The Dallas Mavericks' draft is about Shane Larkin on the surface. And that's part of it, as is cap-carving.
Did the Mavs save some cap room from their moves Thursday? From one angle they clearly did, with the trading down and by moving Jared Cunningham to Atlanta. Compared to where they would have been had they kept the 13th pick and used it on a player for their roster this season, the savings was about $1.1M. (Pick 13 = - $1.655M, Pick 18 = + $1.28M, Cunningham = - $1.21M, Empty roster charge (1) = +$0.49M)
But the news isn’t as rosy as we wish. When we look at our working cap projections for the summer, our total actually went up a hair. Before the draft we calculated that if they wanted to sign Dwight Howard they would need to find another $2.8M in cap room to offer him a max deal. Now, the number is almost $2.9M.
Why? In every calculation, the working assumption (here and elsewhere) has always been that the Mavs would sell their pick, trade it (or trade the player picked), or use it on a player to be stashed overseas. So in projecting where they would be on July 10, a cap hit for that pick never made sense to include, just like we’ve never included a cap hit for B James or Akognon under the assumption that the Mavs would waive them if they needed to do so.
Now, of course, we do have a pick to include after all (#19). But it’s addition has been offset by the removal of Cunningham’s salary, and in total we have about the equivalent of “avoid a cap hit for pick 13.” To be precise, they’ve added $72,400 to the cap room we’ve been saying they need to find.
Of course, they didn’t add the cost of the 13th pick onto the existing roster, as they could have done. Had they done that, they would have been adding a net +$1.165M, so we certainly give credit for that.
Here are the numbers after the draft was over, for an up-to-date look at the Mavs' quest for cap room.
1 THE CONTRACTS
Guaranteed contracts (4) 36,007,049
Draft pick (1) 1,280,800
Empty roster slots (7@490,180) 3,431,260
TOTAL - 40,719,109
B James and Akognon have non-guaranteed deals, so we haven’t counted them. If needed they could be waived with no cap hit.
2 THE SPENDING ROOM
CAP ROOM (58.5M cap) - 17,780,891
MAX SALARY - Howard 20,513,178 ...Paul 18,668,430
3 THE WORK LEFT IF A BIG FISH WANTS TO SIGN FOR THE MAX
If the cap lands at 58.5M, to sign Howard the Mavs would have to move one of the following (with no return salary):
(b) Carter and Crowder
(c) Carter and Larkin
If the cap lands at 58.5M, to sign Paul to a max deal the Mavs would have to move one of the following (with no return salary):
(c) Crowder and Larkin
That could be done to another non-LA team, or perhaps in a sign-and-trade with the selected player(s) going to the LA team in question.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Whether we look at it as a savings of $1.1 million extra that could have been spent, or a break-even in the projection of whether they are in cap room, the Mavs still came out ahead. What they did here was swap a $1.2 million cap commitment from a guy they decided cannot play, into a guy who they hope can -- maybe a Barea-play-alike. That makes it good no matter how you look at the numbers.