LeBron James is off the market.
Chris Paul still hasn't made it to the market.
There is suddenly a real possibility, as a result, that the Mavericks will not use their vaunted Erick Dampier trade chip.
“A good chance,” one team source cautioned.
Reason being: After all the buildup about the trade possibilities at its disposal by combining, say, Dampier with Caron Butler’s last-year deal, LeBron is gone now and New Orleans continues to tell every team that calls that it won’t trade Paul.
Dallas, meanwhile, is determined not to ship out Dampier’s fully unguaranteed $13 million contract just to take back someone else’s long-term deal.
The Mavs are telling teams that they have to furnish a clear roster upgrade if they want the ability to acquire Dampier, cut him instantly and wipe $13 million off the books.
Sources say Minnesota has been urging Dallas to part with Dampier’s contract and draft considerations in exchange for Al Jefferson, who has three years left on his contract at $42 million. The Mavericks keep telling the Wolves that they won't surrender Dampier’s contract in a Jefferson deal because they have it earmarked for a Gasol-type trade, such as a theoretical sign-and-trade arrangement for James or as the centerpiece of Dallas’ longstanding pursuit of Paul.
The problem? It’s a steep drop in terms of difference-makers that might be available after LeBron and his good buddy CP3.
The Mavs' hard-line stance could always change if they miss out on their other summer targets. For now, though, look for them to take a measured look at their options on the trade market for the next month or so, disappointing as it would be if they can’t turn their best asset into tangible help for Dirk Nowitzki after so much hoopla.
Just to be clear, though: Sources say Dallas does remain interested in Jefferson if the Wolves prove amenable to a deal that does not involve Dampier’s contract.
And just to be clear, Part II: Dallas remains highly interested in re-signing Dampier if it does end up dealing him to a team that simply plans to release him.