Mavs Deals Q&A: Deron & 'The Meeting'

Are the Mavs looking at trading Marion, Haywood or Jet in exchange for nothing? Why did they have to pull the trigger on the dumping of the Odom carcass? Can Dragicevic play? What's the latest on a Deron transaction? All good questions, and yes ... from inside the CBA and inside Mavs HQ, has the answers ... including our views on the scheduled Monday meeting between Deron and his suitors:

On Friday, the Dallas Mavericks traded away Lamar Odom and the draft rights to Shan Foster (the 51st overall pick in 2008). In return they received (1) the draft rights to forward Tadija Dragicevic, (6-9, 246) a Serbian native who was the 53rd overall pick in 2008 by Utah, and who averaged 10.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game for Angelico Biella in Italy, (2) $300,000 cash, and (3) an $8.9 million trade exception.

What does this do for the Mavs? Here are some of the ramifications, Q&A style.

The Mavs basically got nothing. Why would they agree to such a lopsided trade?

The Mavs had hoped to persuade Odom to move his waive-at-a-discount deadline to July, where it could be used as an almost-vanishing trade chip.

However, when asked, Odom's agent did his due diligence for his client, and found a trade that would enable Odom to play in LA while also retaining his $8.2M salary next year, and in which the Mavs wouldn't have to take back any salary (a necessity given their desire to have cap space for Deron Williams). A deal to keep his contract, rather than being waived, was highly preferential to Odom, because it gave him a chance to restore his value over the next year while getting paid $8.2M, and then be a free agent in 2013. A new deal in the wake of his abominable 2011-12 season would have been lousy for him.

With that opportunity available to Odom if traded now, he refused a change in the deadline, fearing that if the deal was delayed, someone might back out, leaving him in a trade-and-waive that would make him a free agent this summer.

That left the Mavs to choose between: (1) trade him in this deal, and get nothing back, (2) trade him in another deal for nothing coming back, to a team that would waive him, along with money for the waiver and something extra, (3) waive him now for $2.4M, and have that amount charged to their 2012-13 cap, or (4) keep him and guarantee his contract for another year at $8.9M, with the hope that they could do the same trade or a similar one in July, with no almost-vanishing contract to protect the downside for them.

The Mavs didn't want to take that "delay the trade" risk with a downside of having Odom at $8.9M for 2012-13 and no takers. Not only would the worst case scenario leave them saddled with Odom, but it also would have imperiled their ability to have cap room to sign D-Will. So they took the sure thing, getting rid of the liability at no cost, with the trade taking him off their cap entirely.

With this Odom trade now done, the idea of delaying it until mid-July and using it as part of the trade matching in a sign-and-trade for D-Will is dead. Was it really so crucial to get it done now - why couldn't everyone just agree to it now and then consummate the exact same deal in July, allowing it to be rolled into a D-Will sign-and-trade if possible?

Inserting time into the middle of a deal can allow it to unravel. There were many moving parts in this Odom deal - players, agents, teams - and one or more wanted to get it done while it was certain. So they did.

While we hoped to see the deadline changed, the idea that time can sidetrack deals is not just theory. In the interim teams sometimes see a choice they like better, and wander away. Here's one example of what can go wrong when you wait.

How much NBA potential does Dragicevic have?

He's been in Europe for 4 years after being drafted, with no move to the NBA. His stats are promising, but they don't tell us whether he has the athleticism for the NBA game, and the unfortunate reality is that European Basketball stats rarely give us much indication of NBA potential (either way).

We're grown-ups here, so if you want my estimation, here's my rain-on-the-parade guess: I'm assuming he was nothing more than a no-value satisfaction of the requirement for Utah to have something outgoing in the deal to make it a "trade" for them.

I hope I'm wrong.

Since this trade removed Odom and his $8.9M salary (already paid) from the Mavs' 2011-12 roster and current cap, will they now be tax-free this season?

No. Teams pay tax on the roster they have starting the last game of their regular season. Odom would have had to be traded by the trade deadline in April in order to remove him from their taxable payroll, but at that time the Mavs rolled the dice and chose to keep him.

With Odom's salary now cleared, and with the draft-day trade clearing out a few more dollars in cap space, all that remains for the Mavs to have cap space for D-Will is for them to amnesty Haywood or Marion, and renounce exceptions and cap holds. Should we expect an announcement any day now?

No. And you may never see any of those happen.

Until they actually need the cap space (at the point of signing a contract and submitting it to the league office), the Mavs can keep all their assets intact. If they don't need the cap space for one reason or another, then they won't do any of it.

The Mavs received an $8.9M trade exception from this transaction. How will that help them?

