It turns out that there is a conceivable downside to the Mavs’ trade of Josh Howard, Drew Gooden, James Singleton, and Quinton Ross for the Wizards’ Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood, and DeShawn Stevenson: the three newest Mavericks will now play four games in five nights as they scramble to learn plays, adjust to teammates, and win over a new fan base.
Oh, and to make matters even more complicated? Butler, Haywood, and Stevenson weren’t even allowed to practice yesterday due to some “paperwork stuff,” according to Mavs’ head coach Rick Carlisle. That means that their first full-contact Maverick experiences will come tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team that rode into the All-Star break with a six-game win streak. Then the Mavs will play the Phoenix Suns tomorrow before visiting Orlando on Friday, and next week they’ll face off against the Los Angeles Lakers and the Atlanta Hawks.
It’s hardly an ideal schedule to ease new players into the fold (especially when considering the travel schedule and the fact that two of them are expected to be starters), but it’s the price you pay for making a late season steal. On paper, Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban have seriously upgraded their talent level at the two positions most troubling to the Mavs this season: shooting guard and center. But Rick Carlisle will have to match their wizardry if Dallas is to truly contend in the West, as having the talent to challenge the Lakers, Nuggets, and Jazz is one thing, but doing it is something else entirely.