With the calendar turned to June and the NBA Finals set, it's time to quickly refocus on the NBA…
Mavs' 1-Percent Chance At Paul Near 0 Percent
The Clippers on Sunday reached an agreement in principle to swap an unprotected 2015 first-round draft pick for the rights to hire coach Doc Rivers, who turned his back on his Boston contract to receive a $7-million-a-year deal in LA.
Does the CBA allow a team to trade for a coach? That's been a valid gray-area question during two weeks of drama involving these parties. And now?
Asked and answered.
What the NBA will not allow is a connection with other players in such a deal (apparently, though we still think Chancellor Stern oversees yet another gray area here). So Kevin Garrett – originally part of a bloated swap – is stuck in Boston and won't be joining the Clippers.
THE OFFSHOOT FOR DALLAS
It's not yet official but completely logical: Paul – whose corner claims had nothing to do with the firing of last year's coach, Vinny Del Negro – has everything to do with the pursuit of Doc Rivers. When talks fell through, Paul re-energized them … almost certainly by hinting to the Clippers that the way to keep him from leaving LA via free agency was to secure one of the game's best coaches.
That's now done.
Paul might just announce before July 1 that he's staying with the Clippers (where he was always going to get a five-year max deal as opposed to the four-year contract Dallas or other suitors could offer). Heck, it might be doing Dallas a favor to make that announcement, thus saving Mark Cuban from wasting his courtship time and effort.
If he doesn't make such an announcement? Fine. As we approach the opening of the July 1 free-agency shopping period, Dallas' chance still lingers very near zero percent.
WHAT'S LEFT TO BE DONE?
In Boston, maybe the Celtics are so intent on a strip down that they make Garnett and Rondo and the like available at affordable prices. Dallas – starving, one way or another for a point guard -- can make the appropriate calls.
In LA, the Clippers will prepare to engage in sign-and-trade talks with the likes of Dwight Howard. Yes, the Lakers will be reluctant to ship their stud center across the hallway to their in-city rival. But if Howard wishes to jump LA teams, the Lakers will eventually prefer to take something for him rather than nothing.
And the Dallas Mavericks will push hard for Howard, too … though he's always been a "One-Percent Thing'' around here as well. Oh, and now the Clippers can attempt to lure him to a Paul-led team that allows him to remain in the same city … in the same building?
One-percent suddenly seems too high on Dwight-to-Dallas, too.
Why, I'm often asked, is DB.com so focused on Paul and Dwight -- maybe to the journalistic detriment of focusing on Target No. 3?
Answer: DB.com has been focusing on what the Dallas Mavericks have been focusing on.
Their challenge in assembling plans (and our challenge in creating questions that get answered in ways that move the ball forward): Who else, after Paul and Dwight, should they want to give max to? And if the answer is "nobody'' ... What next-level free agent wants to accept but a piece of the $18-mil pie?
In other words, which guy who as of this writing is visualizing himself as a $16 Million Man is prepared to listen when Cuban explains the plan to pay him and a similarly-minded FA half that amount, so the two of them TOTAL $16 mil?
A continuing reported distaste for the idea of chasing restricted free agents? (A largely bogus media invention, by the way, but suddenly even more ridiculous-looking.)
The expansion of targets from "free agents'' to "guys like Boogie Cousins''? (In "Jaws,'' they were going to need a bigger boat. In Dallas, they are going to need a bigger net.)
I truly believe, as I dig around and don't (yet) get solid enough answers to write a full-blown story on Priority Guy 3, that the Mavs are reluctant to mentally commit big bucks to the next-level-down guys ...
In a cap-smart sense, they should be reluctant.
At the same time, Cuban acutely understands that the natives are restless for action. One of the reasons he talks of "2-Year Plans'' is to buy himself some patience from the mob.
So stay tuned while you understand this: "Breaking stories '' that announce "Dallas likes Ellis' are empty stories. Of COURSE they like him. Hell, at maybe $9 million, they LOVE him.
Now, who thinks Ellis' purpose in opting out of a deal that guaranteed him $11 million is excited to hear Dallas would like to give him $9 million?
That's the challenge with our investigation into the next-level targets. And in a sense, it's Dallas' challenge, too. … especially as their One-Percent Things shrink.
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