Are Mavs Still On Iguodala Bandwagon?

Scola's off to Phoenix. There are more 'small' Mavs transactions to come. Somewhere in the mix, Andre Iguodala's presence on this team's wishlists merits re-examination. It's easy to sit on the 'Get Iggy' bandwagon. But how does that stance hold up when keeping the Mavs' ultimate plan - 'Plan Powder' - in mind?

From the silence came the announcement of Chris Kaman coming to the Dallas Mavericks, followed closely by a sign-and-trade deal that sent Ian Mahinmi to the Indiana Pacers for Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones. Then comes the winning of Brand, the not-enough bid on Phoenix-bound Scola, and the Jet sign-and-trade idea which as of Sunday afternoon remained stuck in neutral.

These moves represented an immediate upgrade in talent (or in some cases efforts toward that) as bringing in a legitimate starting point guard and center along with a physical defender that will likely make his way into Rick Carlisle's core rotation are all thumbs-ups. They also all arrive on one-year contracts that keep the Mavs hopes of future flexibility alive and well.

They are holding one window open to playoff contention and another for the acquisition of the vaunted "Big Fish." And, it's the unveiling of a plan that seemed to wilt in the aftermath of Deron Williams' decision to stay with the Nets.

Regardless of how it's traced, the Mavs' actions have made clear their intention to do all they can to keep both of these windows open: compete and remain flexible to collect should that supernova roll their way.
Andre Iguodala is a name that has floated among the lists of many people's "Mavs Wish Lists." On the surface, this is a player we'd love to see take the court beside Dirk Nowitkzi. And, we sat to write this firmly planted on the "Get Iggy" bandwagon.

How would that stance hold up … keeping the Mavs clear plan in mind?

Why would Philadelphia consider it: With two years and $30.6 million still owed to him (it's hard to imagine he would invoke his early-termination option before the $15.9 million coming next season), Iguodala is widely considered to be overpaid, earning the money of a team's first option while being unable to live up to being one. Rumors, and that's all they are at this point, have reverberated for years that the 76ers would not be opposed to getting out from under his contract, and he's widely thought to not be a part of Philadelphia's long-term plans.

Iguodala may also be acting as a "progress stopper," limiting the minutes/roles/growth of former second-overall-pick Evan Turner and possibly standing in the way of this year's 15th pick Maurice Harkless.

When the Mavs last entertained thoughts of trading for Iggy, he came tied to Elton Brand's albatross of a deal. With Brand having been waived via the amnesty provision, where he was the subject of Dallas longing, this anchor is no longer present to drown the prospects of any deal.

And finally, there comes the true motivation … and the primary asset the Mavs have at their disposal: savings.

Any deal would likely need to be centered on a package of Shawn Marion, Roddy Beaubois and a small piece, such as Dominique Jones or Brandan Wright. Like Iguodala, Marion has two years left on his deal (both players have early-termination-options on the final year, but would seem unlikely to use them), but for far less money ($17.5 million total)

Depending on the machination of the deal, this could save millions for the 76ers now and more next season when the pieces outside of Marion could be shed for further savings (Roddy and Wright's deals expire and/or Dominique Jones could have his team option declined).

Why would Dallas consider it: Iguodala has proven that he is less than desirable as a team's primary offensive focus, but he wouldn't need to be in Dallas.

Though not someone who excels at creating his own shot consistently, Iguodala offers something the new Mavs roster, perhaps outside of Darren Collison, sorely lacks: ball handling and the ability to create offense for others.

Note that Iguodala averaged 5.5 assists per game last season, a number that would have tied him with Jason Kidd as the Mavs team leader … and he's averaged at least five assists in each of the past four seasons.

Last season, Shawn Marion (the man Iguodala would replace in the starting lineup) was the ball handler in pick-and-roll plays only 4.4 percent of the time (per Synergy Sports), compared to 12.1 for Iguodala. In these situations, Marion scored 0.65 points per possession while the play resulted in a turnover 21.6 percent of the time. Iguodala wasn't stellar by any means, but his 0.72 points per possession and a turnover rate of only 16.9 percent show a marked improvement. By comparison, Collison found himself in this situation (as the pick-and-roll ball handler) on 28.5 percent of his offensive possessions, scored 0.76 points per possession with a turnover rate of 18.5 percent.
For those wondering, Jason Terry averaged 0.84 points per possession as the ball handler in pick-and-roll situations last season, but the ball was turned over with greater frequency than Iguodala or Collison at 19.1 percent.

