Trade Takes

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on June 20, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

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With the draft one week away, the news and rumors will be flying around at a rapid rate. The first real bit of information in terms of speculation has popped up.

During his weekly chat on Wednesday, ESPN NBA Insider Chad Ford was asked a question by a Mavs fan in Houston (man, that must be tough) in regards to what the Mavs might be thinking.

Jo Jo was the questioner. I wonder if they have a friend named K-Ci.

Anyway, Jo Jo asked: Who’s is in play for the Mavs pick (what are you hearing)? Pistons, Cavs, others? What is it going to cost besides taking on Marion?

Chad Ford replied: I’ve also heard the Knicks, Thunder and Cavs. Cost is either a 2014 first rounder or taking back Marion into room. By the way, some teams think that the Mavs may already have a deal as the trade talk has silenced in Dallas the past few days. The Mavs can’t officially announce anything until after they make their draft selection.

Let’s start breaking that bit of information down like a fraction.

First, the reason the Mavs can’t announce anything until after they make their draft selection is because they still need to draft the rights to someone due to trade restrictions. The reason Marion is involved in the deal is because, outside of Dirk Nowitzki, he has the largest salary remaining on the payroll for next season. Even though it is one year, $9,316,796 is quite a hefty price tag.

Let’s be honest, everyone loves Shawn Marion. His professional nature in being prepared for every game and his fun personality make him a guy that is very likable. Marion’s efforts on both ends of the floor, mainly on the defensive end, during the team’s championship run in 2011 were extremely valuable. Of the guys still actually under contract, Marion and Nowitzki are the only Mavs left from the 2011 championship roster.

That said, in a new CBA world, just over $9 million for Marion is a tough pill to swallow. That’s why we’ve heard, and I’ve suggested, that the Mavs look into having Marion exercise his option to become a free agent and restructure his deal.

There is a clear downside to trying to trade Marion. He’s basketball spackle. Whenever the Mavs have had an issue, Marion has been able to be the filler to help alleviate the issue. It’s more than likely that replacing Marion might be more of an effort than actually biting the bullet and paying him his full salary for the year. It’s hard to imagine that you can replace what he does with the money you’d have to work with by letting him go. With that in mind, there is some logic to consider the idea of dealing him. That money, combined with their current cap space, would really free them up to reload their roster.

Things to note: First, if he is traded before June 30, he still has the option to exercise his early termination option and become a free agent. That could be an out of sorts for him if he’s traded to a situation that he finds less than desirable.

Second, he has a 15 percent trade kicker in his deal. This is essentially a bonus that is paid to the player when he is traded, but only upon his first trade and not upon any subsequent trades after signing his contract. A new wrinkle in the CBA alters how the trade kicker would come into play in terms of who pays for it. For contracts and extensions signed before the current CBA took effect, like Marion’s, the bonus is paid by the team receiving the player. For contracts and extensions signed under the current CBA, the bonus is paid by the team trading away the player. That means whoever is trading for Marion has to keep in mind that salary moves upwards of $10 million.

In regards to the pick, it’s blatantly obvious the Mavs collectively get queasy at the concept of drafting someone at 13. Since it was announced that they’d have the 13th pick at the lottery, you heard immediately that they were interested in trading the pick or drafting someone to have them play overseas as a way of being able to keep that money off their cap number.

Cuban admitted earlier this week on KTCK-AM that there’s trade value in the 13th pick.

“It is the case because the numbers are the numbers. If I’m going to talk about cap and CBA, I can’t BS my way around that. [The cap space for a pick] makes a huge difference on whether or not we have enough room to sign a max-out guy.

“There’s risk involved. If somebody falls that we think is going to be a superstar and nobody else does, we’ll make the pick. I don’t think that’s likely. On the flip side, if you look at those teams that are over the tax threshold, they can’t sign-and-trade for a free agent. They only have the mini-mid level to sign and for the first time this year, they get hit higher with a new tax level. There are a lot of issues involved with those teams.

“As a result, the one way that they can inexpensively add decent players is through the draft. There able to trade future draft picks and or current players to get current draft picks, so the value of 13 is considerable. We’ll look at taking future draft picks. We’ll look at moving down and getting multiple draft picks. We’ll look at trading for players that we think are good. There are a lot of opportunities and options that we have.”

When he said those comments, it made it seem like he was certainly banking on this philosophical idea was going to allow them to get out of the 13th pick, in my opinion. New York is mentioned by Ford and the Knicks are clearly strapped for means to improve their team.

Just looking at trading the pick on its own, the 13th pick has a cap hold of $1,655,300. If the Mavs got rid of the pick for space, they would still have a roster charge of $490,180. Per CBA rules, a roster charge is necessary for not having 12 players on the cap. Subtracting those two numbers, you get a number of $1,165,120. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but if you look at the life of a max-out offer they can make, that can extrapolate to as much as $4,660,480 over the life of a deal. That certainly makes a difference.

Looking at another team in the equation from Ford, Cleveland has the 19th pick. There’s a difference of $432,100 between the 13th and 19th pick. These two teams are very familiar with each other when it comes to the draft as they participated in a deal last year at the draft. The Mavs drafted Tyler Zeller with the 17th pick, and then shortly traded his rights to the Cavs for the 24th, 33rd and 34th picks. Those picks turned out to become Jared Cunningham, Bernard James and Jae Crowder. While the jury is still out on Cunningham, James and Crowder were two guys who found themselves in the rotation at different parts of the season for the Mavs.

The Cavs could theoretically offer the 19th, 31st and 32nd pick or any combination of those picks in exchange for the 13th pick. Immediately those picks in the second round would end up being non-guaranteed deals for the Mavs. If they make the team, they would not have a cap hold on the Mavs future cap number going into 2015 and on.

The Pistons and the Cavs make sense as suitors for Marion as they could use a one-year rental with a versatile forward. It’s probably a tough stretch for the Thunder to want to look at Marion for the same reason they’d be interested in the 13th pick. While it makes sense to take an interest in getting the 13th pick now as it might be the best pick Dallas may have to offer them as Dallas owes them a future first, Oklahoma City has their own salary cap issues to deal with. Being in a smaller market, they have to worry about fielding a team with two max-out players on their roster. It would be a supreme luxury to have Marion on the Thunder. It would likely be a nightmare for Mavs fans.

When looking at probabilities, it almost feels like a certainty that the Mavs will be trading down in the draft. It remains to be seen where their final destination would be if they do trade down.

As for Marion, the fact that he’s the basketball spackle for the Mavs makes it to where I would be relatively shocked if they traded him with No. 13. At this time of the year, it feels like a Marion trade would be a salary dump move and I just don’t see that happening in regards to him. If they were to trade him, it would make sense to use him as an asset in terms of a sign-and-trade with a free agent target. That brings in a player of need and likely keeps a good chunk of their cap space intact.

We’re seven days away from the draft. This rumor is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to the possibilities that could go down for the Mavs. It’s going to be a crazy ride.

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