One of the most celebrated trades in Mavericks history was taken out for a test spin Tuesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder. And for the first quarter, I was spellbound as Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood reigned down dunks on the great Kevin Durant and his talented supporting cast.
Unfortunately, the spirit of the pre-trade Mavs returned for the final three quarters, leading to yet another loss to a team jockeying for playoff position in the Western Conference. Not even a panicky guy like myself would declare this a bad trade after one evening, but the problem is that the Mavs don't have a lot of time to right the ship.
This trade was a lot more fun to discuss when we didn't have to be bothered by actual games. One of my NBA mentors, ESPN.com's Marc Stein, declared the seven-player deal a runaway success for the Mavs and he was supported by voices from across the nation and North Texas. When Kobe Bryant gave the deal a favorable review, local reporters rushed to their blogs and Twitter accounts to spread the gospel.
Unfortunately, Dallas couldn't have drawn a worse matchup than the Thunder on Tuesday. They are not only extremely talented, but I've estimated the average age of their starting five to be 19.6.
Early on, Haywood brought an energy to the floor we haven't seen since Kurt Nimphius ruled the Reunion hardwood. This is a man who has won at least three fistfights with former Wizards center Etan Thomas. And as my friends Ben and Skin reported on their new 103.3 FM ESPN radio show, "The Ben & Skin Show," Haywood once ripped one of Thomas' dreadlocks from his head during a heated battle.
We haven't seen that type of altercation around here since La La showed up at the AAC for a playoff game against the Nuggets last year. Erick Dampier has had his moments here in Dallas, but he's never dislodged another man's dreadlock during a practice session.
In an unrelated note, Dampier appeared to lose one of his fingers during last night's 99-86 loss to the Thunder. But again, it's too early to pass judgment on this trade -- unless you're part of an afternoon radio show in the area.
Honestly, I came away somewhat impressed with our new friends from the East Coast. When Butler misses 12-of-16 shots, he does it with more of a flair than Jet Terry. At least he's attempting to make layups over 7-footers instead of clanging jump shots from 22 feet.
Rick Carlisle, who made brief eye contact with his three new players before tipoff, is asking for our patience. And I plan on showing extreme patience. After all, we've been told that Jason Kidd could basically make a decent Kiwanis club player into a star in this league. Sure, he hasn't exactly taken his teammates to the next level over the past two years. But that's their fault for not realizing Kidd's greatness and his unselfishness in passing up wide-open layups so that he can feed Damp the ball 17 feet away from the basket.
I say we give this trade a little room to breathe before we pass jugment. I'm planning to wait until after tonight's game against the Suns.
At that point, we shoud finally have some clarity.