The NBA trade deadline falls on Feb. 21, which means that teams are frantically assessing their needs and deciding if they want to be buyers, sellers, or loiterers in this market. Our Kelly Dwyer ran through some of the hottest rumors on Monday, and in just a few days those stories have mutated and developed into about 400 different scenarios. 'Tis the season, I guess.
The Dallas Mavericks are one team that's likely to sell. Owner Mark Cuban has already said his bank is open, and the Mavs aren't looking much like a playoff team at 21-28 and 11th in the West. Some of their veterans could be on the block. That list includes versatile forward Shawn Marion, one of a handful of Mavericks left from the 2011 NBA champions. Marion is the sort of smart, capable player that a contender can use at both ends. Yet, with a sizable contract expiring after next season, he could also prove valuable to a young, rebuilding team willing to wait for its cap space.
Except, according to Marion, he has no interest in playing for a bad team and won't report to one if he's dealt. From Tim McMahon for ESPNDallas.com:
"If I'm going to get traded, they're going to tell me what's going on and where I'm going," the 14-year veteran said. "Because if I'm going to a [expletive] situation, I'm not going. It's just that simple.
"At this time, I'm too old to be trying to go through and be a, you know what I'm saying, not have a chance to do anything. I'm at a point where I want to be playing for something right now."
Marion didn't have an angry tone when he delivered this message. Rather, he was matter-of-fact, insisting he won't report to a team that doesn't have a chance to contend for a title.
"That's the only way I'm going, yeah," Marion said. "Yeah, that's it. That's the only possibility that could come out of that. Other than that, it ain't happening."
The response to Marion's protestations is pretty obvious: He already plays for a bad team! The Mavs' days of contention are over, and their inability to keep pace with the rest of the West should be a telling sign that Marion's not exactly in the thick of postseason preparations as is. Why would he be so against playing for a bad team?
Well, not all bad teams are created equal, and the comfort of playing for one franchise can make up for a lot of the problems that come with a trip to the lottery. Marion is comfortable in Dallas, and he likely trusts that an organization that recently won a championship can get back to that level again. Dallas presents a known set of circumstances. Even though the Mavs are about to enter a different era, there's a relative lack of uncertainty in playing for them. What Marion's saying, in effect, is that if he's going to give up that level of comfort, he needs to play for a contender. It's the only tradeoff he's willing to accept.
This statement doesn't help the Mavericks, of course, because it potentially limits the number of teams that might be willing to trade for Marion. However, it's also true that Marion is more valuable to a contending team regardless of his attitude. Plus, the three-team swap is such a standard part of NBA deals at this point that teams can easily fiddle around to change the terms of the deal. It's not as if Marion's warnings make the situation impossibly complicated. They just add another wrinkle to a system that already requires creativity and flexibility on the part of all parties.