The Butterfly Effects, Pt. II: Remaining Chains

Posted by Rob Mahoney on November 29, 2011 under Commentary | Read the First Comment

With the unofficial, metaphorical ink on the tentative CBA structure beginning to dry, we’ll take to look at how the new agreement impacts the Dallas Mavericks teams of today and tomorrow.

The NBA’s owners entered collective bargaining with several specific goals in mind. Among them: to limit the flexibility of taxpaying teams as much as possible, creating a systemic conflict between high payrolls and roster freedom. As a part of that objective, the new agreement includes a completely remodeled set of salary cap exceptions that reward teams for staying under the tax line, and restrict the free agent involvement of spend-happy clubs like the Mavericks. Dallas will likely be a luxury taxpayer again next season; so the franchise has been for the last six-plus years, and so they may be for the next several. Such is the price of keeping this particular contending core in place. Mark Cuban will be mindful of the wrath of the repeater tax, but that likely won’t stop him from keeping his team in tax territory for the first two seasons of the new collective bargaining agreement, during which he’ll only face a $1-for-$1 luxury tax penalty akin to that of the previous CBA. Cuban has shown a willingness to foot the bill on that tax, but would be understandably reluctant to pay according to the exorbitant demands of the more demanding luxury tax rules that will become active for the 2013-2014 season. But the Mavs’ taxpaying status will still affect their offseason plans on a more immediate timeline. According to a memo detailing the tentative agreement between the players and owners (via SI.com), taxpaying teams will no longer have access to the league’s mid-level exception (a salary cap exception used to sign free agents for up to around $5 million per season); instead, they’ll be forced to make do with the “taxpayer mid-level exception,” a provision that allows for the signing of a free agent to a deal up to three years in length (rather than four) starting at a mere $3 million. Read more of this article »

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 9, 2009 under xOther | 4 Comments to Read

EDIT: Some additions:

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel (via TQC): “While watching summer-league action at RDV Sportsplex, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard yelled at Marcin Gortat, joking, ‘Hey, get out of here. You don’t want to play for the Magic anymore.’ Gortat had just returned from a meeting with Magic General Manager Otis Smith and Gortat’s agent, Guy Zucker, to discuss the offer sheet he signed with the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, the first day that NBA free agents can officially sign contracts with their new teams. ‘Five years, $34 million,’ Gortat said, so happy with the Mavs’ offer that he broke an unwritten rule among players who never divulge the count and the amount…The Magic could match and trade Gortat to receive compensation this season. They would have to wait 90 days from the start of the season to deal him — hoping that he stays healthy until December — but that doesn’t appear to be on Smith’s agenda. ‘It’s doable,” Smith said. “But right now I’m still thinking the other way [not to match].’”
  • Jason Kidd may have been closer to New York than we thought (transcribed by Tas Melas of Sports Radio Interviews): [Host, Dan Patrick:] Was anyone else interested in you other than Dallas and New York? [Kidd:] ‘Those were the two teams – to have the opportunity to play in New York, in the sense of the Garden.  (Host: How close were you to going to New York?)  I was very close, New York did everything right in the sense of the three-year contract, but Cuban and the Mavs stepped up, and I think we’re pretty close to competing with the Lakers, and the elite teams, Denver, in the western conference.  So, I thought it was best for me to stay.’”
  • An excellent break-down of the Mavs’ summer league team (via Ridiculous Upside).
  • If you think the Mavs are paying too much for Marcin Gortat or Shawn Marion, you clearly haven’t seen the contract the Cleveland Cavaliers just gave to Anderson Varejao.
  • This is a damn travesty.

