Sources: Mavs chasing Prince, Smith

The Mavericks plan to make last-ditch trade runs at Detroit’s Tayshaun Prince and Denver’s J.R. Smith before Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, sources close to the situation say.

But Dallas isn’t optimistic about acquiring either player.

Prince and Smith have always ranked high on the Mavs’ trade wish list since Caron Butler’s season-ending injury Jan. 1, not only because of their respective skill sets but because both possess expiring contracts like Butler.

The Pistons, though, have rebuffed every trade inquiry from Dallas -- and every other team -- for Prince. You can’t outright dismiss a last-minute change of heart with anyone this week after Utah stunned the league by dealing Deron Williams on Wednesday morning, but Prince himself sounds as pessimistic as anyone that the up-for-sale Pistons would suddenly consent to move him on deadline day when they’ve held out this long.

Chicago, meanwhile, is most frequently mentioned as the leading suitor for Denver’s Smith, but the Mavs would gladly gamble on the volatile swingman, too. Smith’s 3-point range and $6.7 million ending contract is an attractive combo for the Mavs, since they’re convinced that the presence on the coaching staff of Tim Grgurich -- who helped George Karl keep Smith plugged in with the Nuggets -- along with a vet-filled locker room would make it easier to fit Smith in than his reputation suggests.

Denver, however, appears to be taking the same stance with Smith as it's taken with newly acquired Danilo Gallinari and Raymond Felton as well as Nuggets mainstay Nene. Which is to say that the Nuggets are telling teams that they don’t even want to part with Smith before the deadline, preferring to focus on trying to clinch a playoff spot before considering further roster shuffling in conjunction closer to the draft in June.

Only a few hours remain for the Mavs to find out if there’s any hope of getting the Pistons or Nuggets to budge. Butler keeps insisting that he’s going to find a way to make it back on the floor in time for the playoffs, but this much is certain: Thursday is the last day he and his $10.6 million expiring deal are eligible to be moved this season.

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