Wizards add league's reigning sixth man
That didn't stop the Dallas Mavericks from making a trade Wednesday they hope will speed up the Lakers' timetable.
League sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein that the Mavericks have agreed to send Antawn Jamison, the newly minted Sixth Man of the Year, to Washington for Thursday's No. 5 overall pick, as well as veterans Jerry Stackhouse and one-time Maverick Christian Laettner.
The Mavericks, sources say, hope to use that No. 5 pick to sweeten the package they can offer the Lakers in exchange for the disgruntled O'Neal, who remains intent on forcing his exit to Texas.
ESPN's David Aldridge reported Thursday that the Mavs have offered their No. 5 pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers in part of a package deal for Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Earlier, ESPN.com's Andy Katz reported that the Mavericks offered their pick to the Boston Celtics for Boston's three first-rounders (Nos. 15, 24, 25) and were rejected.
Dallas, meanwhile, is also attempting to construct additional trades that could include Stackhouse or Laettner. New York is known to have interest in Stackhouse, but early discussions between the teams have stalled, with the Mavericks apparently not interested in reacquiring Dallas native Kurt Thomas.
|What if Mavs keep pick?|
The leaguewide assumption is that the Mavericks will select Russian center Pavel Podkolzine if they still have the No. 5 pick when Thursday's NBA draft commences.
Not necessarily so, according to Mavericks sources.
The preference in the Dallas front office, sources say, is actually Luke Jackson. Although center is clearly the Mavericks' biggest need, questions about Podkolzine's mobility and long-term health have Dallas eyeing Jackson.
Indiana is another elite team after the Oregon forward, according to league sources. Those sources say the Pacers are willing to offer Al Harrington to Chicago in exchange for the No. 7 pick that the Bulls acquired Wednesday from Phoenix, with the idea of drafting Jackson at No. 7.
- Marc Stein
Stein reported late Tuesday that, according to Lakers sources, L.A. refuses to deal O'Neal to its Western Conference rival unless Dallas makes Dirk Nowitzki available. Mavericks sources maintain that Nowitzki remains off-limits, even though the Mavericks know O'Neal considers them his No. 1 choice for a new team.
It's believed that Dallas, in hopes of constructing a deal to tempt L.A. without including Nowitzki, plans to add the No. 5 pick to an offer that could also include two former All-Stars -- point guard Steve Nash (via sign-and-trade) and forward Antoine Walker (who has just one year left on his contract) -- and one or two promising rookies (Josh Howard and Marquis Daniels).
If the Lakers do eventually consent to trade O'Neal, in the wake of his demand for a trade last week, their goal would be injecting their roster with quality youth and depth to surround a re-signed Kobe Bryant. Dallas' contention is that no club has more options to satisfy L.A.'s needs.
It's unlikely the Lakers would be interested in Stackhouse, who is due $7 million next season, $7.5 million the following year and $8 million after that.
If the Mavericks can't get the Lakers to budge on their Nowitzki-or-nada stance, the trade still gives them a shot at acquiring a new center, since Dallas might consider Pavel Podkolzine, the 7-5 mystery from Russia, with the No. 5 pick. The Mavericks would also have two expiring contracts (Walker's and Laettner's) to peddle in future deals between now and next February's trade deadline.
Dallas did not previously have a first-round pick in the draft, having traded it last summer to Boston in the deal forWalker.
Jamison's appeal to the Wizards is obvious. Instead of gambling on more youth at No. 5 to add to a roster already lacking experience, Washington gets an established frontcourt scorer who should contend for an All-Star spot in the East after accepting a bench role without complaint in Dallas.
The Wizards had made it clear they weren't enamored with any of their choices at the top of the draft. Taking Jamison, a proven scorer over his six-year career in Dallas and Golden State, is a much safer move, even if he is owed nearly $58 million over the next four years.
For the Mavericks, all moves for the immediate future will be viewed as positioning for a prospective trade for O'Neal.
Other than the pick/Podkolzine aspect, the benefit of getting Laettner is that he's going into the last year of his contract, like Walker. That makes them commodities because their salaries -- a combined $20.8 million -- would open huge cap room next summer.
Their combined salaries put Dallas much closer to the $23.5 million needed to get within the league-mandated 15 percent of O'Neal's $27.7 million price tag.
Stackhouse has averaged 21 points per game over his nine-year career, but he played only 26 games last season because of injuries, mainly to his right knee.
This is the second time the Mavs have acquired Laettner. He played 53 games in the 2000-01 season, then was dealt to Washington in an eight-player trade that brought Juwan Howard to Dallas.
Dallas acquired Jamison last summer expecting to pair him at forward with Nowitzki, then bumped him to the bench when Walker arrived during training camp. He accepted the demotion and savored the team's success as he made the playoffs for the first time.
He was rewarded by earning the league's Sixth Man award, but made it clear he wanted to be a starter next season. Trading Walker, which the Mavs are certainly trying to do, would have cleared a spot for him, but Dallas apparently felt this deal moves them closer to their ultimate goal of O'Neal.
For Jamison, going to another losing team will certainly diminish the fact he'll be starting again. The Wizards haven't made the playoffs since 1997 and haven't won a postseason game since 1988.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.