The Dallas Mavericks are in a semi-resurgence after winning six of their last nine games. The team is currently on a two-game winning streak but remains fourth from last place in the Western Conference with a 15-28 slate. They would gun for a third straight win as they face the Los Angeles Lakers at home on Saturday night.
While expectations are not high for the Mavericks to enter the playoffs, SB Nation's Mavs Moneyball blog opined that the team will still look to win as many games as they can and that they will intend to keep their current veteran core of Dirk Nowitzki, J.J. Barea, Devin Harris, Dwight Powell, and Yogi Ferrell intact.
However, one player who has been rounding the Mavericks' rumor mill these past few months is fourth-year center Nerlens Noel. The sixth overall pick of the 2013 draft has been struggling with injuries this season, having appeared in only 18 games with averages of 4.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 0.6 blocks in 12.5 minutes per game, which are the lowest numbers of his career so far.
It is evident that Noel has not done anything to give him any value in the current trade market, but one reason why the Mavs are projected to move him before next month's deadline is his current contract status.
Noel, 23, is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. The blog said that Dallas is not expected to let him go for nothing and would "want something of value in return." With his affordable $4.2 million qualifying offer, the report predicted that a new team could "take a chance" on the 23-year-old.
SB Nation's Tim Cato reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers might turn their attention on the Mavericks as the defending Eastern Conference champions currently have a need to "fix" their "broken defense."
The report noted that the Cavs have allowed the second-most points (109.5) per 100 possessions of any NBA team this month. It has translated to the squad losing seven of their last nine assignments, keeping them in the third spot in the East.
Cato envisioned a trade scenario that would send Noel and Wesley Matthews to the Cavs in exchange for Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye, and the highly-coveted 2018 first-rounder via Brooklyn. With the Brooklyn pick involved, Cato said that Dallas would have a hard time rejecting the offer.
At 31-years-old, Matthews will definitely not help make the Cavs' roster younger, but the nine-year veteran would be another three-point shooter that LeBron James could utilize. Matthews is also known as a reliable wing defender, although he has slowed down a bit since returning from the Achilles injury he suffered three seasons ago.