Exclusive: Mavs 3D Blueprint Cheat Sheet

‘The 3D Blueprint' has entered the NBA lexicon. Now there's new info to dissect. We've acquired have exact salary numbers for the Mavs, a copy of the new CBA, and other details that allow us to refine the bottom line and analyze the variables. If you're a Mavs geek in terms of numbers, roster and future, you need this Mavs 3D Blueprint Cheat Sheet. Take our 7-Day Free Trial and come inside!

The 3D Blueprint is one of many 2012-13 options for the Dallas Mavericks, but it's a most exciting possibility. Two months ago we unveiled the general concept at a time when some Mavs contracts were brand new and when some details were hard to obtain, and there was also a brand new CBA. The ink was barely dry and the rules were still under wraps from those outside the league.

Since then, we've gained access to both the exact salary numbers on those new contracts as well as the completed CBA. Articles are everywhere trumpeting the possibilities. … and in some cases misunderstanding and misinterpreting those. So here's an update, DallasBasketball.com-style, to offer both the precise numbers as well as a look at the variables that can come into play before, during, and after we get to free agency and a chance for 3D in Dallas.


ITEM: The basic blueprint is about fitting Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams and Dwight Howard into the Mavs' available cap space. In that general scenario, Dirk is the only player retained, and the Mavs offer to split all available cap space between the other two players.
ITEM: Dirk will get $20,907,128. That number is fixed.

ITEM: With 3D (Dirk, Dwight and Deron) and no one else, you would have nine empty roster slots with a cap hold of $473,604 each. The total cap hit would be $4,262,436. That number is also fixed.

ITEM: Deron will probably be limited by a max of $17,177,795, which is 105% of his prior salary. But that limit would be increased to "30% of the cap" (it's not really 30%, it's actually only 28.256592%) if the NBA's 2012-13 salary cap is higher than $60,792,168. Possible.

ITEM: Dwight will almost certainly be limited to a max of $18.996 million (105% of his last year's salary). For "30%" to exceed that amount, the cap would have to exceed $67M. Very unlikely.

ITEM: The cap can be no lower than $58.044M. It can go as high as revenues take it. With the cap at the minimum of $58.044M, you would be able to give Deron and Dwight about $16.44M each.

With the cap at $60.792 million, you could give both Deron and Dwight equal salaries up to the limit on Deron's salary of $17,177,795 each, and there would be $1,267,014 left over to keep other players. Or Deron could get his full max of $17,177,795 and there would be about $18.46M left for Dwight, which is within $536,000 of his full max. Obviously there could be other ways to split it as well.

If the cap is $61,560,948 or higher, you could give both Deron and Dwight a full max salary. With a cap above that $61.561M number, there is spending room left over even if you pay both at their full max.

While we all have assumed the Mavs can simply wipe their cap clean apart from Dirk's salary, a few items are still up in the air in order for that to happen. And by the time all is said and done, they will have some choices to make.

ITEM: The big contracts that are currently on the cap for 2012-13 beyond Dirk's are those of Haywood and Marion. At some point those would have to be traded with no 2012-13 salary coming back to Dallas, perhaps in a transaction similar to the one that brought Odom to the Mavs from LA. If needed, the salary of one could be removed via the amnesty process

ITEM: Odom is also on the 2012-13 cap for $8.2M, but he can be waived by June 29 and would receive $2.4M for next season. That $2.4M would be charged to the cap. If the Mavs wanted to avoid the $2.4M cap hit, they could trade Odom to another team along with more than $2.4M, and let that team be the one that waives him while pocketing a profit in cash or other benefit.

In recent days there has been talk of Odom wanting to be bought out by the Mavs. While both sides have denied any interest in said buyout, we'll note that if it were to happen, any amount Odom might receive would be prorated over this and next season. Therefore unless the buyout was for zero dollars, some of it would reduce the Mavs' ability to spend in the summer.

ITEM: Carter is on the 2012-13 books for $3.09M and can be kept for that amount. Or he could be traded in a giveaway, or for cash or a draft pick, and cost the Mavs' cap $0. Or he could be waived by June 30 and cost them exactly $800,000 on next year's cap.

ITEM: The deadlines for making waiver decisions on Odom and Carter are currently near the end of June, but such deadlines are always open to being negotiated to a later date if both player and team feel they have reason to do so.

ITEM: There is also the question of whether the Mavs might want to keep the "rights" to some of their players who are set to become free agents. When a player is your free agent, a team can sometimes sign them to a bigger contract than otherwise possible if they have rights to that player, most often described as Bird rights. In our basic 3D calculations, we used the premise that there were nine empty roster slots, and no rights retained.

But the difference between the cost for an empty roster slot and filling one of those empty roster slots with a player's rights is, in some cases, very small. The cost for Kidd and Jet would be substantial, and for West they would gain nothing in the amount they could pay by retaining his rights. But they might want to keep rights on Mahinmi - which in his case would allow them to pay him up to the MLE after signing 3D - with a cap hold of only $854,389 until he was signed (not that much above the empty roster slot hold of $473,604). They would have similar options of "just a tiny bit more" on Brandan Wright ($992,680) and Sean Williams ($915,852), both of whom can be kept for a year at those numbers if the Mavs wished.

