Mavs Mailbag: What If Dallas Can't Get Deron

D-Lord's Mavs Mailbag: What if they don't get Deron? How can Odom's contract be best used? Is Jet really done in Dallas? What are the latest amnesty thoughts? Oh, and what are the odds Delonte hangs around? The best Mavs front-office information in the business is right here ... well worth your FREE 7-day tryout and a must-read for serious Mavs fans!



KK in Kalifornia writes:

Dear Insider: What's going to happen with Lamar Odom? The Mavs still own his rights through June 2013. What will they do with him?


Dear KK: One thing is certain - Odom won't be back in a Dallas Mavericks uniform. As far as the Mavs are concerned, they've had enough - the crazies in California can have him. If they find no better choice, they will exercise their contractual right to simply waive him before June 29 and pay him $2.4M as a buyout fee rather than the $8.2M on the contract.
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However, that creates a problem for Lamar Odom if he wants to play with the Lakers next season. If the Mavs waive him, he won't be eligible to sign with them until late December (at the earliest), which means he would miss training camp and about 1/3 of the season. Don't forget that he's never played for Mike Brown before, so he has much to learn. In that scenario, they may not be interested.

In addition, LA's cap situation mandates they would be unable to pay him more than the taxpayer's $3M MLE, and if they spent that elsewhere in the summer, he'd have to play for the minimum if he wanted to return to the Lakers.

Rather than waiting for the Mavs to waive him, our suggestion is that Lamar might want to take a step or two to help things along. His signing restriction with LA gets removed if some team besides Dallas is the one that waives him. So Lamar can make a trade easier, if he agrees to reduce or eliminate that buyout cost conditional to being traded.

In addition, he can make it even better for himself by opening the door for Dallas to trade him directly to LA, with his contract and Bird rights intact. While that's the logical scenario, right now it's not possible. The rules prevent the Mavs from swapping him back to LA until July, but their deadline to bail out of his contract next year for the reduced amount of $2.4M is at the end of June. Unless something changes, a Dallas-LA trade isn't happening.

But it can become possible. To do so, Lamar would agree to change the "buyout deadline" to mid-July. Under that scenario the Mavs could keep him long enough to make that trade (which the Lakers could do by sending back the pick and using the Trade Exception they acquired when they traded him to Dallas), he ends up in LA making $8.2M rather than the minimum, plays the full season, and everyone is happy.

Even if the Lakers don't want him, extending the deadline to July might make it much easier for the Mavs to find a taker in trade that wants to keep him. Keeping that contract intact, and the Bird rights in place, would be a huge plus for him.

And while Lamar is busy making TV shows and whiling away his time elsewhere during the playoffs, we suggest the Mavs put a little bug in his agent's ear on the above. Help us help you.

If none of those contractual alterations occur, we expect the Mavs will be able to trade Odom in June rather than waive him. Our guess is that shortly after the draft, they will package Odom and $2.4M cash (to pay his buyout), plus something extra (another $0.5M? a pick?) to a team far enough under the 2011 cap to take his contract without sending any salary back, such as Toronto or Sacramento.

Quan in DeSoto writes:

Dear Insider: With the Mavs being under the cap this summer, who do you think they might get from someone else's amnesty move? Isn't that one way they can put a better team around Dirk and D-Will?

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Dear Q: I don't think so. There's a huge obstacle for the Mavs, and it's one that may block their participation entirely: the requirement to have cap space to make an amnesty bid.

While we've heard many times that the Mavs will be under the cap this summer, that won't necessarily be the case. It's not because they couldn't do so to the extent they want, but rather because they may not wish to do so.

Surprised?

In general, two broad possibilities are in play for the Mavs this summer. Either they persuade Deron Williams to sign with them, or they don't. Here's what they would have to do in order to make an amnesty bid under each of those two scenarios ...and why they are likely to go in a different direction either way.

If D-Will wants to be a Mav - We'll assume D-Will's agreement with Dallas will be for the max salary of $17.18M, that the Mavs have found a way to get rid of Odom without any ongoing cap cost, and that they can keep or get rid of any salary they wish. At that point, they'll be obligated to Dirk for about $20.9M, D-Will for $17.2M, and if the cap is at the lowest number possible, have right at $20M left over for another 10 players. If the cap is at the highest number we can imagine, there would be about $23M to work with.

Keep in mind that as they open up cap space to sign D-Will, in the process they'll have to renounce all their Trade Exceptions, they won't get a Bi-Annual Exception, and they won't get a full Mid-Level Exception. But he's worth it.

If they got rid of everyone, they'd have 10 empty roster slots that will cost them $0.473M each and $16-19M left over. But then they'd be looking to sign the very type of players they just let go - with some of them already in place at bargain prices, and others who would be difficult-to-impossible to replace in free agency.

