Understanding The Mavs, Bynum And The Stretch

Mavs sources tell DB.com that Mark Cuban's thoughts on the use of the ‘stretch provision' are not intended for application to the signing of a big-money/big-risk player like Andrew Bynum, but rather on the O.J. Mayo-level player whose contract can be minimized if a Summer-of-2014 ‘Big Fish' (or two) is on the hook. Why not Bynum? The explanation from Mavs HQ you can only get in Mavs Premium:

"We can go out there and get guys that are really good players that want to come here whose agents have suggested that they'd really love to come to Dallas,'' Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says. "We can go put together a good team (for 2013) and see what we've got. If it doesn't work, with Dirk and Marion coming off the books, with the stretch provision and contracts, we still have the opportunity to go after two max free agents (in the Summer of 2014) if we're willing to take the hit on the stretch. I'm willing to do that."

Then Cuban goes on to explain how the NBA's new "stretch provision'' works: A team can waive a player and spread out the cap ramifications of that dead salary over double the remaining years plus one.

Which means, Cuban is willing to do what, exactly?

Here's an example: Dallas wishes to re-sign O.J. Mayo. Last year, he inked a one-year deal with the Mavs, and as Cuban now notes, "We won't sign anybody to a one-year deal. They'll all be four-year deals because that gives you the most flexibility if you stretch them.''

Now, let's slow down. Trust me, the Mavs are not now automatically never going to sign a one-year contract. Cuban is just creating examples again.

Back to Mayo: Dallas gives him a four-year contract worth a total of $16 million. The Mavs do so knowing that Mayo's contract is now going to eat into future cap room for years to come.

He doesn't object because he still gets the entirety of the contract AND gets to earn supplementary money with his next team.

Then the Summer of 2014 comes along. LeBron James (or whatever "Big Fish,'' or even two fishes) wants to come to Dallas. The Mavs, needing cap room to make it happen, flex their "stretch'' muscle by waiving Mayo. The remainder of his contract (three years) is "stretched'' by the "times two, plus one'' formula.

So if Mayo has $12 million and three years left on his deal, Dallas' cap impact is spread over seven years.

Annual impact? Just $1.714 million.

Does this possibility deter O.J. Mayo or other free agents from inking with Dallas? Not at all. In fact, knowing the possibility that they could get waived in a year and end up being paid for four years while only having played one, would offer the potential of a huge financial windfall. Nothing undesirable there at all, for either the player or for the agent who's advising him.

So why doesn't THIS work with Andrew Bynum?

Forget the knee problems and the want-to questions and whether you like Andrew Bynum the player. (Fact is, if and when he's healthy, he's a 7-0, 285-pound All-Star force of nature. But those knees are big "if's.'') Understand that he's not going to leave Philly and hit the market this summer settling for the same four-year, $16-million number we used for our Mayo example.

In fact, he's eligible for a deal starting at over $17.73 million a year.

Teams' offers to Bynum can include non-guaranteed dollars and "make-good'' concepts and the rest. And maybe he will settle for those. But he will be seeking a four-year, $75.7-million deal. Let's use those numbers in "stretch'' application:

Bynum signs this summer and plays one season in Dallas. But things go sour and another "Big Fish'' wants in. So, just waive/stretch Bynum, right?

Wrong. There would be almost $58 million remaining on Bynum's deal. The remainder of his contract (three years) is "stretched'' by that "times two, plus one'' formula. Dallas would remain on the hook for almost $8.3 million a year for the next seven seasons.

The Mavs view that as anything but an "escape.'' An annual $8.3 million penalty for the mistake of signing Bynum is prohibitive.

Now, this doesn't definitively mean Dallas isn't in the market for Bynum. If he's deemed healthy -- something we're very skeptical of -- he's a viable target. What it means is that signing and then "stretching'' max-money stars is NOT one of Cuban's intended building blocks.

If the Mavs sign Andrew Bynum this summer, they won't sign him with the intention of waiving him 12 months later. In fact, they won't sign anyone with the intention of waiving them later!

If the Mavs don't sign Paul or Dwight this summer, and move to the Plan B of signing a four-year contract with a second-tier standout, it will be with the idea of knowing they can eventually regain cap room with the "stretch provision'' – and even then, it only applies if a "Big Fish'' is on the Summer-of-2014 hook.

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