The Dallas Mavericks, while still hoping to convince the Los Angeles Lakers to send them Shaquille O'Neal, have completed a trade on the eve of the
NBA draft that could have additional significance.
The Mavericks, according to league sources, have acquired the No. 5 overall pick in Thursday's draft from Washington as part of a package that
features Antawn Jamison, the newly minted Sixth Man of the Year, as the prize catch for the Wizards.
The Wizards also will send Christian Laettner and Jerry Stackhouse to the Mavericks in the deal.
Sources say the Mavericks hope to use the No. 5 pick to sweeten the package they can offer the Lakers in exchange for the disgruntled O'Neal. It is
also possible, sources say, that the Mavericks will pursue additional trades that include Laettner and/or Stackhouse.
It is not known when the trade will be announced.
L.A. refuses to deal O'Neal to their Western Conference rival unless Dallas makes Dirk Nowitzki available. Mavericks sources maintain that Nowitzki
remains off-limits, but the prospect of adding the No. 5 pick to a package that could include point guard Steve Nash (via sign-and-trade), Antoine
Walker (who has just one year left on his contract) and promising rookie Josh Howard should at least get the Lakers' attention.
If the Lakers do eventually consent to trade O'Neal, in the wake of Shaq's demand for a trade last week, their goal would be injecting their roster
with quality youth and depth to surround Kobe Bryant.
If the Mavericks can't swing a subsequent deal for the No. 5 pick, they will undoubtedly weigh the merits of drafting Pavel Podkolzine, the 7-foot-5
center from Russia.
Jamison's appeal to the Wizards is obvious. Instead of gambling on more youth at No. 5 with an inexperienced roster already, Washington gets an
established frontcourt scorer who should contend for an All-Star spot in the East after accepting a bench role without complaint in Dallas.