If they wanted to keep players already under contract, they can replace an empty roster slot (and its cost) with the following (in round numbers): Marion $8.4M, Haywood $8.3M, Carter $3.1M, Beaubois $2.2M, Dojo $1.3M, Wright $1.0M, Azubuike $1.0M. If they want to retain free agent (Bird-related) rights for others, they set aside: JET $16.7M, Kidd $15.2M, Mahinmi $0.9M. (Retaining rights on West, Yi, and Cardinal won't gain them anything.) Retaining rights to 1st rounder Koponen will cost them $0.9M. If they draft and keep their pick in the 2012 draft, it will cost them $1.2M.

It doesn't take long to discover they'll run out of cap space far sooner than they'll run out of players and rights they'd prefer to keep. So in the "D-Will to Dallas" scenario, it doesn't make sense that they'd be getting rid of players they already like just to make a bid (with no promises) at what might drift through the amnesty auction.

If D-Will signs elsewhere - Even in the event that D-Will signs elsewhere, the odds are still slim that they will participate in the amnesty bidding. In this case, while D-Will's salary wouldn't be in the mix, there would be other cap eaters added to the equation.

Let's start with the same assumption - Odom is gone at no cost.

The easiest place to start is to assume they keep what they have that looks attractive, and spend the leftovers Their roster would be Dirk $20.9M, Marion $8.4M, Haywood $8.3M, Carter $3.1M, Beaubois $2.2M, Dojo $1.3M, Wright $1.0M, Azubuike $1.0M, Mahinmi hold $0.9M, Koponen hold $0.9M, 2012 #1 pick hold $1.2M, 1 empty roster slot $0.473M. The rights on JET and Kidd get renounced. TOTAL - $49.7M ...cap space $8.5M-11.5M.

But while that's a lot of cap space available on paper, and while they could squeeze out a bit more by getting rid of this player or that, the issue becomes: what can they get for the spending room? The problem in 2012 free agency is that the talent is sparse after D-Will. Would Garnett leave Boston, or Nash leave Phoenix? Probably not. And what sort of player is likely to be put into the amnesty auction? Leftovers and spares?

As a result, the best remaining players available - and ones who already know the system - might be JET and Kidd.

That creates an interesting paradox. If the Mavs don't renounce their rights on JET and Kidd, they gain all the freedom they want to sign them for another season. But in addition, they don't slide under the cap, which means they get a full MLE of $5M to sign outside players, a BAE, and they keep all their existing Trade Exceptions.

So the choice is - (a) Keep JET's rights, Kidd's rights, get an MLE, get a BAE, and keep your Trade exceptions, or (b) Renounce all those rights to get under the cap, and get a chance to bid (with no guarantee of success) on amnesty players.

Getting under the cap, and giving up all of that, is worth it for the D-Will's of the world. But for potential amnesty spares like Mike Miller and Charlie Villanueva? No way Jose.

Our guess is that the Mavs will choose "a."

Lou in Grapevine writes:
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Dear Insider: What is the Mavs' plan in the event that upgrades like DWill and/or Howard or the like fall through? In that case, would the Mavs make a rebuild trade to get Dirk to another contender team in his last years as a player?

Dear Lou: While in theory anything is possible, the Mavs have given no indication that Dirk could ever end up in another uniform. Their planning revolves around Dirk Nowitzki, he has a no-trade clause in his contract, and both sides are committed to more titles for Dallas. I don't think that equation will change in the foreseeable future - if ever.

In the short term, if they don't land a star this summer (D-Will, it would appear, is the target for 2012), our expectation is that they will go forward using the available assets to create the best team possible for a year at a time, with the goal of landing that player in 2013. Or 2014. or 2015.

That doesn't mean the roster changes completely each summer. But look for players to be added and retained on short flexible contracts that will expire or can be moved easily if that star becomes available and cap room is needed.

For what it's worth, here's the latest from D-Will himself, talking over the weekend about the end of this awful season in New Jersey:

*On the thought he's putting into being a free agent July 1:

"It's a big decision," Williams said. "So I want to put as much time and thought into it as I can. I'll probably get with my agent (Jeff Schwartz) and see what he thinks. He's been through this process a thousand times with a thousand guys, so I'm going to rely on him."

*On why he's going to spend spring in East Rutherford when the season ends this week. For the love of the Nets?

"It's definitely convenience," Williams said. "My kids are still in school until the end of June, so I'm going to be around here until I leave for the Olympics."

On the importance of family (and ultimately, where he wants to raise his four children and live permanently):

"You can be as mad as you want (at a losing season)," Williams said, "but when I come home and I've got my kids around, it changes my mood instantly. But it has been tough."

Bret in Mansfield writes:
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Dear Insider: Do you think Delonte is back next year? I hope so.


Dear Mangini: I'd give it a 50-50 chance.

Both sides give every indication that the situation has worked for them, but West may get bigger offers from other teams. The Mavs only have non-Bird veteran rights on him, which means they'll have to use cap space or exception money to sign him. The likelihood is that they'll offer him a one-year deal at the minimum, which is the same type of deal he got this season, and would create some league subsidy on his salary as well as retain cap flexibility for this summer and next in chasing a star.


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