Let's start with one brutal truth about Al Harrington – getting Harrington now would not be the same Al Harrington idea the Mavs explored in the summer.
That investment would have only cost the Mavs 2 or 3 years of MLE money. This one would be for a full 5 years of MLE money plus raises, which means they would be committing $15-20M more for the same player. In addition, we have to recognize this Harrington has played like warmed over dog poop in Denver despite his hefty price tag. For the Mavs, this is flushing a bunch of money down the drain.
On the other hand, Harrington's bloated contract and mediocre play presents a window of opportunity.
Being one to "take Harrington and that nasty contract off our hands" is now clearly a prized asset to Denver in heading toward their future goals - and potentially one that would be highly advantageous in getting something good from Denver from the Melo-to-NJ deal.
Look at it like this: If the Mavs want Harris as he goes to Denver (the foundation of the idea as we explain here), he almost certainly will be available to someone. As we outlined previously, the Nuggets see Ty Lawson as their PG of the future, and are not only willing but eager to find a taker for Harris and his sizable contract. But as they do so, they will also want some added asset beyond a team simply taking him off their hands. Maybe someone will offer an expiring contract, plus a #1 pick (and the Mavs can offer a pair of them). Maybe someone else will offer an expiring contract plus a young player with potential (and the Mavs can offer Roddy B, DoJo, Ian Mahinmi, or Ajinca). And who knows, maybe they can even get someone else to offer two promising kids, or two picks, or one of each, to come with their expiring contract.
However, "I'll take Harrington off your hands" might be the sort of "asset" that would make all the others pale in comparison.
For example, the Mavs could package Butler (expiring), Jose Juan Barea (usable backup PG on an expiring contract), and Alexis Ajinca (kid with talent on an expiring contract) for Harris (3 yrs $27M) and Harrington (5 yrs $33M).
After this season, the Nuggets payroll would be reduced by $45.5M with that deal. For a rebuilding team, that's a gigantic benefit.
In fact, it's so much value, that it bears asking … would it be too rich for the Mavs' blood?
For Dallas, Harris/Harrington would address two areas of need at once. Harris would be a better backup point guard who can allow Kidd to get rest, and who can also be used as a scoring guard alongside Kidd, while Harrington would bring help at forward, where the Mavs are badly needing better backup talent with the loss of Caron Butler. In addition, it would allow the team to retain Rodrigue Beaubois, Dominique Jones, and all their future picks.
But this isn't a no-brainer by any means. Looming is a new CBA whose payroll rules may be nastier. Too much future salary commitment might backfire badly later. With the future rules all still to be determined, there's no way to know what the ramifications are.
DallasBasketball.com does know this: We've been told that owner Mark Cuban is as willing as ever to take on hefty contracts if the player is a difference-maker, or at least one of value to a title contender.
Harris obviously qualifies. Harrington, less so.
Note that getting Al Harrington would render moot our idea of offering Detroit a deal to take Petro off their hands, alongside a swap of Tayshaun Prince to Dallas. Prince is in the last year of his deal, he is thought to have run his course in Detroit, and he's much more desirable than Harrington as a solution at forward. In fact, Prince would be a rather ideal replacement for Butler if the Mavs don't miraculously land Carmelo Anthony somehow..
A combined Denver-Detroit deal with the Mavs, netting Harris and Prince, would increase Mavs' future payroll by about $25M and aid the other teams greatly in getting where they want to go, but it would also be a huge talent upgrade for the Mavs.
There are also lesser "take some salary off your future payroll" ideas the Mavs could explore with Denver in a Harris deal, that might still work but wouldn't be as daunting as taking Harrington's big contract with that of Harris. We'd prefer taking Morrow (3 yr $12M) alongside Harris, which would still remove almost $26M from the Nuggets future payroll, or Chris "Birdman'' Andersen (4 yr $20M) who alongside Harris would remove $33.5M from Nuggets payroll.
However, if the Mavs want Harris, and Prince or a more fiscally prudent deal with Denver isn't available, taking Harrington's bloated deal as the price of doing business is a deal I'd favor, because it addresses all the Mavs' big needs in one deal, and it's a home run for the Nuggets as well. Count me in. Will Denver and the Mavs see it the same way? And if so, how soon? There is the ammunition and the reasoning for Dallas to be the fourth team in this deal. We'll continue to explore. …