Mavs, Wizards agree to Butler-Howard swap

Caron Butler is headed to Dallas, per ESPN…

The teams agreed on the principal pieces Friday: Butler, Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson to Dallas for Josh Howard and Drew Gooden. Mavericks reserves Quinton Ross and James Singleton were added to the deal Saturday and are also Washington-bound, with Dallas due to receive cash considerations in addition to the three players.

I wrote about this deal yesterday.

To me, if the Wizards are rebuilding, why trade Butler for Howard? He’s 29 — the same age as Butler — and hasn’t been the player this year as he has in years past. He has a team option for next season, so presumably they’d let him walk, because if you can’t build around Butler then you certainly can’t build around Howard.

The right way to start a rebuilding process is to get some good young talent or first round draft picks when trading away stars. Otherwise, it’s just a salary dump. This deal might be appealing to the Wizards because they can try to sell their season ticket holders on the fact that, talent-wise, the trade was pretty even. But really, they’re just treading water, if that.

From a talent stanpdoint, this looks like a great trade for the Mavs. Butler is a significant upgrade over Howard, who has struggled this season. Haywood also gives the Mavs a defensive center who can give Dallas some toughness inside now that Erick Dampier is dealing with some soreness in his knee. Butler’s salary for next season ($10.6 M) is pretty reasonable given what he brings to the table.

On the flip side, Wizards’ GM Ernie Grunfeld continues to perplex me. When he was running the Bucks, he was the mastermind behind the disastrous Ray Allen-for-Gary Payton swap, and in the last two years, he signed Gilbert Arenas to an outlandish contract (for a guy coming off of knee surgery) and now, in an effort to “rebuild,” he’s trading away a very good 29-year-old small forward for a decent 29-year-old small forward.

The trade does bring salary cap relief but that’s about it. Butler and Stevenson were due to make $14.6 million combined next season, and the Wizards are potentially going to take on the $1.1 million still owed to Quinton Ross if he exercises his player option for next year. So, by trimming a net of $13.5 million from their 2010-11 payroll, the Wizards will have about $10 million in cap space this summer, assuming they don’t exercise the team option on Howard’s contract.

In other words, this is a salary dump, plain and simple. I’d be shocked if this trade isn’t a precursor to an Antawn Jamison in the next few days. What’s the point of trading Butler if you aren’t going to move Jamison too?


Photo from fOTOGLIF

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Butler-Howard swap in the works?

ESPN is reporting that there is new life to the Dallas/Washington trade that would be centered around Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and Josh Howard.

Talks between the teams had stalled in the past week, partly because of Washington’s insistence that the Mavericks take guard DeShawn Stevenson in any Butler deal, but the potential for acquiring two front-line players — since Butler and Haywood would immediately become key rotation players for the Mavs — has renewed Dallas’ interest.

Sources told ESPN.com that the teams’ negotiations only turned more serious Friday on a deal that would send Josh Howard, Drew Gooden and some smaller cap-friendly contracts to Washington for Butler, Haywood and Stevenson.

Well, color me confused. Earlier, we discussed the possibility of the Wizards sending Butler and Antawn Jamison to the Celtics for Ray Allen and his expiring contract, and now this rumor resurfaces.

To me, if the Wizards are rebuilding, why trade Butler for Howard? He’s 29 — the same age as Butler — and hasn’t been the player this year as he has in years past. He has a team option for next season, so presumably they’d let him walk, because if you can’t build around Butler then you certainly can’t build around Howard.

The right way to start a rebuilding process is to get some good young talent or first round draft picks when trading away stars. Otherwise, it’s just a salary dump. This deal might be appealing to the Wizards because they can try to sell their season ticket holders on the fact that, talent-wise, the trade was pretty even. But really, they’re just treading water, if that.

Like I said, color me confused.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

Where do these rumors come from?

Obviously, rumors and innuendo spread like wildfire on the internet, and at times they quickly become supposed fact. For example, take this gem from Tom Knott of the Washington Times.

The Mavericks are said to be interested in the fifth pick and the prospect of drafting Jordan Hill.

The teams have made nice in the past, most recently in the swap that secured Jamison in 2004. The Mavericks also were kind enough to relieve the Wizards of Juwan Howard in 2001.

The Mavericks apparently are willing to part with either Jason Terry or Josh Howard to sweeten a potential deal. The Mavericks would be obligated to accept an expiring contract of the Wizards, the one belonging to either the Poet or Mike James.

Notice the language…The Mavs “are said to be interested” and “apparently are willing to part” with one of their core players for the #5 pick. Anytime a writer starts throwing phrases like “are said” and words like “apparently” into his piece, he’s probably just spreading a rumor. But did Knott start this rumor? He writes for a Washington paper, so his job is to talk about the Wizards — how would he know what the Mavs want to do? This DIME post references Knott’s article. So does the ESPN rumor section. It appears that Knott is the source.

But when you read what Knott wrote, it’s clear that he is no source at all. This is pure speculation, but he says it as if it’s widely known that the Mavs want to move up and that they’d be willing to give up Jason Terry or Josh Howard. How convenient — the Wizards are in “win now” mode and could really use another wing to complement Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler at off guard.

However, aren’t the Mavs in “win now” mode too? In fact, you could argue that with Dirk Nowitzki’s championship window most definitely closing, that Dallas is further into “win now” territory than the Wizards are. Why would they want to give up Howard or Terry, two important pieces to their championship puzzle? The DIME piece says this would be a good fiscal move for Mark Cuban, but since when has he ever cared about his payroll? Why would he approve a move that is going to set the Mavs back (as this move almost certainly would)? According to Knott, the Mavs are “supposedly” interested in using that #5 pick to draft Jordan Hill, a raw player with a ton of upside. Why would the Mavs trade away a proven wing for a project that plays the same position as their star player? It just doesn’t make any sense.

I am as guilty as the next blogger of kicking around these rumors, but I’m not going to just make something up. And when something sounds dumb, I’ll say so. This one sounds dumb.

So Wizards fans, I may be wrong, but don’t hold your breath hoping to see Josh Howard or Jason Terry in your starting lineup this November. Unless Cuban wants to get rid of Howard’s tendency to get into trouble, there isn’t much in it for him.

Related Posts