TRT UPDATE: A Mavs-Cavs Match?

What do ‘Melo and LeBron and tonight's foes the Mavs and the Cavs all have to do with each other? We update our thoughts and offer for your review the detailed breakdowns, smaller realities and likely Dallas trade partners - which involves the Mavs sending somebody to Cleveland.

One problem with trades is finding a fit not only in terms of needs but also in terms of the assets the Dallas Mavericks have to use. The ideal player might seem available, but that "just right" mix that matches both player talent and the right amount of salary in return is not there. In addition, some teams who do have players that fit, might not be interested in trading because they feel they have a chance to have a good season and want to win. That takes even more possibilities out of the mix.

These are some of the complexities involved. Frankly, not all observers are interested in complexities.

They just want to ask the same questions and get the same answers in order to fill headline quotas.

So with the Mavs in New York on Thursday, Mark Cuban was asked about "Rent-a-Melo.''

"Yeah, in a heartbeat,'' Cuban said of his willingness to pursue such a deal. "Because then it's up to me to try to convince them to stay. If anybody wants to give (away) a great player, we're always going to try to be opportunistic. … I can't talk about other teams' players, but I'm always trying to be opportunistic. If someone wanted to offer me a perennial All-Star for a second-round pick, I'm going to say ‘yes.'''

Opportunistic. And simplistic. We've known for months about Dallas' willingness to Rent-a-Melo, and if you are a Mavs Premium Member, you are clearly smart enough to realize that this has nothing to do with "being offered a perennial All-Star for a second-round pick.''

But the headline quota is filled.

Now can we get to some more subtle and intricate thoughts?

First, an updated thought on the new view from Denver that maybe the Nuggets should continue to play hardball, even if that means ending up not trading 'Melo before the Feb. 24 deadline and then losing him for next to nothing this summer:

That sort of sparkling hardball thinking has been done before. With LeBron James. In Cleveland. And what it earned the Cavs is an embarrassing record number of consecutive losses, 24 straight coming into tonight's game at Dallas.

There remains a very big deal for the Nuggets to be made. Denver's youthful management team simply needs the chest hair to make it ... or be prepared to deal with a post-'Melo Nuggets franchise that has a chance in ensuing seasons to look a bit like Cleveland looks now.

Chris Broussard reports that there is another deal to be made, with the Knicks, Anthony's preferred destination. In the rumored deal, the Knicks would send Wilson Chandler to Denver as well as Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry to Minnesota. The Wolves would send Corey Brewer and a first-round pick to Denver.

This isn't close to what Denver has been asking for, obviously. It's a little cap space an an attractive lottery pick.

The Mavs, of course, are prepared to offer much, much more (even if to just rent Anthony for the spring before he goes free) ... which leaves us back where we started in August when DB.com first wrote about Dallas-Denver talks.

Denver is reluctant to deal within the conference.

So let's re-examine the smaller deal ... There's one team that seems to have a lot of the right players that fit the Mavs' assets. The right salary amounts. Possible talent fits at the right positions. And it's all on a team that's in the basement and presumably ready for a fire sale.

Cleveland.

We're hearing no whispers that point in this direction, so nothing may come of it. But the match is just right, the players are just right, and it's all too neat to ignore.

With their existing trade exceptions, the Mavs could take back players for up to $4.4M and $3.1M for nothing more than a pick or cash. With Butler's expiring, they could take back a player or players whose contracts total up to $13.3M. Lay those trade chips next to the veterans on the Cavs roster that might enhance this Mavs team, and it gets intriguing.

And don't forget that Cleveland has that huge $14M+ trade exception, which could work wonders in a Dallas deal with Denver for Melo or Nene (we can think big, but with real details!) or in another big-money deal for the Mavs.

Spit-balling ideas, there are a ton here that are intriguing in various ways, and if you like playing with possibilities, the "seems very possible" ideas spiral everywhere. The ones that look the most promising to us include:

  • Butler's expiring would be enough to match scoring forward Antawn Jamison. Not sure I'd want him, but he plays a position of need for Dallas, he can score, and since he has a bloated contract, the Mavs might be able to get Cleveland to offer something strong in addition, in order to move him off their payroll
  • PG Ramon Sessions ($4M) fits in the Mavs bigger TE and fits an area of need already noted. Either SF Jamario Moon or SG Anthony Parker would fit in the Mavs $3M TE, as would center Ryan Hollins, an ex-Mav.
  • Since Cleveland has no center to speak of on their roster, would both teams have an interest in Haywood going to the Cavs?
  • The idea of the Mavs pursuing the energy of Anderson Varejao was quite appealing earlier in the season, but his season-ending injury has taken him completely off our wish list. This is a win-now trade time. … But that leaves plenty that remain on the list.

Now, if numbers and trade angles give you a headache, read no further. And let's admit up front that what follows violates some of our own core axioms of trade possibilities, including 1) the more teams involved, the less likely the deal, and 2) the more complicated, the less likely the deal. So typically we try to keep ideas like these out of print.

This time is an exception, because we have a point to make.

If the Mavs and Cleveland want to make trade waves, their asset fit could lead to some very interesting shopping possibilities.

It would start with Haywood being swapped for Sessions and Parker, as a straight 2-for-1. (It could be Hollins or Moon rather than Parker, if desired.) On paper, it looks like a simple salary match, with Haywood's $6.9M almost exactly the same as the Sessions-Parker total of $6.82M. But this trade would merely be agreed to by Dallas and the Cavs, not done as a stand-alone deal.

Then we'd roll it into and make it a part of another trade, because we can use a similar concept as explained below in the Butler-to-Sacramento idea earlier. In this one, in the dealings with the Cavs, the Mavs would be taking Sessions salary using one TE and Parker's using another, with the salary being sent away in Haywood's contract left unneeded and unused to take any players from Cleveland.

But that unused salary wouldn't go to waste. It could then be used to take back up to $8.72M in salary somewhere else in the same deal (even if the player comes from a different team). So the Mavs could try to find Sammy Shooter or Freddy Forward that another team wants to let go of, and if his salary was $8.72M or less and the other team wanted some salary reduction, he could be shipped to Dallas for nothing more than a pick, for example.

Taking it one step further, you could even piggyback this onto the Butler-to-Sacramento idea involving Denver. If the Mavs sent Butler-Jones to Sacramento, Beaubois-Mahinmi to Denver, and added Haywood to Cleveland as we've outlined, they'd have room to take back almost $26M from the Nuggets, which could include Melo, Harrington, and Balkman while reducing the Nuggets' cap and tax by almost $24M. Add in Stevenson to go to Denver, and then there's room to take Melo, Nene, and Balkman.

Of course Denver wouldn't be the only place such a deal could be targeted. However, the payroll hit to the Mavs would be sizable in both the short and long run, so it's unlikely Cuban would foot such a bill without incredibly attractive trade targets like Melo and Nene coming in return. But could such availability unlock unexpected possibilities?

Likely? Probably not at all. But that's a road map to a huge deal idea featuring big money swings – all available in a climate where teams might be running from money with a new CBA ahead.

There are extensive possibilities. And while Mark Cuban is holding high-profile press conferences about ‘Melo in New York, there are doors to other entryways, very impactful moves and subtle dealings … that go through places like Cleveland.

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