(Yes, it's an $8.9M TE, not $8.2M as has been widely reported.)

A trade exception gives a team an "amount plus $100,000" ability to take back a player in a later trade, without sending matching salary the other way. It expires in a year if not already used. Part of it can be used, with the remainder still available, until it's either all used up or the year is over. It can never be used in combination with anything to take back a salary bigger than the "trade exception plus $100,000" amount, so the limit of this one would be a player with a salary of $9M or less.

Will the Mavs be able to use it for their benefit? Maybe not. It could not be used as part of the trade-matching for a sign-and-trade acquisition of Deron Williams (whose starting salary should be around $17.2M). If the Mavs sign D-Will outright, it would get thrown in the trash to help clear the needed cap space, because a trade exception eats up cap space (in this case, $8.9M of it). The same would occur if the Mavs missed out on D-Will but decided to sign a different over-the-MLE free agent - it would get trashed.

There are some scenarios under which the TE could help. If the Mavs were able to acquire D-Will and work a sign-and-trade to do so, this TE could be retained since cap space wouldn't have to be cleared. Or if the Mavs are unable to land D-Will or another over-the-MLE free agent, the TE would remain available for use by the Mavs.

The vast majority of TEs ultimately go unused.

With Odom now out of the mix as a salary-matching tool for a D-Will sign-and-trade, has a SNT for D-Will been made impossible, or is there another possibility?

While using Odom as a sizable salary-matching piece for D-Will in a sign-and-trade is now off the table, the Mavs could still create a similar one in July with different assets, at least in theory.

*The pieces of an Odom-D-Will sign-and-trade might have looked like this:

*Odom to LAC (with Mo Williams to Utah)

*Carter to Charlotte (or to some team who wants him and has cap room or a trade exception to absorb his salary)

*Dojo and a pick to Brooklyn

*D-Will to Dallas

While there are ways to adjust the values going to each team with added assets, picks, etc, that illustration is an example of what it would take to meet the salary-matching rules in the CBA. And the key is that Brooklyn would only get assets they would want, with the bulk of the matching salary going elsewhere.

Without Odom, that same sort of trade could still be constructed - maybe - by simply substituting Haywood, Marion, or JET (in an outbound over-MLE sign-and-trade) as a replacement for Odom. The key would be finding a team that could and would take one of those three without sending any salary back.

Is that even possible? Perhaps.

We do know this: It's been reported that other GMs have said a Marion-for-no-salary is available if the Mavs wanted to move him. Presumably JET would be possible too, if we can presume that someone will be poised to offer him over-MLE free agent money. Haywood is a center, which are typically in demand and high-priced, priced at about the proper level, so in theory he'd be tradable that way as well.

My guess is that the Mavs' preferences would be (1) JET, with him probably leaving anyhow and probably going to a team with cap space, (2) Haywood, as the most likely amnesty candidate, and therefore gone anyhow if they simply sign D-Will, and (3) Marion, least likely based on his performance the last two seasons.

If it happens, here's one way it might look:

*JET to Team X (sign-and-trade with a starting salary of 7,811,235 or more)

*Carter to Charlotte (or to some team who wants him and has cap room or a trade exception to absorb his salary)

*Dojo and a pick to Brooklyn

*D-Will to Dallas

In that scenario, the Mavs would be able to keep all existing assets except the ones in the trade. That's a better result than a simple signing of D-Will. In the above example, you'd still have both Haywood (the Mavs' best center), Marion (the Mavs' best defender), a full complement of annual exceptions ($5M MLE, and BLE), and trade exceptions, to use to further benefit the team. Most of that would have to be trashed with a signing of D-Will or another over-MLE free agent.
Obviously while a SNT can still happen, (1) it would now strip more assets than with Odom and (2) it was seemingly mostly done, with only a delay to July 11 left to do on that part of a D-Will SNT. Odom was a window of opportunity that was wasted - or that didn't quite open at the right moment. But if D-Will comes to Dallas, there are still SNT possibilities, at least on paper.

Keep in mind that we're simply dealing with possibilities here, under the rules. Whether the Mavs would try to go that direction, and whether they could find the deal, is a separate issue for another day.

What do you make of the ESPN report that Deron is meeting with the Mavs and Nets on Monday?

Some of the news in that report is fresh. The Monday meeting as opposed to a midnight call is fresh. The part about Kidd owning a home in The Hamptons? We wrote that on Dec. 8. Deron and Kidd as a package deal? Every reporter in Dallas wrote that on Exit Meeting Day. The assumptions that the deal is done?

Wouldn't make much sense for Deron to bother meeting with a Mavs traveling party if he's already decided not to listen to them, would it?

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