Report: Mavs almost landed Paul Pierce in deadline deal

Mark Cuban apparently was shooting straight when he declared that the Mavericks almost pulled the trigger on a blockbuster deal before the trade deadline.

In fact, it appears he was speaking “The Truth,” aka Paul Pierce.

According to a Yahoo! Sports report, the Mavs nearly landed the Celtics legend in a three-way deal that would have sent Josh Smith to Boston. That supports the coy claims that Cuban made after the deadline passed with the Mavs just making a minor deal to acquire Anthony Morrow from the Hawks.

“It was crazy,” Cuban said the day after the deadline on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. “We thought we had a bunch of things done, literally a bunch of things done. We had teams get cold feet at the last minute. … Things that would have used cap room next year, would have had money next year, that were high-dollar guys, difference-maker guys.”

Yahoo! reported that the Mavs would have sent a package of fringe rotation players (Jae Crowder, Brandan Wright and since-traded Dahntay Jones) to Atlanta, plus swapping positions with the playoff-bound Hawks in the upcoming draft. The deal reportedly didn’t happen because Boston refused to send its first-round pick to the Hawks.

It would have been fascinating to see Pierce and Dirk Nowitzki play together a decade and a half after the debate about whether the Mavs made a mistake by not selecting Pierce in the 1998 NBA draft. The pair of surefire Hall of Famers ended up being far and away the two best players in that draft, with all due respect to Mavs sixth man Vince Carter.

The 35-year-old Pierce, whose $15.3 million salary next season is only partially guaranteed, still has plenty left in the tank. He is averaging 18.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists this season.

Theoretically, Pierce would have started at small forward for the Mavs with Shawn Marion making room for him by moving to the bench to back up both forward positions. The addition of Pierce, a proven closer, could have done wonders for fixing the Mavs’ crunch-time misery this season.

Would the addition of Pierce have made the Mavs a championship-caliber team? Probably not, but it certainly would have increased their chances of making the playoffs and doing some damage in late April and early May.

It’s also proof that Cuban’s competitive fire burns as strongly as ever, as well as evidence that the Mavs are reasonably not very optimistic about their odds of winning the Dwight Howard summer sweepstakes.

The deal didn’t go down, but it’s serves as an example of the possibilities for a creative front office that has financial flexibility in today’s NBA. And that, as much as free agency, will make for a fascinating summer in Dallas.