With Mahinmi, there would be no deadline - they could keep his rights until they actually obtain the commitments from 3D and need the space, or until they sign him.

For Wright the deadline for a decision would be June 30, and for Williams it would be August 8. Barring a mutually agreed extension, the Mavs would be committed – with contracts fully guaranteed for another year - if they are not waived by those dates.

ITEM: Roddy B can be kept with a cap hit of $2,227,333, or can be sent away in a trade and the resulting empty roster slot would cost $473,604.

ITEM: The choice on DoJo is $1,276,560 vs $473,604.

ITEM: The Mavs may also have a 2012 draft pick to pay for. Contrary to what was reported at the time, the Mavs will have no choice as to whether it will be their pick or LA's. If it's a pick from 1 to 20, it will belong to the Mavs. If it's from 21 to 30, it goes to LA.

Keeping the pick would bring a cap charge in 2012-13 for the salary scale for that pick. The closer to the top of the draft, the more it would cost their cap, with pick 20 costing $1.13M, and 15 costing $1.44M. If the Mavs had the pick but wanted to avoid the cap hit, they could opt to trade the pick before the draft, or send away the picked player in a trade.


The simple answer is, "Nobody knows."
The lazy assumption is that it will simply stay the same. The new CBA's system has a cap that is calculated at 44.74% of BRI (total league revenues) rather than the 51% under the 2005 CBA, which means it's only at 87.7% of what it was previously. And the current cap of $58.044M is a negotiated number that would actually be somewhat lower if using the formula.

ITEM: The 2012-13 cap itself can be higher. Obviously that would affect the amount of spending room the Mavs might have. The lowest it can possibly be is the same $58.044M as in 2012-13.

ITEM: The CBA uses "max salary" minimum figures that have a 5.7%-ish raise built in from 2011-12 to 2012-13. The max salary is based on the cap, and a 5.7% raise would give a cap of $61.3M.

That doesn't mean the cap will necessarily go up to that amount. But when "experts'' try to calculate Dallas' future flexibility using the lowest number of $58.004M … well, that's not necessarily so, either.

ITEM: While the 2011-12 cap was the same as the 2010-11 one, the revenues on which those caps were based actually jumped considerably from one season to the next. But the change in calculation masked the leap in revenues.

ITEM: The cap in 2012-13 will use revenues for 2011-12 as the basis, but they will not be diminished by the shortened season. In fact, they may be increased – and exaggerated?

To reflect the shortened schedule, the league will do their cap calculation for 2012-13 using 82/66 of the actual revenues. But the NBA was able to retain all of its major revenue producers in its shortened season – the Christmas TV schedule (and an enhanced one), the All-Star Game, and the playoffs, and by the time it's all over, they are likely to take in far more than 66/82 of a normal season's revenue. If so, next season's cap will be over-adjusted and will shoot up.

ITEM: Both the sizable New York market and the massive international market in China have been energized by Linsanity …and 82/66 of that resulting revenue gain for the NBA is going to impact next season's cap. (I'll have more info coming on this theme.)

ITEM: Many in the media are simply going with $58.044M as the expected cap for 2012-13 and they may be right.

ITEM: Most teams do their own guesstimates on future cap levels, but for competitive reasons they keep those numbers close to the vest.

ITEM: Using the most reliable source I've found over the last few years in predicting the cap, it is currently projected to be $61.078M for 2012-13.

ITEM: The actual cap for 2012-13 will not be known until the league resumes for business after the 2012 moratorium, which will be no sooner than July 11.

THE BOTTOM LINE It's easy to get caught up in whether the numbers are "big enough" or not, and as long as the option remains open for Howard and Williams to land in Dallas, we'll continue to see article after article from the NBA Mediaverse explaining their interpretations of the Mavs cap options as we head towards July.

Yet we still think we had the most important item right on the mark when we first wrote about 3D, and it's one that goes overlooked by most.

As we see it, whether Deron and Dwight land in Dallas or not won't really be about the exact numbers. Instead, it will be like we saw with LeBron, Bosh, and Wade all landing in Miami – they will go where they want to go, with a significant part of that as choices being made to win. At the end of the day, just like in Miami, they may forego some possible dollars in favor of creating a team where feel they can win, and keep on winning, through the balance of their career. With Dirk in Dallas, and the Mavs culture of winning, the Mavs might have a large advantage that will trump all the numbers.

But for the Mavs, it all goes beyond Deron and Dwight. The 3D Blueprint is rooted in "flexibility" rather than commitment to a lottery ticket. Maybe at the end of the day they add two stars … maybe they add one …or maybe they keep the core of the team intact and add talent another way. Nothing is set in stone, and anything can happen – and who knows, with the trade deadline looming, the our immediate focus includes seeing of the next time "anything may happen" may be right around the corner rather than in July.


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