Original links:

  • Don’t forget about Quinton Ross, who should slide into Antoine Wright’s shoes.
  • Brendan K. O’Grady, author of 2nd Round Reach, crosses paths with Dirk in his very interesting analysis of Pau Gasol’s role in the league as a “Euro” in a guest post at FreeDarko: “As the best player of the 2006-2007 season, Dirk Nowitzki was poised to become the greatest Euro in history. His Mavericks were a confluence of players with complimentary and very American styles (as presented by Stackhouse, Jason Terry, and especially Josh Howard) yet all were molded around Dirk’s singular, distinctly foreign presence. He brought an alien skill set, and altered the course of the NBA’s season with the effect that only a 7-foot white shooting guard masquerading as a power forward could have on the game…And for prolonged stretches in that year, Dirk’s Euroness was synonymous with the strength of granite mountains, and no longer spoken of with the superficial novelty that once would have come in the same breath as the words “Nikoloz Tskitishvili.” After the first such sustained period of brilliance from the caste’s greatest hero, no more demoralizing a moment could have existed for the Euro than when a shattered Dirk, all sunken-eyes and vacant smile, shook hands and posed with Stern as he accepted his MVP trophy, just a week after being eliminated from contention during the anarchic Warriors’ impossible paroxysm against reality.”
  • Anthony Parker appears Cleveland-bound, so cross him off your biannual exception wish lists.  Should be good times for the Cavs.
  • Interestingly enough, the Shawn Marion trade has temporarily stalled the Zach Randolph-to-Memphis deal.  It shouldn’t be anything more than a hiccup, but Clippernation is still holding its collective breath.  (via Clips Nation)
  • Bethlehem Shoals of The Baseline: “It’s worth noting that, before [Steve] Nash, [Shawn] Marion put up nearly identical stats with [Stephon] Marbury as the Suns point guard, which means The Matrix is either more independent than we thought or Marbury deserves a little credit for something. He’s also 31, which matters more for him than Dirk since his game is premised on athleticism. But it’s not like the Mavs have an option other than to load up now, try the best they can to win a championship in Dirk’s later years, and then start over. While Marion’s far from ideal, with a more up-tempo offense he might get some of his groove back, and it doesn’t hurt that he once played with Kidd (and Kidd’s good at making life easy for his kind of player).”
  • Marcin Gortat, on advice he’s received regarding his first big contract (via Eddy Rivera of Third Quarter Collapse): “Yeah, I’ve had a chance to talk to a couple of guys. They all told me that I have to stay humble and just don’t forget about the stuff that I was doing the last two years. I’m talking about being the first in the gym, working on my game, improving every part of m y game so like I said, it’s going to be a huge opportunity for me. I believe I’m going to get more playing time and my role might be bigger next year so I’m just going to try to show that I’m a better basketball player.”  More with Gortat here.

Clearing the Red Tape

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 8, 2009 under Commentary, Roster Moves, Rumors | Read the First Comment

The Marion-to-the-Mavs rumors clearly aren’t ready to die, but there are some considerable snags.  Before the Mavs find success at the negotiating table or on the court, there are going to have to be some changes in approach.

As you, oh intelligent reader, probably already know, the Raptors are not able to sign Hedo Turkoglu until they renounce the free agent rights of Shawn Marion. The proposed deals coming from our end are centered around Jerry Stackhouse’s unguaranteed contract, but even his deal comes with a $2 million cap hold and an equal monetary commitment.  It’s not much in NBA terms, but it would be enough to step on Toronto’s toes; The extra $2 million would inch the Raptors closer to the salary cap and prevent them from signing Hedo to his proposed contract.

So essentially, the Mavs have two options, which could conceivably be used in conjunction with one another:

  1. The Mavs and the Raps re-work the deal to include another Toronto player, and said player would need to make at least $2 million in the 2009-2010 season.
  2. The Mavs and the Raps need to get a third team in on the trade, optimally with a trade exception or cap room.

It seems like a short list, but those two factors could very well kill any dreams of Marion in Maverick blue.

