Portfolio Review: The Dallas Mavericks are an interesting defending champion in that while they are technically defending their title, they are not doing so wholeheartedly. Yes, so long as they have Dirk Nowitzki operating near peak form and a set of versatile role players that play their role they will be a tough out.
But so much of what they did last summer is geared towards what they hope to do next summer. The Mavericks hope to land one or two big name free agents next summer to set themselves up for the next few years. Any transactions they make this year will be done with their cap space and future in mind, not with competing this year. If they can land a deal that satisfies both (like a player on an expiring contract), so be it.
Prime assets: Shawn Marion is the piece the Mavericks would like to move most, preferably after the season. He is still a versatile contributor on a playoff team, and as much as the Mavericks would value him for this playoff run, they're just as interested in getting his salary off the books so they have enough room to sign two max free agents. If a deal comes up offering a rotation player with salary relief, do they pull the trigger?
Other than that, Rodrigue Beaubois represents the lone intriguing young talent they have. He is still on his rookie contract so he would have to be packaged with a veteran on a short contract to get full value in return, but the Mavericks have plenty of those.
Worthless stock: Brendan Haywood is the other player holding up a large chunk of the salary cap space the Mavericks would like to use this summer. As much as they would prefer to move him, and while he is a serviceable center, the biggest value Haywood has comes from amnestying him–a value that goes out the window in a trade.
The rest: Lamar Odom is on the last year of his contract and when right he makes the Mavericks an intriguing matchup problem, which should appeal to both creating cap space and defending their title. The same goes for Jason Kidd and Jason Terry. The rest is irrelevant interchangeable pieces that the Mavericks are taking a quick look at while looking towards next season.