These Mavericks are in serious trouble. Despite appalling losses against Detroit, New Jersey and now Philadelphia (where they somehow managed to score only 23 points in the second half, a franchise lose) their record is far from horrible and they're only two games out of first in the West. They have injury issues right now, but there's simply no understanding how this team-even lacking Stackhouse and Harris-struggles against or gets blasted by the likes of New Jersey and Philadelphia. This team has played quality basketball several times throughout the season, but there's no consistency, and it's very distressing to watch them struggle against inferior opponents. Now, I generally hesitate to reach for "intangibles" when it comes to explaining why a team plays the way it does. I think commentators who reach for the metaphors about a team's state of mind usually do so because they're too ignorant or lazy to really understand the game. But watching this team you definitely get the sense that there are some mental struggles going on; one game they're focused, another their not. When they struggle on offense, they resort to jump shots. And at any give time, whoever they may be playing, they will completely lose focus on defense. In other words, they seem to shift back to early 2000s Mavericks, despite the fact that they have a coach that preaches defense, concentration, and attacking the basket. Whatever Avery Johnson's selling at this point, his team isn't buying. I haven't wanted to give any credence to this theory, but now it does seem like the meltdowns against the Heat and the Warriors have scarred this team, perhaps beyond repair. And the only answer to that appears to be a trade that will send several participants to those awful collapses away, and bring some guys in who haven't lost the desire or the will to win.
UPDATE: Today I had a chance to listen to my favorite local sports talk radio station, The Ticket. By sheer coincidence each time I tuned in they were talking Mavs. No on, literally no one, was against a trade that would shake the Mavs up. The fellas on The Ticket are usually moderate to conservative and not prone to knee-jerk reactions, and I find that they usually know what they're talking about, but the only difference between each of the hosts I heard talking was the degree to which a trade should shake this up (and no one was outright opposed to a trade of the caliber necessary to bring someone like Jason Kidd to town, whereas even lat week there was still some equivocation on the idea.) When even these guys are clamoring for a trade, things are bad. Which I already knew, but it's nice to have an opinion confirmed by someone who actually knows what they're talking about.