First, let’s look at the players on the Raps that could reasonably be included as throw-ins in the deal, as well as their salary obligations:

  • Forward Kris Humphries, $6.4 million over two years (player option for the second year)
  • Point guard Marcus Banks, $9.4 million over two years
  • Shooting guard Anthony Parker, unrestricted free agent who could be signed-and-traded
  • Forward Joey Graham, unrestricted free agent who could be signed-and-traded (Graham would be a base year compensation player and would need to be included with another player)

Not a long list, and not a particularly appetizing one.  The Raptors apparently want to get out from under the considerable weight that is Marcus Banks’ contract, but that’s a bit of an unnecessary strain on a team that looks to have pretty good cap flexibility from here on out.  It’s also a bit more damaging to a team over the luxury tax, which the Mavs are likely to be.  Still, it’s worth noting that if the Mavs’ are willing to take on Marion’s new contract, they’re likely ditching their plans to be actors in 2010 via straight up cap space.  Any plans on the big free agent market would come through Erick Dampier’s incentive-based contract, a latent prize that David Lord broke down earlier this week.  That means that taking on Banks’ deal would really only hurt the Mavs in the wallet.

Taking back Kris Humphries wouldn’t be ideal, but it’s a lighter blow to Cuban than Marcus Banks would be.  Then again, all of these proposed deals floating around are laced with a few assumptions: For one, that Marion would be willing to accept an offer substantially less than the one Toronto gave him (maybe starting at $6.5 mil).  Also, the Mavs would almost be required to include another player to make the numbers work, and Shawne Williams seems to be the only truly expendable candidate.  That first assumption in particular could be a giant leap of faith, given Marion’s deep-seeded desire to get those dolla dolla bills, and his storied insecurities as a player.  Those insecurities can be quelled with an over-sized check, a photo-op, and some back rubbing, but it’s in the Mavs’ best interest for the long-term to commit as little as possible to an aging Marion.  Bargains are the name of the game, and inking Shawn Marion to a deal starting around the $8 million/year mark the Raps offered would be a mistake.

Joey Graham is pretty much a non-option due to base year compensation rules (even if the Raps give him a deal to balance the $2 mil for Stack’s cap hold, he’d only be valued at his former contract’s price tag for trade purposes…making a trade with him much more difficult than it has to be.), but Anthony Parker is an intriguing option.  The Raptors (and likely Colangelo, in particular) are looking to do right by Marion and his agent, Dan Fegan.  It’d also be nice to shed some of the salary guaranteed to either Banks or Humphries.  But if the Raptors are truly interested in maintaining their business relationships with important agents, they might consider doing the same for Henry Thomas.  Thomas happens to be the agent for Anthony Parker and one Chris Bosh, with whom the Raptors are hoping to nurture a long-standing relationship into an even longer-standing contract next summer.  If we’re all trying to play nice here, the Raptors could conceivably include Parker in some kind of modified deal.  It makes the numbers a bit more complicated, but the returns from the Mavs’ perspective are even more valuable.

Naturally, that assumes that Parker actually wants to come to Dallas, which hasn’t even been rumored.  It also assumes that Parker would not be able to get a chunk of someone’s midlevel exception, a fact which we won’t know and can’t know until late in the summer.  The Raptors clearly need to get this deal done in a jiffy in order to finalize things with Hedo Turkoglu, and waiting for Parker and his Henry Thomas to get a read on the market would not be the way to facilitate that.  So while the incentives may be there for both teams to get Parker involved, it seems like a near impossibility.

If the Mavs and Raptors remain the only teams involved, it’s going to take a concession.  Either Cuban will have to bite the bullet and take Banks’ contract on the books, or the Raptors will need to take a back-seat in trade talks and make the deal for Marion’s sake.  Considering that their only real motivations for getting this deal done (sans shedding Marcus Banks) are professional courtesy, I’m not sure how willing the Raptors will be to play ball.  I guess we’ll find out in the next few days.

