DONUT 1: How transactions get 'undone' ...
It is not difficult to envision how the Dallas Mavericks found themselves unplugging and re-plugging contracts and transactions and doctor's visits as last week turned into this week.
Let's take a stab at envisioning it ... as if we are flies on the wall of the Mavs' AAC offices:
DONUT 2: Monta in the fold ...
Even while already having agreed to deals with veteran guards Jose Calderon, Devin Harris and Wayne Ellington, the Mavs negotiate a deal with Monta Ellis. Why? They see the market shrinking on him. "Do The Mavs Like Monta Ellis?'' is a question they've always answered in the affirmative ... if the price was right. The sort of deal Dallas hoped for (like last year's Mayo deal in the sense of getting a guy for half his former market value) isn't quite there. But the Mavs do need a second scorer and Monta, at 19 points per game, is that.
The deal is agreed to. It's a three-year contract, a good thing because Dallas sees Monta as an asset both on the court and in franchise-building. But the guaranteed salary isn't locked in yet. The Mavs are leaving themselves some "unfinished'' issues due to the moving parts still in play.
DONUT 3: Which came first? ...
The official inking of Monta works best after the official inking of Devin Harris, because then the Mavs can consider a sign-and-trade with the remainder of the cap space, effectively "expanding" that cap space by 150 percent in the process, which would allow them to roll Samuel Dalembert into the deal.
DONUT 4: Settling on Dalembert ...
The Mavs didn't get Dwight and the Mavs didn't like Andrew Bynum and now they need the next-best serviceable guy.
That guy is Samuel Dalembert, who has settled in at age 32 as a six-points/six-rebounds-a-game center.
Is he a difference-maker? A starting center on a true contender? A stop-gap Band-Aid?
Even as Dallas courts him and hopes for him and comes to grips with the Dalembert realities, they must continue to explore trading for a better center. They keep an eye on Omer Asik in Houston. They do the same with long-time favorite Marcin Gortat in Phoenix, too, though because rookie Alex Len isn't healthy, the Suns probably aren't parting with Gortat anytime soon.
So Dalembert is the target. Dallas explores the avenues available to sign him.
DONUT 5: On the line ...
So the Mavs have Monta on one line ... Dalembert's people on another ... The Bucks (who are getting Mayo and are the previous employers of both Ellis and Dalembert) on a third line ...
Meanwhile, they are keeping tabs on and negotiating with the agent for Brandan Wright. They have Early Bird Rights on B-Wright, and there is a mutual feeling of wanting him back.
The building is buzzing with activity. Outside the Mavs AAC offices, the Summer League team, featuring first-round rookie Shane Larkin, is practicing before it heads to Las Vegas.
Oh, and Devin is heading into the AAC office as well.
DONUT 6: In limps Devin ...
The Mavs bring in Devin to sign his deal and to undergo his physical and -- standard-operating-procedure stuff -- and discover the toe problem. This is bad news for Devin's wallet, his toe and the roster.
The Mavs have to scrap the Devin deal for now, until his toe is well. Those things can be tricky. Much is involved. Too much iffiness to ignore the doctor's findings, and because of Devin's infamous fragility, there is really no guarantee of how soon he'll be able to play.
The Mavs' relationship with Devin is terrific. They likely tell him how much they want to salvage this situation as soon at it is salvageable.
DONUT 7: The good news ...
Yes, this is bad news for Devin's wallet, his toe and the roster. "Iffiness'' all around.
But in terms of all the aforementioned "unfinished issues due to the moving parts still in play,'' the Mavs catch a break of sorts.
First, frankly, Monta Ellis is arguably a better fit as a starting 2-guard than Devin Harris is. This leads to some conspiracy-theorist speculation outside the building that the timing of Devin's injured toe is terribly convenient.
Of course, Devin Harris' love for the Mavs doesn't extend that far. He's not going to go along with faking an injury that costs him a guaranteed $9 million over three years.
So it's a coincidence. A maybe serendipitous coincidence.
DONUT 8: Salary-Cap Serendipity ...
Suddenly, the Mavs now have Devin's $3 mil of space back in their pockets. Meaning? They can sign both Ellis and Dalembert without having to coordinate a sign-and-trade with the Bucks.
The Mavs had ways to do the sign-and-trade with the Bucks; a simple formula involved Ellis-and-Dalembert in exchange for O.J. Mayo and pieces along the lines of Josh Akognon.
The simple math: Mayo represents $8.2 million going out, Akognon $800,000. That's $9 million out. Times 150 percent means that $13.5 million can come back to Dallas. If Monta's deal starts at, say, $9 million, that leaves $4.5 million to give to Dalembert.
