Monday, January 25, 2010

The road not taken

Josh Howard is intriguing if nothing else.

He's been called a lot. ACC Player of the Year. A diamond in the rough. A promising rookie. Dirk's "Pippen." The Ultimate X-Factor. Lazy. And unpatriotic.

What he hasn't been called, at least by Mavericks front office officials, is trade bait. For every year the Mavericks fail to reach their ultimate goal, management is quick to say that Howard is part of the team's long term plans. There's been talks, of course, from people like me and people much more important and more listened to than me. But never have the Mavs bought the bait, and sent J-Ho on his way.

Seems like things change. According to Marc Stein, the Mavericks front office look to finally be saying enough is enough.

Ever since Howard has been here, I've typically defended him. I had some bias sure (still had season tickets during his rookie season, when I saw for 41 games what he COULD become.) But ever since Howard was handed the starting role back in 2005, everything slowly changed.

He stopped shutting down perimeter defenders. He took more jump shots. He stopped dive cutting. He stopped driving. He stopped rebounding as hard. Slowly but surely everything that made his game so great and complimenting to Dirk has evaporated to what we see this year: 12.2 ppg. 3.7 rpg. 1.7 assists per game.

Don't give me the injury. According to what I know about ankle operations (which is about how much I know on math) Howard has had more than enough time to fully recover. He's fine. He's played at least 30 minutes in 7 of his last 11 games. The Mavericks know this, otherwise Stein wouldn't have as juicy of a report.

The deal is proposed for Kevin Martin. He averages 21.5 points per game and nothing else really. He shoots 40 percent from 3. Wow, how nice would that be right now? A two-guard who can get 20 points on good shooting (although he's not shooting too well overall right now) and gets to the line. I was worried about how "real" Martin is. After all (with enough shots and an immense drop in weight) I could possibly average 20 points on a lottery plagued team like the Kings have been. Give me 30 shots and I'll try to make it work. But Martin has been doing this yearly for about 6 years now. He gets to the line about 8-10 times a game, so he doesn't just stand around the perimeter. He has a lengthy contract, enough to where the Mavs wouldn't have as much room to land a stellar free agent in the upcoming summer of love, but possibly, the Mavs might not even get one of those studs (I.E. Chris Bosh) if they wait to deal Howard anyways.

Other reports have suggested Andre Iguodala. I like him a lot as a player, but he plays Marions position and I don't feel he has enough handles (or jump shot) to play in the back court. Kidd would make it work but right now, Martin is the better fit.

Imagine it now. Kidd running the break with Marion and Martin beside him, Damp running the middle of the floor (he can catch now!) with Dirk trailing? It sounds too good to be true. Unfortunately the Kings don't seem to be biting, but let's wait till February and how much farther the Kings have fallen after their rosey start. Maybe the pressure of pleasing rook Tyreake Evans and the floundering record will give them a different train of thought.

The Mavs? They know. It's time to take a chance, take a risk. Time to stop the "babying." Time to realize when the well has run dry. Time to not waste what a ridiculous turnaround this team has had on defense. Time to kick start a confusingly bad offense. Time to give Dirk support. Time to let him know "Hey guess what, we want to make sure you get a title."

Trade Josh. Never thought I'd write this 5 years ago. But things change.

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