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Hamilton to Dallas?

Um, maybe. After the Altman-esque All-star Saturday, I thought we all could use a reason to get drunk and surly.

Today, the Dallas Mavericks and Washington Wizards announced a seven player deal that will send Josh Howard to the Wizards in exchange for Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood. Drew Gooden and some other guys are in it for numbers reasons, but that is the gist of the deal.

On it's face, a Howard for Butler swap doesn't change the picture much, and even the inclusion of Haywood doesn't improve Dallas' chances of getting out of the West. That's where Detroit comes in.

For months, Dallas has seemed a likely trade partner should Detroit make the decision to move Rip Hamilton. The Mavericks have a hole at the two, and what essentially amounts to a perfect fit expiring contract in Erick Dampier. They also have a closing window of opportunity with their core of Dirk and the Jasons, and an owner who is willing to spend money during a recession.

Alas, in addition to having a nice contract, Dampier happens to be a valuable player. Trading him for Hamilton would have left an even larger gap in the front court. Now Dallas has Haywood to fill the gap, and with better defense to boot.

This has all the hallmarks of an "other shoe to drop" trade. As it stands, the Mavs are doubled up at the Center position. The trade was made early enough that there is some breathing room for negotiations.

Hamilton hasn't played particularly well this year, but, then, neither has Butler. If Cuban wants to win a championship with this squad, he is going to have to take a risk.

The Mavericks are solid enough that Hamilton could ease back from the injuries that still seem to be plaguing him, saving his best work for the playoffs. Hamilton's playoff experience has to be alluring to a team looking to get over the hump.

As it stands, acquiring Hamilton might be the last big play Cuban has left. He could make a push for Andre Iguodala, but that would mean taking on Dalembert's contract, which makes it about $30 million more for Cuban to deal with them, even if the two sides can Memphis away the contract discrepancies. They could pursue Ray Allen, but what do they have that the Celtics need?

Of course, any number of things could happen. Having spent money to get today's trade done, Cuban might be tightening his purse. Another team could step in to offer a star player for nothing. Joe Dumars might ask for too much (anything beyond Dampier and a first rounder is too much, and even the latter should result in a blinking match) or decide he wants to (ugh) give the existing team time to gel.

But, from a Pistons perspective, this is certainly the most eventful news of all-star weekend, and something to think about as we watch a second straight night of missed windmill dunks.