Most of us don't think of Iguodala as a gifted spot-up shooter and will likely be surprised to learn that he almost directly mirrored Jason Terry in this category a season ago … and did so without a teammate that draws defensive focus to the level of Dirk.

In spot up situations, Iggy scored 1.17 points per possession compared to Terry's 1.18 (ranking 24th and 21st in the league, respectively). Iguodala even hit 42.9 percent of his spot-up 3-point tries, compared to 44.4 for Terry.

Throw in the fact that, at 28, Iguodala is almost six years younger than Marion, has the same length contract, and is one of the few players in the league capable of attempting to rival his defensive impact, and you begin to paint the picture of a player who may have gradually become undervalued due to being forced to perform in a role outside of his ideal circumstances … and bridled with excessive expectations.

With only two years left on his deal, if things don't work out after this season you have a 29-year-old player that would easily be the team's best asset with a $15.9 million expiring deal.

Pull the grander visions of the Dallas front office into focus, those sights set squarely on a superstar, and you find the added benefit of a Team USA member (alongside, at one time or another, many elite players who may someday be the subject of the MBT's longing) in Iguodala, a talent capable of adding to whatever gravity emanates from Dirk, calling the favor of potential future teammates … one that's young enough, skilled enough, to let Sammy Superstar know he won't be alone should injury or age befall the great German.

Why Dallas Quickly Discards the Idea: With only Dirk ($22,721,381), Iguodala ($15,904,750), and Vince Carter ($3,180,000) on the books for 2013-14, the total Mavs salary would be $41,806,131 … a healthy $16,237,869 below this year's cap, a cap number that is projected to rise slightly next season. Should a little more space be needed, the Mavs would still have the option of using the "stretch provision" on Carter's contract, taking his cap hit down to $1,060,000 over three seasons, and upping next summer's cap space to $18,357,869.

However, once you add the necessary cap holds (after renouncing all players outside of Dirk, Iggy ... with Carter's reduced cap hit), that $18,357,869 quickly slips to about $12,965,889 (using the current cap of $58,044,000, which should go up) … with no way to create more space outside of moving either Dirk or Iguodala (even though both would have expiring deals, moving Dirk shouldn't be an option, and moving Iggy seems counterproductive to obtaining him in the first place) or adding minimal space (that $1,060,000 number) by trading Carter for no salary in return rather than waiving and "stretching" him.

In other words, without a strong bump in the league's cap, it leaves you shy of being able to offer a free agent like Chris Paul or Dwight Howard a full max-level deal. That wouldn't completely remove the possibility of courting a star, but leaves the Mavs hopes weakened and reliant upon a sign-and-trade … essentially, requiring a max-level star to convincingly threaten to sign with the Mavs for less than max money (compounded by the fact that they'd already be required to forfeit the final year and $20-plus million their old team could offer, such as Deron Williams would have had to do) and hoping his old team will go along.
Since Dallas would also not be able to fit an incoming max player into their cap space, this approach would require that they send out appropriately matching salaries … which is virtually impossible once you begin to consider the other ramifications of this (such as said team wanting players like Collison, Kaman, etc … then Collison/Kaman/etc being interested in participating in that sign-and-trade … raising the possible need of a third team … then everything holding together. (For an example of how difficult all these moving parts can be, see Brooklyn and Orlando's shattered deal.)

Considering the intentions they've made clear -- the desire to be willing and capable of absorbing a max deal should the situation arise -- the likelihood of Dallas agreeing to a deal that knowingly puts them in this weakened position is extremely unlikely.

This overall strategy is still very much open for debate as to its validity, and we're not commenting on that here, but we feel we've seen enough in the Mavs' decisions to believe they would not jeopardize their current flexibility without a true max-level player coming in return ... something Andre Iguodala, desirable in so many other ways, is not.

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