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Mavs still searching for 'right deal'

DALLAS -- The Mavs aren't any closer to making "the right deal" after the official start of All-Star Weekend.

New names will probably pop up over the next few days and until the Feb. 18 trade deadline, but Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala and Washington's Caron Butler continue to dominate the Mavs-centric rumor mill.

The Mavs have serious interest in Iguodala, but a deal for the explosive Sixers swingman appears to be a long shot at this point. The word is that Philadelphia's front office has changed its mind and is no longer looking to unload the 26-year-old with the massive contract (four years, $56 million after this season).

That could change if a team is willing to also take back the contract of big man Samuel Dalembert or power forward/center Elton Brand. Dalembert, who is due more than $12 million next season, would push Mark Cuban near the breaking point of his financial pain threshold. Dallas won't even discuss Brand, who is due $51 million over the next three years.

A trade the Mavs would probably pull the trigger on is Josh Howard/Drew Gooden/Matt Carroll-for-Iguodala/Dalembert. Including Carroll ($11.7 million over next three seasons) in the package at least lessens the sting to Cuban's wallet, but the deal would still be a major cost-cutting move for the Sixers. The problem is the Sixers seem to have reconsidered their stance on the importance of shedding salary over being competitive.

The Mavs don't want to do a deal that's based on Howard-for-Butler because they don't believe that's a significant enough upgrade to forfeit the financial freedom the team option in Howard's contract offers this summer. They especially don't want to do such a deal with Washington insisting that DeShawn Stevenson, who has a player option for $4.1 million next season, is shipped off with Butler.

If Washington is willing to expand the discussions to include big man Brendan Haywood in the deal -- here are some specific possibilities -- the Mavs' interest would soar. That hasn't happened yet, as Washington is exploring other options with Butler.

Another factor as the Mavs consider the trade landscape is that Howard appears healthy and has recently shown glimpses of his old form. The Mavs believe now more than ever that unless they can make a major upgrade, they're better off holding on to Howard and hoping that he's at his best when it matters most, much like last season.

UPDATE: ESPN.com's Marc Stein reports that the Mavs and Wizards are now discussing a deal that includes Haywood.