After a fabulous rookie season, point guard Darren Collison has disappointed a bit. He's regressed, in fact, with his shooting percentages, assist rates, and overall effectiveness heading downward each season since 2009-10. But has he fallen so far that the Indiana Pacers would trade him and defensive-minded wing Dahntay Jones to the Dallas Mavericks (as first reported by Draft Express' Jonathan Givony) for the right to hand big man Ian Mahinmi $16 million over four seasons to act as Roy Hibbert's backup? Even considering all the flowery things we churned out about needing to pay a premium for centers, is Mahinmi really worth a point guard still boasting potential, and your spot-on wing defender?
New Pacers head men Donnie Walsh and Kevin Pritchard, who weren't on the team's payroll when former el jefe Larry Bird signed Jones in 2009 and traded for Collison in 2010, apparently think so. Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski has pointed out that the Pacers are involved in talks to bring Charlotte Bobcats guard D.J. Augustin to Indiana, but losing depth for an agreed-upon reserve like Mahinmi (who ex-Pacer Mark Jackson might even out-rebound some nights, were he still active) seems like a bit of a reach. Especially when the sign-and-trade machinations behind Augustin's eventual contract could result in that guard (currently a restricted free agent) becoming overpaid.
And especially when you're dealing a starting-level point man without a guarantee that Augustin's arrival is certain. This isn't a terrible trade for Indiana, and Mahinmi is going to be making less than the league's average salary while providing an athletic backup's play at a position that has seen too many power forwards masquerading as centers try to man. Still, couldn't the Pacers have waited this out, gone over the cap, and used an exception on the former Maverick? Couldn't they have taken advantage of the one other year on Collison's rookie deal? Couldn't they have finagled something better?
Again, it's not awful. Gerald Green could be on his way to Indy, and Collison clearly hit a wall with this particular team. The execution just seems a bit off.
For Dallas? It's a win. The team's offseason has been a massive whiff, and even they'll admit to that while they add Collison and Chris Kaman to places that Jason Kidd, Tyson Chandler, Brendan Haywood (who is due to be waived by the team in a few days) and potentially Dwight Howard and Deron Williams could have gone; but accruing depth for a player that wasn't going to be counted on for much in 2012-13 is worth a shot. Kaman could always shoot his eye out and miss a significant chunk of 2012-13, leaving the Mavs to rue Mahinmi's departure, but nothing important was ever going to happen in Dallas during 2012-13. That's the unfortunate truth, as much as we respect what might be the finest top-to-bottom organizations in the NBA (read: "we're still not over the lockout, San Antonio Spurs ownership").
Jones has one year left on his deal, and Collison becomes a restricted free agent in the summer of 2013. All space and potential for Dallas to try another midstream rebuild, as it attempted this offseason, in the next offseason.
And in the end, a curious jump-about for two teams that don't appear to have a whole lot going their way, this summer.