The Mavs' draft took an unpredicted turn Thursday when the Mavs traded down, packaging their pick at 17 with Kaleena Azubuike and getting Cleveland's pick at 24, plus two second-rounders (overall picks 33 and 34).
The pre-draft expectation was for the Mavs to pick at 17 or make a deal to move up, but apparently the players they were targeting in either of those scenarios were not there when the time came.
However, looking closely at details in the deal with Cleveland would indicate that it was already under serious consideration before the draft began, as perhaps a fall-back plan if they weren't wowed by other options. Why? Cap space and guaranteed money.
If the Mavs had kept their pick and Azubuike, their cap hit during free agency for the pair would have totaled $2,372,109. Instead they'll be on the hook for the pick at 24 and an empty roster slot, which totals $1,437,204, yielding a savings of $934,905.
While that amount of savings may seem insignificant in the NBA world of multi-million dollar deals and aggregate team payrolls that commonly exceed $60 million, in this case it's not. What was accomplished was to remove the last uncertain cap hurdle to have room for a max salary for Deron Williams.
It's been clear that the Mavs had previously penciled in a trade of Lamar Odom (with no salary coming back in return), and an amnesty waiver (or perhaps a trade with no salary coming back in return) of Marion or Haywood, in order to clear the needed cap space. However, if the salary cap for 2012-13 stayed at the lowest number possible of $58.044M, that wasn't going to yield quite enough room.
Now, if their proposed trade of Odom is consummated, they will be an amnesty move away from having all the cap room they need - which means that they have the certainty of having enough cap room. While we at DB.com believe they would be better off to delay the Odom trade until July and try to use it as part of a sign-and-trade for D-Will, even in that scenario it is necessary to have the cap room just in case Brooklyn refuses.
These aren't just our thoughts, though; as Mavs execs prepare to be the "troops on the ground'' in wheeling and dealing (Cuban is planning to be in LA, and not just to film some "Shark Tank"), what you are reading here represents the thoughts of the front office.
Assuming an Odom trade and an amnesty of Haywood, we now project that the Mavs cap will look like this as they pursue D-Will, whose max salary would be $17,177,795.
Cap charges that would be retained with a signing of D-Will
Nowitzki - 20,907,128
Marion - 8,396,364
Carter - 3,090,000
Beaubois - 2,227,333
Jones - 1,276,560
Wright - 992,680
Cap hold for pick 24 (until signed) - 993,600
Cap hold for Mahinmi (until signed) - 854,389
4 cap holds for empty roster slots at 473,604 each - 1,894,416
TOTAL - 40,632,170
Signing room available with 58.044M cap - 17,411,530
Additional cap charges/assets that would exist, but that can be removed procedurally if D-Will is ready to sign as a free agent
Haywood (amnesty) - 8,349,000
Bird rights cap hold for JET - 16,737,000
Bird rights cap hold for Kidd - 15,181,500
Veteran free agent cap hold for Yi - 854,389
Veteran free agent cap hold for West - 854,389
Veteran free agent cap hold for Cardinal - 854,389
Mid-level exception - 5,000,000
Bi-annual exception - 1,957,000
Trade exception (Chandler) - 4,207,838
Trade exception (Brewer) - 3,059,000
Trade exception (Fernandez) - 2,180,443
Trade exception (Azubuike) - 992,680
Trade exception (Odom trade, assumed) - 8,200,000
If we figure the Mavs sign D-Will their roster for 2012-13 is taking shape. Much can change during free agency, but without explanation on the details, here's an early look at the roster we might see considering their CBA limits:
C/PF- Nowitzki, Wright, Mahinmi, #33 pick James, $2.575M exception signee, minimum signee
SF - Marion, Carter, #34 pick Crowder
SG - Roddy, West, #24 pick Cunningham
PG - D-Will, Kidd, Jones
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