Even so little as 12 months ago, who would’ve thought we’d be starting an edition of Smack talking about J.J. Barea? He’s a big part of the story, but so is Tyson Chandler and Caron Butler. The plot of it all: the Dallas Mavericks are breaking up the defending NBA champions. They haven’t had a shot yet to defend what they won so amazingly last summer, and here we are, with the once-reckless Mark Cuban now a part of this new age NBA where superstars team up together, and Cubes doesn’t overpay for big centers coming off career years. It’s too bad for Mavs fans that it’s looking like the one time he wants to be careful is the one time they really need his wallet. Chandler is getting love from virtually everyone, and will be overpaid at some point in the next few weeks. Take that to the bank. Butler is in a similar position, and while his dollar cost won’t be too high, Dallas figures to let him walk as well. Barea says he isn’t optimistic about coming back either, not with the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and Sacramento Kings all looking to sign him. They’re probably going to even lose DeShawn Stevenson, although that one might not be such a bad thing. Cuban’s whole goal behind this, insiders say, is to get below the cap for next summer with an aim to grab one of 2012’s three major free agents. With Deron Williams being a Dallas native, the roots are there for a nice partnership. In a few years, this might look like the stroke of a genius. But for now, Barea just doesn’t get it … So pretty much everyone is untouchable at this point huh? Marc Stein tweeted Stephen Curry is being told by everyone in the Warrior organization that he can get comfortable. He’s not going anywhere. Ditto for Eric Gordon, who was told he definitely won’t be involved in any trades in the next week or so, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. That’s crazy because we keep hearing from multiple people that GM Dell Demps and the rest of the New Orleans’ front office want to get this media saga over with as soon as possible. Dragging it on like Denver did last season is not an option for them. Reports earlier this week said to expect a decision on Chris Paul to happen by Friday. We’re having a hard time believing it’ll happen that quickly. Take away those two teams, and we’re left with perhaps the Lakers and Celtics, two old-time rivals gutting it out for one last showdown to get the best point guard in the game … Meanwhile, Dwight Howard met with Magic officials on Monday and told them he actually would like to stay in Orlando and will give them every opportunity to keep him there. He said he needs help, and wants them to bring in some more talent like Andre Iguodala, Monta Ellis or – the first guy the Magic should go after – Howard’s longtime friend, Josh Smith. That’s a temporary sigh of relief for Orlando fans. The problem is Howard’s basically saying “I’ll give you the chance to build me a title contender. Anything less and I could be gone.” With a bunch of bloated contracts, what exactly can the Magic give anyone? … Keep reading to hear about signings involving Jamal Crawford, Chuck Hayes and Shane Battier …
The dominoes are already beginning to fall with training camps right around the corner. Yesterday, we saw that Richard Jefferson was on his way out in San Antonio (amnesty clause) and Tracy McGrady was set to join Atlanta. The Jefferson thing is cool if you’re a team in need of another wing player, but don’t expect to be getting the guy who used to put up big numbers in New Jersey. It’s probably not just us, but what he was doing in San Antonio – or what he wasn’t doing – was a big warning sign. As we mentioned earlier, Caron Butler has already been out there to see about the opportunity. But the real conversation starter is T-Mac – a Dime and fan favorite – going to Atlanta for a veteran minimum. The Hawks have second round issues, and knowing Tracy’s luck, this’ll be the year they don’t even get out of the first. Either way, do you think this is only backup in case Jamal Crawford leaves? Or is this a sign Crossover is out? … The long, drawn-out, arduous journey of the Chicago Bulls search for a two guard might finally be coming to an end. They want Crawford. JC wants them. According to HOOPSWORLD, the Bulls are trying to dangle Ronnie Brewer and one other unnamed player in a sign-n-trade to get that coveted extra scoring punch. If it doesn’t work out, Crawford will go with any number of teams – outside of perhaps Indiana – who have a ton of money to offer but very few wins … Marc Stein reports that Sacramento has offered a four-year $20 million deal to Chuck Hayes, and they’re optimistic the former Rocket will accept. Why couldn’t the Chuck Wagon stay in Houston? Putting him on a terrible squad just takes away from everything he does well … And for those of you who hate the Heat, don’t turn on the TV today. Rich Bucher is tweeting that Shane Battier could be signing with the league villains as early as sometime today … An Israeli study published in the journal Nature Communications recently tried to debunk the myth of the “hot hand.” Basically, what they found was after a made shot, a player was more likely to shoot the same shot a second time than if he had missed, and that he was no more likely to hit it either way. That doesn’t sound terribly convincing. We just thought it was funny they focused mainly on Kobe Bryant. Any Laker fan will tell you that any time Bryant makes even two threes in a row, the next time he gets it out there, you might as well just book the shot attempt and start running back the other way … 50 Cent is signing DJ Pauly D to his new record label, G-Note Records. We’re guaranteeing this dude will be almost as annoying as Tony Yayo (once thought to be an impossibility) … And did you see Washington’s new court? Almost as hot as their jerseys … We’re out like RJ.
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