In the Cheap Seats: It's now or never for Mavs

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY, News-Telegram Sports Writer

Feb. 17, 2008 - The Dallas Mavericks braintrust must figure it's now or never when it comes to winning a championship.

That has to be the reasoning for trying to make the trade to acquire Jason Kidd plus a promising guard and a spare part in return for Devin Harris, a solid defensive center, a spare part and two first round draft picks.

The trade immediately makes the Mavericks a better team. There are critics who question that, but Kidd right now is a better all-around player than Harris. He also has the court leadership, confidence and savvy that Harris just hasn't acquired yet.

The problem is, if the Mavs make the trade, then they must win a championship in the next couple of years or their window will be closed. In two years, Kidd will be 37, Dirk Nowitzki will be 31, Jerry Stackhouse will probably be retired, and the Mavericks will have no resource on which to draw in younger players.

If the trade goes through, the Mavericks will send away Mo Ager, their No. 1 pick from two years ago, plus their first-round selections in 2008 and 2010. The only young players left on the team will be power forward Nick Fazekas, who has been in the D-League all year as a rookie, and diminutive point guard J.J. Barea.

Whether either of them will ever be more than a role player is uncertain. But, without any young players on the roster and no draft help, the Mavericks in two years could certainly resemble the Miami Heat. Remember the Heat? They won the NBA championship two seasons ago - now they have the worst record in the league, having won just nine games and lost 42.

The question is, can the Mavericks win a championship if they acquire Kidd?

There's no sure answer for it. Kidd is averaging 11.3 points per game this year (3 points less than Harris), but it's the other things that he does that makes him so valuable. He is also averaging 8.1 rebounds (2.3 for Harris), 10.4 assists (5.3 for Harris) and 1.5 steals (1.4 for Harris). Kidd has 100 triple-doubles in his career and runs the point better than Harris right now.

But, in two years, who will be the better player? We don't know.

The Mavericks would also pick up 29-year-old reserve power forward Malik Allen (6-10, 255), who averages 5.4 points and 2.7 rebounds in 15 minutes a game, and 23-year-old guard Antoine Wright (6-7, 215), who averages 7.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 25 minutes. Interesting players, but nothing to get too excited about.

The deal may never go through since the Mavericks' Devean George exercised his no-trade clause. If it doesn't, then the Mavs' season would appear to be sunk. I don't think the Mavericks front office can tell one-third of their roster they are no longer wanted, then send them out there to win games for them.

So, the Mavericks are in a corner when it comes to trade. Either make it or the year is wasted. If they do make it, their future may be wasted.

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