But that brings up another point that’s been bugging me: The much touted answer to the stalls in trade talks has been the proposed inclusion of a third team.  The Raptors clearly have some vested interest in getting Marion where he wants to go, but what incentive would a third party have in this equation?  The easiest solution to the numbers game is to get a third team involved, but what reason could the Mavs give them to stay on the phone?

Trade exceptions and cap space are both valuable commodities in the NBA, and it would take quite a few favors for another GM to forfeit that commodity for nothing.  If a third team took on a contract or two in the deal, what would they get in exchange?  Stack’s virtually expiring contract, which is $2 million more than they would have been paying otherwise?  A few second round picks, which could either bite the Mavs in the future or pan out as practically nothing?  The Mavs and Raptors would essentially be asking a third team to take on salary with little or nothing to show for it, while possibly sending something to the Raptors to make it worth their while.  For a GM, that’s somewhere between fiscally irresponsible and just plain dumb.  Just to make matters worse, four of the eight holders of trade exceptions are Western Conference rivals (Houston, L.A., Portland, Denver).  And as for the teams with cap space, I think it’s safe to say that Portland would be out of the equation, both for their vested interest in the Mavs staying right where they are and what could be some bitterness about Turkoglu’s bolt in the night.  Without those teams’ involvement, the potential for finding a third team willing to cooperate declines substantially.  The motivation isn’t there for a third team to get involved, so don’t expect a savior to come rushing in at the 25th hour to fly Marion to Dallas.  The logic just isn’t there without a major restructuring of this deal.

Stay frosty for an analysis of where Marion might fit on this team if he does find a way to Dallas.

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 4, 2009 under Previews | Read the First Comment

  • Happy fourth, everyone.  AMERICA RULZ!
  • This is why we should all wait until pen meets paper before we get too excited about Gortat.
  • Fish brings up a great point in his Mavs-centric breakdown of Turkoglu’s free agent signing: Carlos Delfino and Anthony Parker are not only expendable commodities at this point, but unwanted free agents that could end up in a bargain bin.  Both would look pretty excellent in a Mavs’ uniform right about now, but don’t be surprised if one or both of them end up heading to Europe if they don’t find a contract to their tastes.
  • Look, I love puns, but this has gone too far.
  • The other half of Third Quarter Collapse, Eddy Rivera, analyzes Gortat’s game and season: “There was a lot to like about Gortat this past year. Offensively, his percentages (58.3% true-shooting percentage, 57.5% effective field-goal percentage) and his offensive rating (121) during the regular season were excellent. The latter statistic (t-1st on the Magic) shows that Marcin is a highly-efficient individual on offense. Is Gortat the most polished (get it?) offensive player? No, of course not. Marcin gets his points off of drives to the basket on pick & rolls, post-ups, put-backs, etc. Given his age, Gortat has room for growth but don’t expect an expansive repertoire on offense from the Polish Hammer. Not yet, at least…Marcin Gortat is an excellent role player who is ready to accept more playing time and perhaps a starting role with a new team – the Dallas Mavericks. If you’re a Dallas fan, don’t be alarmed by his plus/minus stats. That’s what happens when an individual is playing behind, arguably, the best center in the league. The statistics become skewed. Given that his block rate and rebounding rate are eerily similar to Dwight, Mark Cuban and the Mavs got themselves excellent value with the Polish Hammer.”
  • A well-done photoshopped picture of what Brandon Bass might look like in an Orlando Magic jersey.  It’ll be tough to see him go, but I doubt there will be any ill wills for a guy just looking to make his name and some money in this league…while ripping down every rim in the process (via TQC).
  • It looks like Avery Johnson is going to face some internal competition for the Pistons’ head coaching job (via Natalie from Need4Sheed).
  • Former Mavs’ draft pick Nick Fazekas isn’t a punchline.
  • Jason Kidd’s decision in free agency could facilitate Steve Nash’s departure from Phoenix.  Maybe the Mavs want to re-sign Kidd just for the revenge factor.