Now what can Mavs do with Dampier chip?

Remember the rumblings from inside the American Airlines Center that the Mavs might not use their vaunted Erick Dampier trade chip?

Well, that looks a lot more likely now that the Utah Jazz have apparently swooped in to swipe Al Jefferson, as ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported.

"We're not just looking for reasons to get players that aren't going to help us," Donnie Nelson told us on ESPN 103.3’s Galloway & Company last week. "It wouldn't make sense if we all of a sudden got some fossil at the end of his career and it cost us $10 million, plus tax, and he didn't crack the rotation.

"We've got that [Dampier] chip. It's a valuable one. We're actively in discussions, but we'll pull that trigger [only] if it makes sense and we can take a significant step forward."

Now what do the Mavs do with Dampier’s evaporating contract?

They can hold their breath and hope that the Hornets finally change their mind about trading Chris Paul. Kinda like you can plan for retirement by buying lottery tickets.

The Mavs want to package the contracts of DeShawn Stevenson (one season left at $4.1 million) and Matt Carroll ($11.7 million over the next three seasons) with Dampier’s $13 million salary that would be wiped off the other team’s books moments after the NBA approved the trade.

Here are a handful of potential options (remaining contract in parentheses):

Richard Hamilton ($37.5 million over three years, final season is partially guaranteed): The Pistons are reportedly willing to dump their three-time All-Star shooting guard for future salary cap relief. Hamilton might be the Mavs’ best shooting guard since Michael Finley, but Rip has some red flags. He is 32 and his shooting percentages have plummeted the last two seasons, when he missed a total of 51 games.

Monta Ellis ($44 million over four years) He’s only 24 and averaged 25.5 points and 5.3 assists for Nellie’s run-and-gun Warriors last season. Does Rodrigue Beaubois have that type of potential? The excitement about Beaubois – and the fact that he comes at a fraction of Ellis’ price – might prevent the Mavs from considering a combo guard.

Danny Granger ($50.9 million over four years): He’s a versatile go-to guy who can defend and is in his prime at 27. The problem: The Pacers might not part with him for financial relief. Granger’s name came up in trade rumors before the draft, but the return would have been Devin Harris and the No. 3 overall pick.

Andre Iguodala ($56.5 million over four years): The Mavs and Sixers had serious discussions before the deal with Washington went down last season. He’s a poor perimeter shooter, but he does a lot of other things well (17.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.7 steals last season). But he’ s not an elite player, although he has that sort of price tag. The Sixers want to pair Elton Brand (three years, $51.2 million) with Iguodala in a mega salary dump, but Brand’s contract is a deal-killer.

Gilbert Arenas ($80.2 million over four years): Forget all the off-court drama for a moment. It’s difficult to see the Mavs paying a gunner (so to speak) with a scary injury history more than Dirk Nowitzki. And, once again, the Mavs hope that Beaubois will become a prolific combo guard at a fraction of the price.

Andris Biedrins ($36 million over four years): That’s a lot of money to pay a guy who would be a backup center, especially since Biedrins’ offensive skill set consists of finishing around the basket. But the 24-year-old runs the floor and rebounds well, and the Mavs need somebody to pair with Brendan Haywood.