Traditonal trade is Mavs' best hope

The Dallas brass is determined to acquire another “big fish,” to borrow a Donnie Nelson term, to pair with Dirk Nowitzki.

It appears unlikely that the catch will come from the most glorified free agent crop in NBA history.

Maybe the Mavs are still a long shot in the LeBron James sweepstakes, but it can’t be encouraging that they weren’t one of the teams invited to travel to Cleveland for a sitdown with the King. The Mavs might get a meeting with Dwyane Wade, but there’s a miniscule chance of that awkward marriage actually happening.

Dallas native Chris Bosh doesn’t seem interested in working in his hometown or playing most of his minutes at center. Joe Johnson is reportedly prepared to accept Atlanta’s max offer.

We could go on down the list of impact free agents, explaining why the fit isn’t there with the Mavs for each player. But you probably get the point.

The Mavs are taking a patient approach in free agency. It takes three to tango with sign-and-trade deals, and the Mavs are proceeding with caution in part out of concern of perturbing teams they’d need to work with to make the deals.

At this point, however, it looks much more likely that the Mavs’ major offseason acquisition will come from the traditional trade waters.

The same assets that the Mavs hope can make them players in the sign-and-trade market – Erick Dampier’s non-guaranteed deal, the expiring contracts of Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson and J.J. Barea, picks, cash, the rights to Dominique Jones, etc. – will be attractive to cost-cutting teams all summer. (Rodrigue Beaubois isn’t going anywhere unless the Mavs can get an MVP candidate in return.)

The Mavs remain optimistic about the sign-and-trade market, but they’re also realistic. They’ve got plenty of lines in the traditional trade waters, too.