That's not to say those are the exact starting salaries for the two ex-Bucks-to-be. We're just illustrating what adds up to fitting in the $13.5-million bag.
DONUT 9: Un-complicating things ...
But the unplugging of Devin giving Dallas that unexpected $3 mil of room un-complicates matters.
And it gives the Mavs options.
They can get back on those phones, because it frees them to look at other trade choices via that theoretical sign-and-trade room. They can sign Dalembert outright, and do it first, say, for the $3 mil previously set aside for Devin. Then they might use the 150 percent on the rest of the cap space in a Mayo-for-Ellis sign-and-trade.
Doing it that way gives the Mavs $4-to-6 million of room (depending on what Monta's starting salary is) to take back another player from elsewhere, if they can find someone that makes sense -- and, as we are seeing them doing in these deals as they revert back to the talent-acquisition model that got them to 50X11 and a title, someone who is not just plugging a hole on the court but also serving as an organizational asset.
DONUT 10: Follow the Mavs on Twitter ...
Follow the Mavs on Twitter: Mike Fisher, David Lord and
Michael Dugat keep you up-to-the-minute informed on all things Mavs!
DONUT 11: O.J. outright ...
But on Saturday morning, the Bucks announce the outright signing of Mayo, meaning Monta will come to Dallas without any sign-and-trade ties.
And maybe it's a deal that can start at $8 million, making him all the more attractive (and all the more convenient a fit.
Here are our Mavs' Salary Cap calculations (after renouncing cap holds and exceptions as expected):
1 Nowitzki 22,721,381
2 Marion 9,316,796
3 Calderon 6,800,000-ish
4 Carter 3,180,000
5 Larkin rights 1,280,800
6 Crowder 788,872
7 Mekel 490,180
8 Early Bird rights - Wright ...884,293
9 B James 788,872 (Non-guaranteed)
10 Akognon 788,872 (Non-guaranteed)
11 Empty roster slot 490,180 (Ledo if he makes the team)
12 Empty roster slot 490,180
13 Ellington (Room MLE 2,652,000? or could he be signed with cap room now?)
14 Minimum salary player if they have no more cap room
15 Minimum salary player if they have no more cap room
(BJames and Akognon have non-guaranteed deals, so they can be waived with no cap hit; doing so would increase the Mavs' cap by $298,692 for each, or $597,384 for both.)
CURRENT TOTAL - $48,020,426-ish
The cap is at $58,679,000, leaving Dallas with Cap Room of 10,658,574-ish.
The next bit of juggling: Ellis is penciled in for at least $8 million of that available cap room; how close to $8 mil can Dallas keep it? Is Ellington the Room-MLE guy? Is Dalembert willing to be squeezed into what's left? Oh, and you will notice, the interest in Greg Oden must mean a multi-year but minimum-wage deal, unless the Mavs want to dump other assets or goals to make the room. (We've got the scoop on Dallas' interest in Oden here.)
Is there a way to end up with newcomers Ellis + Dalembert + Ellington ... while also bringing back Wright + Brand ... and maybe even starting anew with Devin?
There is. It depends on what each guy will eventually settle for, but theoretically, Dallas could use its remaining $10.6M in cap room thusly:
*Ellis gets $8M carved from cap space.
*Dalembert gets $2.6M carved from cap space.
*Brand gets the vet minimum (one year) at $1.4M - a minimum exception.
*Wright gets, say, $3.5M using the Early Bird exception.
*Ellington gets $2.6M from the Room-MLE.
*Harris gets the vet minimum (one year) at $1.3M - a minimum exception.
It can all fit. (With Oden in place of one of the above, if both parties agree.)
UPDATE: Brand is signing with the Hawks. Could be a "loss'' for the Mavs -- or a signal that they've prioritized elsewhere.
DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
What you see if you are a fly on the Mavs' AAC wall is a frenetic time. Contracts and transactions are getting done and un-done. Agents and coaches and players and doctors are in the mix. Somebody brings up the name of Ron Artest (in the form of a post-Amnesty claim, thus not requiring any room to be cleared as would've been the case with an Amnesty claim on Metta) and it is quickly shut down.
And just when you think there is time to breathe, time to gather, time for the fly on the wall to fly away ...
The Mavs AAC office is informed that just outside its doors, out there on the gym floor, rookie first-round pick Shane Larkin has suffered a broken ankle during a practice and could miss three months.
And more must be done and un-done.