Mavs Summer Plan Part 2: Scoops & 'What-If's
The Mavs Summer Planner outlined what the Dallas Mavericks will be trying to do this summer. And plans are always perfect and always happen exactly as planned, right?
So as we continue with The Mavs Summer Planner, we now look at it more closely piece-by-piece for flaws, obstacles, and alternatives should something go awry. We'll list each of the Mavs' major steps for the summer in bold, and then put each of those under our microscope in Q&A style. In part 2, we look more closely at things being considered in the final days of June, including the very latest news from our sources.
ON OR BEFORE JUNE 29, THE MAVS AND LAMAR ODOM CHANGE HIS WAIVE-AT-A-DISCOUNT DEADLINE TO MID-JULY, PERHAPS TO SEND HIM TO THE LAKERS
ITEM 1 – Why would Dallas want to help Odom, LA, or both?
This is simply a situation where the Mavs are trying to find the best way to turn a liability into an asset. If in the process it also benefits Lamar Odom and/or his agent, they don't mind …and in fact, it being to their benefit is preferred, since that will make them both more likely to eagerly participate.
Odom having a preference for the Lakers, and the thought that they might want him back, provides a helpful incentive for a deadline change. Without one, the Lakers can't trade for him, and if the Mavs waive him they can't sign him until mid-December. A deadline change opens those doors.
But LA is only one possibility. We know that Dallas' is already working with Odom and his agent – and vice versa - to examine the market for Odom and find solutions that benefit both parties. One team may want him, and another may want his almost-vanishing contract … and trades are easier to find and craft during the player movement in July.
Without a deadline change, the Mavs will rush to get him off their roster by June 29, in some way or another. A trade for a player at that point would almost certainly bring salary that would get in the way of the cap space needed to sign Deron Williams in July, so disposing of him in June would be disadvantageous.
ITEM 2 – Why would Odom be willing to change his deadline – and why not?
Odom and his agent could simply refuse because they don't want to help, or because they want to get a waiver and move on. In fact, as we write we've been told that the Mavs currently regard that as a possibility.
But the Mavs' ongoing relationship with Odom's agent (Jeff Schwartz) is good enough that Schwartz picked the Mavs for his client when he wanted to leave LA. We think that makes it a bit unlikely that the Mavs get a flat no.
In addition, Odom really has next-to-nothing to lose by moving his deadline, as long as the new deadline is early in free agency. If he wants to end up with the Lakers, moving the deadline makes that easier, as noted above, but a July deadline also opens up other teams as possibilities too if he has a different destination that would make sense for everyone.
In fact his agent has already been given permission to explore interest in him (starting with the Clippers, giving him a head start on having a free-agent contract lined up well in advance if he changed his deadline and then was waived in mid-July. That would keep him in the first wave of free agency, exactly the same as if he's waived by his current deadline of June 29.
One issue his agent is also exploring is the potential size of a new deal for Odom, to weigh whether they prefer a trade to a team (perhaps the Lakers) that would want to keep him (where he gets paid the full $8.2M in 2012-13), over being waived (where he gets his $2.4M buyout but then has to settle for what he can get as a free agent). By being traded and kept, it also allows Odom to retain his Bird rights for use in a new deal in the summer of 2013. A trade to a keeper team clearly won't happen unless he moves the deadline and gives the Mavs time and options to find that deal in July's more flexible player-moving environment.
Our guess is that they'll make the change, but only after haggling to create the best new deadline date, one that's early enough to offer Odom a way to hop into early free agency if needed, but that also gives the Mavs time to look for and consummate the best trade for all.
Currently they are discussing a range of new dates from July 11 (opening day of free agency) to July 16 while also taking stock of the marketplace for Odom.
ITEM 3 – Why would LA want Odom back in trade – or would they?
In theory, Odom's value has been diminished greatly by his play this past season, and we've seen the Lakers reducing salary under the new CBA. A trade from Dallas would almost certainly entail the Lakers adding him to their payroll with no salary going back to Dallas, in essence a reversal of the deal that sent him to the Mavs with perhaps a draft pick going to Dallas. Would the Lakers even want to do that? It's a fair question, and one we can't answer with certainty.
But we do have signs that point to them regretting his absence. Kobe has said that he knows how to get the best from LO, and when their season ended LA coach Mike Brown noted that they could certainly use Odom again, who was estranged from the Mavs and clearly going to be available.
In addition, at the very time Schwartz has been shopping the services of Odom, Mitch Kupchak (Laker GM) made the public pronouncement that the Lakers might have a hard time improving their team this summer because of the limits of being far over the tax line, before also noting:
"Wouldn't that be nice if a team gave us a player making $9 million or less [the size of their trade exception] to improve our team? Obviously, the chances of that are not good …However, there are occurrences where teams look to get rid of a player that maybe doesn't fit in or sometimes the trade exception can be used to make a more complicated trade."
The fact that Odom is on an expiring contract would probably make his addition to their payroll much more desirable, and the fact that he would come with Bird rights attached if they get him in trade – making it easy to do a new deal when the current one expires next summer – in a world where they are otherwise disadvantaged in options for player acquisition, could be factors that make him in demand there.
