Considering the way Josh Howard had fallen out of favor and how Drew Gooden has never been more than a flavor of the month at any of his NBA stops, an argument could be made that Dallas made its move for Caron Butler and Brandan Haywood with the present in mind.
Arguably, the Mavericks are stronger now that all parties have signed off on the deal that sends Howard, Gooden, Quinton Ross and James Singleton to Washington for Butler, Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson.
But working from the self-propagated perspective the Mark Cuban is a genius, this is a move that could be just as much about the future.
Committed to $83 million in payroll for 2010-11 before this deal, Dallas never was going to be part of the 2010 free-agent space race.
Instead, Dallas has added an additional chip it can put in play this coming summer, just in case Chris Bosh decides a homecoming wouldn’t be such a bad thing, after all.
Had Dallas attempted to work out a sign-and-trade with either Howard, assuming his team option would not have been picked up in advance, or Gooden, either could have said, ‘Toronto or Memphis? Nah, no deal.”
But now, should the Mavericks try to make a move for Bosh or, say, Rudy Gay, Butler is essentially held hostage on any sort of sign-and-trade, with another year left on his contract. If the Mavericks tell him he is going somewhere, with the additional year on his contract, he has to go.
And by gaining Haywood’s Bird Rights, it means Erik Dampier could be more in play than ever.
Plus, with Butler around, Shawn Marion could yet again find himself on the move, which seemingly has become an annual occurrence.
While the rest of the league seemingly is cashing out when it comes to issues such as the luxury tax, Cuban has upped the ante.
No, Dallas won’t have the cap space of a Miami, New Jersey or New York next summer.
But it will have a spot at the same table, with plenty of assets to put into play.
Ira Winderman writes regularly for NBCSports.com and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.