Yes, I believe the Mavs made a call about Shaq, but I don't believe they were close or willing to do a deal.
A a couple of reports, one in the Arizona Republic and one in the Chicago Tribune, suggest that the Suns were competing against a Mavs deal featuring Josh Howard. How that makes any sense from a Mavs viewpoint, I have no idea.
That would have given the Mavs this starting lineup:
PG: Devin Harris, SG: Eddie Jones SF: Devean George/Trenton Hassell PF: Dirk Nowitzki C: Shaq.
Anyone like that? Does that make the Mavs more or less dynamic? And beyond this season, what's the impact when Shaq is 36 and 37, making $20 million and, can we presume, constantly battling injuries? Meanwhile, Howard surely will continue to be a 20-point, 8-rebound jump shooter and slasher for 10 more years.
If the Mavs did indeed offer Howard, to me at least, it reeks of desperation to do something.
One thing to understand is that every team has different circumstances. The Suns were dealing with a very sour Shawn Marion, who had asked to be traded before the season. His $17 million contract is up after next season, but he can opt out after this season, which the Suns clearly expected him to do.
So the size of his contract made it easy to match up for Shaq, and since the Suns were not going to re-sign him, instead of getting nothing, they got The Diesel. Makes sense even if it is a huge gameble, alters somewhat how the Suns will have to play with Shaq in, although they will have to figure out salary cap issues the next two seasons.
Shaq would have been an incredible strain on the Mavs' bottom line. Lots of people still like to think of Mark Cuban as a free spender, but that's really not the case. The Mavs have been working hard to get their roster back in line and avoid paying luxury taxes. With Shaq, that would have been impossible and, theoretically, would have made the $40 million owed to Shaq over the next two seasons actually $80 million.
The Mavs, even if offering Howard, who makes $9 million, would have had to thrown in a couple more pieces, possibly Jerry Stackhouse, to make salary work in a trade.
-- Jeff Caplan