We could argue that when Odom was last with LA, they were being swept by Dallas, and they really wouldn't have any desire for him again. Or the stance could be taken that they would rather reduce payroll than use their trade exception before it expires.
But on the other hand, in LA there's a growing sense of urgency to create one last charge before Kobe's career is gone, and Odom might be the best available talent they can add. They tried to trade him to NO because Chris Paul was the prize, then moved him to Dallas when that failed trade hurt his feelings, but there's no evidence they really wanted to lose his past production.
Would LA trade for him, or would they rather wait until he's waived and then try to sign him for much less? While the latter approach is certainly possible, sitting and waiting also has the potential to shut them out of the Odom market entirely, given the fact that if Dallas waives him they can't sign him until 1/3 of the way through the season. In addition, if he's a free agent, the Lakers would only be able to offer him a reduced MLE of $3M or a minimum salary deal while Schwartz is looking for more for his client. But if they trade for him, they can own him this season and have the inside track for future ones (getting Bird rights as well) – while also keeping their $3M MLE for a different new player.
ITEM 4 – What does Dallas do if Odom won't change his deadline?
In that case, he will be waived on June 29 by Dallas. Or if the Mavs can make it happen in time, he would be traded on June 29 to a team with enough cap room to absorb his contract, along with cash to cover his $2.4M waiver buyout and something extra for the help. But one way or another, he would be waived.
ITEM 5 – What does Dallas do if Odom agrees but the Lakers have no interest in trading for him? If the deadline changes and Deron Williams comes to Dallas in a sign-and-trade, Odom will be used as part of the salary-matching. If there is no SNT, but D-Will comes to Dallas, Odom will be traded to a team that can take him with no salary coming back, to a trading partner probably lined up in late June as a contingency.
LA can be that team – but so can someone else.
And if D-Will doesn't come, Odom's contract will be used as a key part of the Mavs' backup plan, to add a starting-caliber player in the same manner as they added Marion or Chandler in the past.
ON OR BEFORE JUNE 30, VINCE CARTER CHANGES HIS WAIVE-AT-A-DISCOUNT DEADLINE TO MID-JULY
ITEM 6 –Why would Carter be willing to change his deadline – and why not? Who would want Carter in trade, and why? What does Dallas do if Carter won't change his deadline?
As we were preparing to answer these questions on Carter changing his deadline, DB.com learned from NBA sources that the Mavs are very unlikely to work a deadline change with Carter. With his $3M salary level compared to his production this past season, they've decided they prefer he return ... and/or Vince is declining the invitation to shift his deadline.
And there's another issue in the way. Carter came to the Mavs as a storied veteran looking to be a part of the Mavs family, not to be waived or be trade fodder. The Mavs have deduced that players like that are likely to be the best bargains under the new CBA – and they'd rather not poison that well.
If it became necessary, even without a deadline change he could still be included in a July trade, as part of a sign-and-trade for D-Will, and/or he could be waived with minimal cap after-effect (the 2012-13 cap cost to waive him would be $1.2M in July or after, rather than $0.8M in June).
But as of now, the Mavs are likely to keep him. ... or, at least, to keep his contract as it is.
In part 3, coming very soon, we'll conclude this series by looking more closely at July, including the very latest news from our sources, and we'll answer the following:
A MAVS' SIGN-AND-TRADE FOR DERON WILLIAMS
•Why would the Mavs want to expend assets to get D-Will via sign-and-trade, when they could simply sign him instead?
•Why would the Nets be willing to participate, and what would they get?
•Optimally, what would such a trade look like?
•What alternative ways could such a trade be fashioned, and how could such a trade be expanded? If so, how?
•What would Dallas do if the Nets said no?
•Back to the D-Will decision, what if he says no to signing with Dallas?
WHAT ELSE NEEDS TO BE KNOWN ABOUT THE MAVS' SUMMER
•What hidden-yet-crucial factor might work to ensure all the key pieces happen in the Mavs' entire plan, from Odom changing his deadline, to D-Will coming to Dallas, to Brooklyn and LA both joining in a sign-and-trade, and perhaps even more?
•What other factor could go very very right for the Mavs, that could make things even easier than they are currently contemplating, and might change things significantly in the middle of the whole process?
•If all goes according to plan and D-Will ends up in Dallas via the sign-and-trade process, what other actions might the Mavs consider this summer? Or would they stop there?
DallasBasketball.com has specific answers to the above questions, but as we move to Part 3, we update you briefly here in two areas:
One, sources tell us that the Mavs intend to have "troops on the ground'' in free agency and that not only will Deron be targeted, but Brandon Roy and others will be courted as well.
And two, people close to the Deron situation tell us they are convinced the Nets "won't be in the mood'' to sign-and-trade Deron to the Mavs. We're just well-prepared on the subject enough to believe those people, the Nets, and any Mavs people who work under that same assumption are wrong.
In Part 3 of "The Mavs Summer Planner,'' we'll show you why.
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