has just not gotten the opportunity to play for the Hawks.
In his first four season in the league, Morrow averaged 27.6 minutes and 12.1 points while shooting 42.9 percent from three-point range and 90.0 percent from the free-throw line. This season he has only been averaging 12.5 minutes, leading to a career-low average of 5.2 points. But this makes sense due to the fact that he has over five less shot attempts per game.
The point I’m trying to make here is that this season does not give a good representation of the competitor and shooter the Mavs just obtained. Take Morrow’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on February 3 last season for example. The former Yellow Jacket shot 8-11 from deep, piling in 42 points on the night. He had a total of five games that season in which he made at least five three-pointers in one game. Even though he may be a “three-point specialist” that will have coaches yelling “shooter” when he catches the ball, Morrow still has an efficient mid-range game.
If there’s one thing that is certain, Morrow will help spread the floor for this team.
It is sad to see such a energetic and hard-working playing in Jones go that always gave 110 percent on both ends of the floor. But as said earlier, this acquisition is what Dallas needs. O.J. Mayo may be a fantastic shooter, but he is also the focal point of the offense. He has to do so much more for this team than simply stand outside the arc and get his feet set. Daren Collison can shoot, but his role is to be a distributor and penetrate to the hole. Dirk Nowitzki is, well Dirk. He can hit the three-pointer when needed, but he does most of his work off one leg inside the arc. Vince Carter could be considered someone that spreads the floor, but he has been the only consistent form of offense coming off the bench. Morrow could give Carter the firepower and help he needs when Mayo has to take a seat on the bench. (Cuban also mentioned on the radio that he believes Mayo and Collision being the backcourt for the Mavs’ future is “part of the goal.” Personally, I love to hear that.)
So, this may not have been the splash that gets the Mavs the “big fish” so many fans are anticipating, but it is certainly a step forward in the Mavs’ attempt to squeeze into the playoffs while keeping them financially stable in terms of signing a superstar to a max contract this summer. It may look unlikely with the 4 1/2 games that stand between a lottery pick and the eight seed, but I certainly believe the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets could slip up down the stretch. Morrow could give the Mavs just enough extra “umph” to extend their stretch of consecutive playoff appearances to 13.
Now let’s take a look toward this summer. With the deadline turning out to be one that had “J.J. Redick to the Milwaukee Bucks” as the lead headline, it was clearly one of the less significant deadlines. What that means is there are still a lot of players up for grabs come this upcoming offseason.
But it can’t go unnoticed that the Howard-Lakers combination hasn’t necessarily been all smiles and laughs. No, Kobe, you’re Twitter account photos can’t convince me otherwise.
There has clearly been some dissension between Howard and the Lakers’ organization. It’s always something. Not getting the ball. Not getting the attention. Not getting Kobe to talk to him.
That’s right. There were reports that Kobe Bryant gave Howard the “silent treatement” and barely talked to him during All-Star weekend. You think the most immature player in the NBA enjoys not being talked to by the guy taking away all of his shot attempts?
So, let’s say the Lakers have a short playoff run or fail to make the playoffs at all (both are likely). Once this season comes to a close, Howard will be an unrestricted free agent and get the chance to go anywhere he wants to. That has a high probability of not being Los Angeles. Everybody talked about Kobe and Howard’s attitudes not fitting when Howard’s trade happened and these two egos may never be able to work together.
If he decides to take his talents elsewhere, where will he go?
Looking back, The Mavs, Nets, Magic and Lakers were the only four teams on Howard’s shortlist of franchises he would join come the 2012 offseason – he said this before he signed the one-year extension with the Magic and then was traded to the Lakers in that offseason. (We won’t get into why he signed that extension in the first space because I don’t know….) The Nets have moved past Howard with their very rich backcourt in Deron Williams and Joe Johnson and the Magic are obviously out of the picture. If he leaves L.A., the Mavs are the only team left on this list that have the ability to sign him.
SheridanHoops.com brought to light another factor that might give the Mavs a slight edge. In December of 2011, during a TV interview Howard did while on tour in Russia, he was asked what players he would like to have as teammates.
“Chris Paul, Stephen Jackson. What’s his name, Deron Williams. And Anthony Morrow. I’ve got five, Monta Ellis, I really like him.”
Wow. Did Cuban remember this interview when accepting the trade offer for Morrow? Whether he did or not, if Morrow likes his time Dallas for the rest of this season, he could resign with the Mavericks, possibly (again, possibly) providing more incentive for Howard to sign.
Looking forward, the Mavs, Hawks and Houston Rockets are the teams that have the cap space and clear interest to add D12 to the future of their franchise.
Even though the Mavs don’t have a young franchise corner piece like the Hawks (Al Horford) and Rockets (James Harden), they have a owner and organization that are committed to winning along with being the only team left on his shortlist. Since Howard had such a strong desire to go to Brooklyn, though, he is showing the NBA that he doesn’t necessarily care solely about winning. That is a factor, but he also cares a lot about what will be his role on the team and where he will be playing. Dallas gives him the chance to gracefully take the “franchise player” title from Dirk while playing in a town he has said he enjoys.
And this time when the summer rolls around, Mark Cuban has already asked his Shark Tank producers for time off come late June and early July so he can be there for ever pitch to every big player. Cuban told Ben & Skin that they were pretty close during this year’s deadline to what sounds like a very big trade. He hasn’t given up on this team as so many fans believe. He is someone that will not settle and is simply waiting for the “big fish” that he wants to put on a Mavericks’ jersey.
That player could be Howard.
For now, the Mavs can enjoy a new face and a new pure shooter coming off the bench. Morrow will have plenty of chances to get significant minutes and have a significant impact on this season.
What kind of impact will he have on next season?
Only Howard knows. And based on his past decisions, that literally means – only Howard knows. Once the Lakers inevitably fall short of an NBA title, it will then be that fun time to yet again wait on hand and foot for Mr. Howard to make a decision.
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