Outside the Box: Guaranteed Surprises

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on June 11, 2013 under Commentary | Read the First Comment

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This week, The Two Man Game will start looking at what the Mavs could do as another pivotal summer is upon them. Mark Cuban has said there are different ways or “permutations” to ensure the Mavs won’t have a failure of a summer if they are unable to land a big fish acquisition.

Dirk Nowitzki said Cuban is “all-in” on this summer, and committed to bringing the franchise back to where it belongs. There are traditional ways to do that but there are also outside the box ways of doing that. We’ll look at five potential angles the Mavs could work that would be considered outside the box.

Times are tough for many teams around the league in a new CBA world. There are two teams in the Eastern Conference who find themselves in a bit of a bind but in two very different ways.

The Boston Celtics are a team with a bloated payroll (giving Jason Terry a three-year, $15.675 million dollar deal is an example of how money can add up in a hurry). They did hit an unfortunate break in terms of an injury during the month of January as it was announced the Rajon Rondo suffered an ACL injury and would be out of action for the duration of the season. Boston is getting older and teams around them are getting better.

The Toronto Raptors are also a team with a bloated payroll. To make their situation worse than Boston’s, they flat out stink. The Raptors tied for the worst record in the Atlantic Division. They have just over $27 million committed between Rudy Gay and DeMar Derozan. They also still have someone impersonating a basketball player in Andrea Bargnani as he is collecting a salary of $10.7 million this coming season. The only thing worse than being in a cap bind: being in a cap bind and being terrible.

Both of these teams have a way of reducing their cap number but it would require swallowing a big pill. Non-guaranteed salary is most often used on players either at the beginning or end of their careers or for the later years of long-term contracts. There is a specific deadline set within the contract for when the salary becomes fully guaranteed. Any non-guaranteed salary comes off the team salary when the waived player clears waivers.

For Toronto, they have Kyle Lowry, who had a four-year, $23.46 million offer sheet presented to him as a restricted free agent back in 2010. He will be entering his final season of his deal, at $6,210,000, but the Raptors could ultimately decide to let him go because only $1 million of that is guaranteed, as long as he is waived on or before July 15th.

While Lowry isn’t a premier point guard, he is a very capable one. He averaged 10.7 points and 6.4 assists for the Raptors this past season. He’s not your typical “drive the bus” kind of point guard, but he can be a tough defender. His 1.4 steals/game average ranked him 26th amongst all guards last season.

Boston has Paul Pierce in the final year of his deal at $15,333,334. For this season coming up, the final year of his deal, only $5 million is guaranteed, as long as he is waived on or below June 30th. Pierce was almost a Maverick as he was to be part of the three-team blockbuster deal at this season’s trade deadline. The deal also had Josh Smith going to the Celtics. It’s always possible the Mavs, Hawks and Celtics could look to find a way to reignite the deal, or the Celtics might look to totally hit the reset button on their franchise, keeping Rondo as the new focal point. That would also require them to ship Kevin Garnett elsewhere or hope that he retires.

Pierce doesn’t have very much tread left on his tires, but he would provide the Mavs with another veteran scorer who could potentially play off of Dirk Nowitzki.

Those are the two “sexiest” names in terms of players who could be let go under this wrinkle in terms of contracts. Once they clear waivers, the Mavs, as well as anyone else, could sign them to whatever deal that fits within their cap number. Both of them provide an area of need for the Mavs. They’re certainly names worth keeping an eye on.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He also attended Ball So Hard University, studying ideologies of Clark Kent. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.

  • Matt

    The part on Lowry is incorrect. Toronto traded their 2013 draft pick 1-3 and 15-30 protected to Houston last summer. Houston matched the offer made by Cleveland for Lowry.

    Also there is no way Toronto does not pick up the option on Lowry.